NEW YORK — Sports Authority is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a move that could affect its two stores in Maine.

The retailer said Wednesday that it plans to close or sell about 140 stores and two distribution centers, in Denver and Chicago. The Englewood, Colorado, company has 463 stores in 41 states and Puerto Rico. The store closings are expected to take up to three months.

USA Today reported that a court filing by the company said liquidation sales at up to 140 stores will begin Friday if the company wins approval for its motion from a bankruptcy judge. The Wall Street Journal reported that it has obtained a marketing document listing all of the stores slated for sale, which includes the store at 730 Center St. in Auburn.

A spokeswoman for the company said she could not confirm any store closures. A manager at the Auburn store said she was not authorized to speak to the press and referred a Press Herald inquiry to the corporate spokesperson.

The chain operates one other store in Maine in South Portland at the Maine Mall.

Sports Authority stores that are not targeted for liquidation will remain open and run on normal schedules during the Chapter 11 process. The company’s website will continue to function, and the chain plans to honor warranties on items purchased at its stores or online.

“We are taking this action so that we can continue to adapt our business to meet the changing dynamics in the retail industry,” CEO Michael Foss said in a written statement. The executive said that it needs fewer stores as consumers are increasingly shifting to online shopping.

The retail industry as a whole has struggled with the consumer move to online shopping, trying to find ways to lure customers to brick-and-mortar stores instead. Macy’s Inc. has opened Macy’s Backstage, in order to go head to head with discount retailer T.J. Maxx. And J.C. Penney Co. is using store-label offerings to fight against pricing pressures from online rivals and recently launched a new campaign called “Get Your Penney’s Worth,” which offers certain store-label items for pennies.

In a letter to customers posted on the company’s website, Foss said that Sports Authority’s long-term plan includes upgrading stores and improving its website.

Foss said that The Sports Authority Inc., which is privately held, has received interest from third parties that may want to invest in or buy some or all of the business. The company plans to continue evaluating all of its options, he added.

Sports Authority said that it expects to have sufficient liquidity during the Chapter 11 process when factoring in cash from operations and anticipated access to up to $595 million in debtor-in-possession financing.

Sports Authority made its Chapter 11 filing in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.