A federal bankruptcy judge granted permission Wednesday for AmeriBid to auction off Lon Morris College properties.
But whether Jacksonville's rodeo grounds will be included in that sale remains a question for another day.
City officials and officials from the Jacksonville Rodeo Association have expressed confidence the rodeo grounds will revert back to Jacksonville and not be included in the proposed cash auction of LMC's assets. The arena and recreational center was formerly a national guard armory.
But aside from a brief mention that the matter remains unresolved, the topic was not addressed Wednesday in court.
"We will decide what to do if and when someone expresses interest in buying the arena," Hugh Ray III, attorney for Lon Morris College, said after the hearing. "There are two options — either we will agree with the city on this or we will not. If we do, it won't be an issue. The gist of it is, the issue is not decided yet."
The auctions will take place between mid-December and mid-January, officials said. Lon Morris declared bankruptcy in July.
Now that the judge has authorized the auction, agents with AmeriBid said their goal is to get the campus ready to be sold. This will include dividing the campus into its "core" and "non-core" assets.
AmeriBid promotes itself in its literature as the “premier global real estate auction leader.” AmeriBid officials are hoping the sale will appeal to potential buyers such as representatives from state institutions, tech schools or even nursing schools.
"We will sell it as an educational facility," said Brent Wellings, AmeriBid agent. "We are confident we can do that."
Numerous lawyers joined the Wednesday morning hearing of United States Bankruptcy Judge Bill Parker of the Eastern District.
There were seven attorneys in the courtroom and five on the phone. Lon Morris College, the U.S. Trustee's office, the city of Jacksonville, and various other financial institutions all were represented in the room.
Hal Morris, assistant attorney general and managing attorney for the Texas AG’s bankruptcy regulatory section, attended the meeting telephonically.
However, Morris was unable to be reached after the hearing Wednesday to comment on the AG's investigation into $1.3 million missing from an endowment that should have reverted to Sam Houston State University after LMC declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In an email sent Wednesday afternoon, Texas Attorney General spokesman Jerry Strickland spokesman said, "because this case is ongoing, we are unable to provide further information or comment at this time."
The Honorable Bill Parker of the United States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Texas gave his stamp of approval Wednesday morning to hire an auctioneer to sell Lon Morris College properties.
The auctions will take place between mid-December and mid-January.