Ex-Texas Rangers Owner Settles Skimming Claims

     DALLAS (CN) – The former owner of the Texas Rangers has settled claims that he used club money to buy parking lots around the ballpark and Cowboys Stadium.
     Mediation that Dallas County Court Judge Tonya Parker ordered for Nov. 12 was successful, according to a joint motion for continuance filed Monday.
     “In the days following the mediation, the parties continued their settlement discussions, and have now reached an agreement in principle to settle all causes of action in this case subject to definitive documentation,” the four-page motion states.
     Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The parties are now asking Parker to extend deadlines in her scheduling order and continue the December trial date 30 days so they can fully document the settlement and avoid additional costs preparing for trial and responding to pending motions.
     The Texas Rangers Baseball Partners (TRBP) and court-appointed post-bankruptcy administrator Alan Jacobs had sued former owner Tom Hicks and Hicks’ company, Ballpark Real Estate LP, in 2011, alleging that Hicks raided the coffers of the failing club during his time as owner to buy parking lots around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Cowboys Stadium.
     A few months after the TRBP filed for bankruptcy in May 2010, the club sold virtually all of its assets to Rangers Baseball Express (RBE), an investment group led by current team president Nolan Ryan. RBE is not a party to this suit.
     The plaintiffs said Hicks “continually breached his fiduciary duties to the Texas Rangers by using tens of millions of dollars of the Texas Rangers’ money to pay the acquisition costs for land and to build parking lots and roads for the Hicks-owned entity called Ballpark Real Estate LP – an entity that … now generates millions of dollars per year in parking revenue on events at Cowboys Stadium and is worth between $51.5 million and $75 million.”
     First reported earlier this month by Courthouse News, Jacobs and the TRBP had had demanded that Hicks answer interrogatories and produce documents dated between 1998 and 2010 showing the source of funds he allegedly contributed to TRBP.
     “Throughout this litigation, Hicks has contended that any benefit he may have obtained as a result of his transactions with TRBP are more than offset by the amount of voluntary capital contributions he made to TRBP,” that 10-page motion stated.
     “This discovery is plainly relevant to refute Hicks’ defense in this case, and the defendants’ objections to TRBP’s discovery requests should be overruled.”
     Hicks characterized the request for information as “overbroad,” but the club said that the 12-year period covers Hicks’ ownership of the team and is relevant to the allegations of self-dealing and fraudulent transfers.
     The Rangers’ current owners sued BRE in August 2011 in Tarrant County Court, accusing them of demanding outrageous rent for the parking lots, even though a Fort Worth Bankruptcy Court ordered it negotiate an agreement at fair market value.
     “In total indifference to the LUA [land use agreement], BRE and Hicks Holdings have tried to saddle the Rangers with a $3.5 million rental charge for use of the BRE property,” the complaint stated. “This would equate to almost twice the amount the Rangers pay the City of Arlington to lease the entire ballpark.”
     In March, the Rangers settled their claims by entering into a multiyear agreement with the Hicks-controlled entity.

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