Credit crunch: Texas Rangers, Bush's old team, on the block

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Pieces of the Texas Rangers now can be had for current market value, and stakes in the Dallas Stars also will be available soon.

Tom Hicks confirmed Wednesday that he is seeking investors in his Dallas-Fort Worth sports empire, which he said is good business in a difficult economy.

He will maintain controlling interest in both franchises, and if Hicks has his way, Nolan Ryan will expand his role with the Rangers from team president to minority owner.

"That's part of this process," Hicks said. "I want to find a way to get Nolan more involved. I hope so."

That would be a nice plus, but certainly isn’' guaranteed. Hicks’ first goal is to raise capital to clear debt and diversity for his investments as the nation struggles through a recession.

Hicks is facing a July deadline to refinance or repay $368.2 million he borrowed to buy Liverpool FC of the English Premier League. The repayment date has already been extended and a second extension from Royal Bank of Scotland, with its own financial problems, is thought to be unlikely.

Hicks said he owns 95 percent of both teams. He is willing to let up to 49 percent of each club be owned by limited partners, allowing him to keep majority ownership. He anticipates owning 51 to 60 percent when the process ends.

Hicks said he will limit investors to one franchise or the other.

"I’m looking quietly, and have been for the last four or five months, for minority investors to come back into to the Rangers at the new value of the club as a way to be prudent about the economy," said Hicks, who also owns 50 percent of Liverpool FC of the English Premier League.

"It doesn’t really change anything. If you look at all sports teams today, because some of them have gotten so large, most of them are owned by partnerships."

Hicks does not expect former President George W. Bush to become an investor in the Rangers. Bush was part of the ownership group that sold the club to Hicks for $250 million in 1998. Forbes magazine listed the Rangers’ value at $412 million last year.

Ryan, though, could be an investor. It was widely speculated when he was hired as team president in February 2008 that he eventually would own part of the club.

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