DALLAS -- Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks said Wednesday that he's putting together his own group of mainly local investors, including team president Nolan Ryan and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, in an effort to maintain majority ownership in the club.
Hicks expects at least five groups, including his own, to submit proposals by Friday's deadline. At that point, Hicks and his staff will analyze the proposals and decide which one makes the most sense to pay down or eliminate debt accrued by Hicks Sports Group.
Any change of ownership, including Hicks' new group, would have to get the approval of Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the 40 lenders of HSG. The reason the NHL is involved is that HSG owns the Stars and the sale affects HSG's debt.
Hicks said the process of finding a new owner could be completed within the next 45 days.
"I'm exploring my own group and have talked to a group of local investors," Hicks said from his office at the Crescent in Dallas. "Sizeable commitments have been made. This would allow us to have continuity with the plan we started five years ago. We want to build support for the Texas Rangers in our market. To me, local support, sponsorship, and ownership are better for the Rangers."
If Hicks' bid isn't the one that makes the most financial sense for HSG, he said he could be involved as a minority owner in some of the other bids. Hicks said his participation with another group would be contingent on Ryan being involved as well. The current bidders include former sports agent Dennis Gilbert, Houston businessman Jim Crane and Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and another bidder that Hicks declined to name. He did say former president George W. Bush and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are not involved.
Staubach said he's always loved baseball and would like to get involved in ownership. He added that he played outfield at Navy and hit .420 his sophomore season.
"Tom is a friend of mine and putting together a local group, and I am committed to investing in that if things come together," Staubach said. "He still has some things to work through, and there are some good groups that are interested in the team."
Staubach said that owning a piece of the Rangers appeals to him because of his rooting interest in the club and the fact that the team is getting better.
"I think the fan base is expanding and that there's a future there," Staubach said.
Staubach was a "very small" investor in the Rangers as part of a group that included future president George W. Bush. This time, he said he'd have a "decent size" investment. Staubach also owned part of a NASCAR team, Hall of Fame Racing, with former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. Staubach sold his stake in 2007, though he stayed involved with the team until the 2008 season was over.
"I hope this works out for Tom," Staubach said. "We'll just have to see."
Hicks, who said he's worked on the sale of the club and dealing with HSG's debt for a year now, met with Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels on Tuesday to go over offseason plans. He reiterated that the potential sale of the club shouldn't impact the Rangers' plans heading into 2010.
"It's business as usual," Hicks said. "We have our plan. We have to live within our means. We think signing long-term contracts with 30-something pitchers are the riskiest you can make in baseball. We're not going to do it. But we will be opportunistic and see what's out there."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers and Stars for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.