[Update - Cuban's motion was denied, according to court documents. So, ignore the part about a sale to Cuban being on the fast track.]
Why do we care about Mark Cuban and the Texas Rangers? Because the sale of the Rangers directly affects the sale of the Dallas Stars -- especially if Mark Cuban ends up purchasing the team.
Right now, it's looking like there is a good chance that is what will happen. The consensus, it seems, is that the Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan group (Rangers Baseball Express) will not be able to put together the highest bid at tomorrow's auction. With the Rangers being in bankruptcy, the court has ordered that the sale of the team be opened back up to auction and that the highest bidder has the rights to purchase the team from Hicks Sports Group -- this legally settles issues that the lenders have had with the sale, as their issue is that HSG picked a lower bid in Greenberg/Ryan and they are being stiffed from money they are owed.
The current issue, however, is that up until now MLB has only approved the Greenberg/Ryan group to purchase the franchise. The MLB has long had complete control over who owns one of their franchises, no matter who the highest bidder for a team might be. Since Greenberg/Ryan is the only group currently approved to become new owners yet are not expected to have the highest bid in tomorrow's auction, there is fear that a higher bid would turn into another long and drawn out sales process.
Currently, the reported timetable for the MLB to approve or disapprove a potential new ownership group ranges from six to nine months. Apparently that's how long it would take the owners to get together and vote on a new owner; there's also the threat that Mark Cuban won't even be approved, after being turned down to purchase the Chicago Cubs a few years back.
Mark Cuban is attempting to speed that process up. Yesterday, Cuban filed an emergency motion to the court. From Maury Brown's report:
Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban is pushing MLB to say that if he wins at auction to purchase the Texas Rangers on Weds. he should go up for a vote of approval by MLB’s 30 owners by no later than Aug. 16. Cuban, in court documents filed today through his "Radical Pitch, LLC", said he is seeking an Emergency Motion for Order Directing Major League Baseball and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball to Expedite the Approval Process saying that in discussions with the league on Saturday, "Major League Baseball ("MLB") and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball (the "BOC") informed Radical Pitch that its approval process could take as long as six (6) to nine (9) months."
Basically, Cuban is asking the court to force the league to approve or disapprove his ownership group by August 16 should he win the auction. If the court does grant this motion, and it's still uncertain whether the court even has the ability to force this upon MLB, then this is certainly a best-case scenario for Rangers and Stars fans.
Until now, every fan was almost 100% behind the Greenberg/Ryan group; not just because this group would likely keep Nolan Ryan and also keep the front office intact but that the sale to any other group would just drag this process on even longer. Now, with this emergency motion, it is likely that should Cuban win the auction (which he should) that the process would not take nearly as long as everyone feared and that the sale would be complete within a month. That's incredible news for a team and a fanbase that is terrified of losing all of the momentum built during this 2010 season.
Of course, there's always the chance that the judge dismisses the motion and Cuban wins the auction. There seems to be a thought that if this were to happen, and the MLB does claim that the approval process would take six to nine months, that the judge would then order that the Greenberg/Ryan bid is best for the team and the lenders. Neither side, not even the lenders, wants this process to keep dragging on.
How does this impact the Stars?
If Cuban does end up owning the Texas Rangers, it will be interesting to see how News Corp. reacts in their bid for the Dallas Stars. Mark Cuban owning both the Dallas Mavericks and the Texas Rangers directly affects the Stars, especially when it comes to television contracts. He's stated that if he purchases the Rangers he won't be starting his own sports network in the local area, but there's no telling how this would affect future contracts with FSN.
There's also an interesting clause in the sale of the Rangers that states that the Stars and Rangers are contractually obligated to television rights as a tandem -- how the sale to Cuban and not Greenberg/Ryan affects this is not exactly clear to me. I'm sure someone out there can fill me in on this.
We'll be keeping you updated on these proceedings throughout the week. Feel free to also check out the various threads at LoneStarBall.com, where a number of the readers have great knowledge of the legalities behind these proceedings.