Sports and politics: Rangers go bust, W makes out like a bandit

This past week, Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers filed for bankruptcy, citing debts in the neighborhood of $500 million. The bankruptcy proceedings cap off a tumultuous 12 year reign of ownership under Tom Hicks, a businessman that showed a tremendous lack of sports acumen in running multiple sports franchises, including the Rangers and Liverpool FC of the English Premier (Soccer) League.

Hicks purchased the team in 1998 from a multiple owner group, of which one of the partners was George W. Bush. This is a great article that details how W got into team ownership, and how he made out with a huge return on his investment. For those that don't feel like reading the article, here's a summary:
  • Bush purchased a 1.8% stake in the team for $500,000, all of which was borrowed from a Midland, Texas bank
  • The other owners granted him an additional 10% ownership in the team, mostly due to his 'celebrity status'
  • He and his fellow owners got the taxpayers to finance a new stadium, which they then purchased for themselves at a 70% discount
  • They then purchased land around the stadium well below market value (under threat of seizure by the city of Arlington)
  • When Hicks purchased the team, Bush's take was over 20 times what he put in just ten years earlier
Raise your hands if any of this surprises you.

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