A U.S. bankruptcy judge approved a reorganization plan that includes the sale of the Texas Rangers to the group led by Myrtle Beach Pelicans principal owner Chuck Greenberg on Thursday.
The $593 million deal is $130 million more than the May offer that lenders had blocked.
Greenberg, a Pittsburgh sports attorney, and current Rangers President Nolan Ryan landed the team just before 2 a.m. Thursday when a rival group led by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban dropped out of the bidding.
Greenberg said that Major League Baseball's owners could approve his group's purchase next Thursday and that they would be in place the next day.
Cuban and partner Jim Crane, a Houston businessman, dropped out of the bidding after Greenberg's group bid $593 million, which includes $208 million in assumed liabilities. Cuban and Crane's top bid was $581.2 million.
"It's a bit of a relief when you go this far," said Ryan, who was not in court later Thursday. "It's a relief it's over with. You don't know what to expect. ... It was time for someone to say uncle."
Said Greenberg: "We're excited. It's been quite a process ... with a lot of ups and downs." He called it "a moment of truth and we're working toward a great future and making Rangers' fans dreams come true."
Shortly before 3 a.m., Cuban offered his denouement on his Twitter feed: "Congrats, Chuck and Nolan. Go Rangers!"
The two sides spent much of Wednesday tossing about bids of tens of millions of dollars as the auction continued from mid-afternoon through late Wednesday night.
"My client wants to own this ballclub and is willing to put money on the table - not blunder, not bluster, not fluff," said Clifton Jessup, the Dallas attorney for Cuban and Crane, after a lawyer for Ryan's group asked for the auction to be suspended until "unfair" procedures were changed.
The volleys included accusations that Cuban's group only had a 50-50 chance of getting final approval from Major League Baseball. Jessup asked how Greenberg's group knew this and said such a claim could prompt legal action.
Outside the courtroom, Bob DuPuy, president of Major League Baseball, was asked about Greenberg attorney Tom Lauria's claim that Cuban had even chances of gaining the league's approval. "The court has asked us not to comment," he said. "Mr. Lauria made the statement, not me."
When bidding resumed after 9 p.m., the courtroom was packed.
"Our money is worth more than their money because you get it now!" thundered Lauria, in a courtroom confrontation with William K. Snyder, the court-appointed chief restructuring officer. Lauria apparently disagreed with the formula for reducing the value of any Cuban bid because it could take weeks or months longer to conclude the deal. The Greenberg-Ryan group has shown documentation that it can conclude the deal on Aug. 12.