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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 29, 2008 - Frontier League (FL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: The new Avon (OH) franchise is expected to start play in a 5,000-seat ballpark that is supposed to be ready for the 2009 Frontier League season. It has been rumored that the Chillicothe Paints franchise could be moved to Avon, as the Paints announced the team would not return for the 2009 season. A ballpark planned for the league's proposed Oakland County Cruisers franchise in the Detroit area has been delayed, so that franchise will not be able to start play in 2009. The league's 2008 travel team called the Midwest Sliders was supposed to move to Oakland County. The Frontier League is reportedly looking for a temporary home for the Sliders until the Oakland County ballpark is completed.

Canadian-American League: The Can-Am League is expected to approve the transfer of the Nashua Pride to new ownership next week. The franchise is expected to be renamed the American Defenders of New Hampshire with "Nashua" removed from the name for more of a regional image.

Pacific Coast League: The former Tucson Sidewinders of the Triple-A PCL have been renamed the Reno Aces as the franchise relocates to Reno for the 2009 season.

South Atlantic League (SALLY): When the Lake County Captains joined the Low Class-A SALLY in 2003 the team had an agreement that it would eventually move to the Midwest League. Minor League Baseball upheld this agreement until it could find a team to pair with the Captains for the move. At one time, it was rumored that the Lexington (KY) Legends would be switching leagues with the Captains, but now it is the Bowling Green (KY) team, formerly the Columbus (GA) Catfish, that will move in 2010.

California League: The proposed switch of two High Class-A California League teams to the Carolina League was not worked out in time for the 2009 season, but the Cal League's Bakersfield Blaze franchise has announced that the 2009 season will be its last in the city. Major League organizations would rather see more Class-A teams in the East, but not all of the California League owners are supporting a shift of two teams.

BASKETBALL

Continental Basketball Association: The CBA has confirmed it will operate with only five teams in the 2008-09 season-the Albany (NY) Patroons, East Kentucky Miners, Lawton-Fort Sill (OK) Cavalry, Minot (ND) Skyrockets and the Pittsburgh Xplosion. Each team will play a 36-game schedule starting in December 2008.

American Basketball Association: The Montreal Matrix has taken the team nickname used by the original Montreal franchise that started play in the 2005-06 ABA season. That Matrix franchise came under new ownership and was renamed the Montreal Royal in the second half of the 2006-07 season and continued to play under that name through the 2007-08 season. The Matrix will have to compete with the new Montreal Sasquatch franchise that starts play in the 2009 Premier Basketball League. Several teams are no longer listed on the ABA's list of 2008-09 teams-the Boston Blizzard, Detroit Zafir, Fresno Legends, Long Beach Breakers, Philadelphia Sounds and Shreveport-Bossier Stallions.

United Regions Basketball League: The URBL's Universal City (TX) team in the San Antonio area has chosen "Warriors" as its nickname. The URBL has three other teams planned for the San Antonio area-the Bexar County Barons, Converse Flight and San Antonio Soul.

FOOTBALL

Arenafootball2: The ownership group that plans to place the ECHL's Toledo Walleye hockey franchise in a new downtown arena has purchased the rights to an af2 franchise that could start play in 2010. The Austin Wranglers franchise has ceased operations after one season in the league. The Austin Wranglers started play as an Arena Football League franchise in 2004, but dropped down a level to the af2 for the 2008 season and still suffered from declining attendance.

Indoor Football League: The IFL's Katy Ruff Riders franchise is close to announcing a move to Abilene (TX) for the 2009 season. The Ruff Riders started play in the 2007 season of the Intense Football League, which recently merged with United Indoor Football to form the Indoor Football League.

American Indoor Football Association: After its inaugural season in the AIFA, the Augusta (GA) Colts franchise has announced it will sit out the 2009 season, but plans to return in 2010. Prior to the Colts, Augusta had indoor football teams called the Stallions in arenafootball2 (2000-02) and the Spartans in the American Indoor Football League (2006) and World Indoor Football League (2007). Along with a previously announced 2009 team in Harrisburg (PA), the AIFA is still looking at several other possible expansion cities like Lakeland (FL), Washington (DC), Topeka (KS), Las Vegas, Wenatchee (WA) and Orem (UT).

Canadian Football League: The CFL is not pleased with the fact that the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League will be playing a regular-season game in Toronto in December 2008. The CFL plans to strengthen its current franchises and hopes to add a ninth team in Ottawa, most likely not until 2011. The league could eventually add a tenth team, possibly in Quebec City or Moncton (New Brunswick).

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The city of St. John's, Newfoundland, which lost the St. John's Fog Devils of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after the 2007-08 season, is interested in trying to obtain an AHL franchise. The Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League had their AHL affiliate called the St. John's Maple Leafs based in the city through the 2004-05 season. The next season, St. John's obtained a QMJHL franchise, but it could not survive under the terms of its arena lease and moved to Montreal for the 2008-09 season as the Montreal Junior.

All American Hockey Association: The AAHA, a new A-level minor hockey league, has been formed with four charter franchises. The Evansville IceMen join the AAHA from the proposed Midwest Hockey League, while the South Shore Shooters and Battle Creek Revolution have left the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League for the AAHA. The Motor City Gamblers, based in Fraser (MI), were at one time a proposed MWHL franchise. The AAHA also has Thunder Hockey Michigan listed as a 2009-10 expansion team.

SOCCER

United Soccer Leagues (W-League): The USL's W-League has announced the addition of a Quebec area women's team in 2009 to be called the Quebec Arsenal. The W-League previously announced a new Buffalo Flash team would also be added for 2009.

American Indoor Soccer League: The upcoming 2008-09 AISL season is uncertain after the league lost two of its five teams from last season. The Cincinnati Excite decided to sit idle for 2008-09, but most of that team's personnel switched to the 1790 Cincinnati team in the new Professional Arena Soccer League. The Rockford Rampage left the AISL for the new National Indoor Soccer League, but the team reportedly will still operate a Rockford-based development team in the AISL. This leaves the Tulsa Revolution, which was a partial-schedule team in 2007-08, the Waukegan-based Northern Illinois Rebels, and the Massachusetts Twisters team, which was put up for sale in June 2008.

CONCACAF Champions League: The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football has determined its 16 teams for the inaugural Champions League competition that stretches from September 2008 to the finals in late April 2009. The D.C. United and Houston Dynamo from Major League Soccer are representing the United States. The United Soccer Leagues First Division has the Montreal Impact representing Canada and the Puerto Rico Islanders representing Puerto Rico. Mexico has four teams; Honduras and Panama have two teams each; and Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala and El Salvador have one team each.

OTHER

National Lacrosse League: The NLL's New York Titans and Toronto Rock will play their first 2009 regular-season game in the Fort Lauderdale (FL) area. The league views South Florida as a possible location for future expansion. The NLL has mentioned Oklahoma City as a possible addition for 2010 and is also considering Dallas, Houston and Salt Lake City for expansion franchises.

World TeamTennis: The New York Buzz franchise in the WTT will most likely play in Albany (NY) next season. After being based in Schenectady (NY) for 13 seasons, the team switched its home court to Albany for the recently completed 2008 season because it wanted an indoor facility. The franchise joined the league in 1995 as the New York OTBzz, changed to the Schenectady County Electrics in 1999 and became the New York Buzz in 2001.

Dan Krieger is the creator of "Leagues, Teams & Nicknames", which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The latest version can be found at http://www.lulu.com/content/2533047. Dan can be contacted at dankrieger@leaguesteamsnicknames.com.

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.