Report: Rangers borrow money from MLB

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers borrowed millions of dollars from Major League Baseball within the last week, according to a Yahoo! report.

Rangers spokesman John Blake told the Web site that the club would have no comment, and Rich Levin, a spokesman for the commissioner’s office, said baseball does not comment on team finances.

Baseball will continue to offer financial assistance to owner Tom Hicks until he is able to sell the team, the Web site reported, citing a major league source with direct knowledge of the situation.

“He won’t be running the team much longer,” the person said. “Major League Baseball is helping him through this until someone else can be put in place to run the club.”

Yahoo! reported a major league source told the Web site that the loan to the Hicks Sports Group was not made specifically to help Hicks with payroll obligations and was believed to be for less than $15 million.

That number first surfaced Wednesday, when a caller to an XM radio station said the Rangers had failed to make payroll and had to get $15 million from Major League Baseball. The host, former Rangers manager Kevin Kennedy, said he knew something about the situation and that the team would be owned by someone other than Hicks in the offseason.

The Rangers’ player payroll of nearly $69 million is 22nd out of 30 big league teams.

The reports of the radio broadcast were published by rangerfans.com, a Web site that follows the team.

It’s not unprecedented for teams to borrow from MLB. In 1992, the Detroit Tigers borrowed about $5 million to make payroll one month.

Hicks said in May he would be willing to sell controlling interest in the franchise, in part because of financial problems he is facing. Earlier this year, Hicks Sports Group defaulted on $525 million in loans backed by the Rangers and the NHL’s Dallas Stars, the other U.S. pro sports team Hicks owns.

Hicks bought the Rangers for $250 million in 1998. Last month, Forbes valued the Rangers at $405 million, 15th among the 30 major league teams.

Two years ago, Hicks combined with Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr. to buy the English soccer team Liverpool through an entity separate from the Hicks group facing the loan default. Gillett recently agreed to sell the NHL team.

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