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Greenberg group on verge of deal to buy RangersBy STEPHEN HAWKINSAP Sports WriterFORT WORTH, Texas -- The group that has been in exclusive negotiations to buy the Texas Rangers says it is close to a deal.In a joint statement released at midnight CST Friday, which was when their exclusive negotiating period expired, Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan said "extraordinary progress" had been made over the last couple of weeks."We are on the verge of an agreement that would provide Tom Hicks the value he seeks and the Texas Rangers the resources to become champions," the statement from Greenberg and Ryan said.Hicks on Dec. 15 entered into an exclusive 30-day negotiation window with Greenberg's group that includes Ryan, the Rangers' president the past two years. Ryan would continue in that role under the proposed deal while Greenberg would be the managing general partner and CEO.It was unclear early Saturday if the exclusive negotiating period would be extended, or if Hicks would again consider other bids.Hicks, who has owned the Rangers since 1998, didn't immediately respond to e-mail seeking comment. Hicks had declined comment Friday when asked about the state of negotiations.Greenberg's group includes about a dozen investors, mostly from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Hicks is among them and would be one of the biggest investors, though have only a minority stake in the team."We have made extraordinary progress the last couple of weeks and have come too far to walk away now," Greenberg and Ryan said. "We are fully committed and prepared to work around the clock if that's what it takes to reach a final agreement. We are at a point where deals get done as long as both parties share a desire to cross the finish line together. There just isn't much left to resolve."Hicks Sports Group defaulted early last year on $525 million in loans tied to the Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars, which Hicks has owned since 1996. Hicks has said that was a deliberate move to force lenders to renegotiate terms of the deals.Any deal for the sale of the Rangers will have to be forwarded to the commissioner's office and require approval by at least 75 percent of baseball's owners.The group of 40 lenders holding debt from Hicks Sports Group also will have to approve the sale of the Rangers."With the continued cooperation of Tom Hicks and HSG, we are certain an agreement can be finalized so we can immediately get to work on delivering the success this franchise and its fans deserve," Greenberg and Ryan said.Hicks entered into exclusive negotiations with Greenberg's group last month, choosing that proposal over bids submitted by former agent Dennis Gilbert and Houston businessman Jim Crane. Hicks had even tried to put together a group of mainly local investors in an effort to maintain controlling ownership of the team.Forbes earlier last year valued the Rangers at $405 million, then 15th among the 30 major league teams. Hicks bought the team for $250 million from a group that included former President George W. Bush.The San Diego Padres were sold for just over $500 million last year and the Cubs were bought in October for $845 million in a deal that also included Wrigley Field and 25 percent of Comcast Sportsnet.
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