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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 8, 2009 - International Hockey League 2 (IHL 2)

BASEBALL

Eastern League: Although a previous sale of the Double-A Eastern League's Connecticut Defenders to a group wanting to move the franchise to Richmond (VA) has fallen through, at least two other groups have visited Richmond to consider a possible purchase and relocation of the franchise. The team's current owner is confident an independent baseball franchise could successfully replace the Defenders in Norwich.

Gulf Coast League: When the Florida-based rookie-level GCL starts play this month, it will have two different Major League organizations as part of its 16 teams. The Astros (Kissimmee) and Rays (Port Charlotte) will place teams in the 2009 GCL season, replacing the Dodgers (Vero Beach) and Indians (Winter Haven).

United League Baseball: The Tijuana Potros independent team, which dropped its plans to be part of the 2009 Global Baseball League season due to the H1N1 (swine flu) scare, is reportedly trying to join the ULB for its 2009 season.

BASKETBALL

Global Professional Basketball League: The proposed GPBL has added some new markets to the three previously announced teams for its inaugural season that starts in January 2010. A Pittsburgh-based team and a Louisiana-based team will be part of the GPBL, along with the Barberton (OH) Wizards, based in the city just southwest of Akron. The league plans to add more teams in the next few weeks and will close off expansion for the 2010 season in mid-August.

Premier Basketball League: The Lawton-Fort Sill (OK) Cavalry of the Continental Basketball Association plans to join the PBL for its upcoming season. The Cavalry and the Albany Patroons remained as the only viable franchises at the end of the CBA's shortened 2008-09 season.

America Basketball Association: A group from Elmira (NY) plans to have a team in the 2009-10 ABA season. This team is not related to the Elmira Bulldogs, which started as the Corning Bulldogs in the ABA's 2007-08 season and left early in the season to play as the Elmira Bulldogs in the 2008 National Professional Basketball League and the 2009 Eastern Basketball Alliance. The league's Knoxville Thunderbolts franchise has been renamed the Smoky Mountain Jam and is trying to work out an arrangement to play at Maryville College just south of Knoxville. The ABA plans to add a team in Columbus (GA) for 2009-10 and a team called the San Francisco Rainbows could possibly join the ABA. Some other proposed new teams for the 2009-10 season include the Austin (TX) Capitals, Valdosta (GA) Warriors and Compton (CA) Cobras.

Texas Professional Basketball League: The TPBL has announced it will add a team from central Texas called the Brownwood (TX) Buckshots for the 2010 season. The league also announced that the Cypress Synergy will be based out of the city of Katy, just west of Houston, for the 2010 season.

International Basketball League: The IBL has had to rework its schedule because the China Shanxi Zhongyu team has not been able to travel to the United States to play its 2009 IBL schedule.

FOOTBALL

Arenafootball2: The Florida Firecats franchise, which is based in the Fort Myers/Naples market, reportedly has offers from arenas in major markets to relocate for the 2010 season. Attendance has been down for the 2009 season and there were rumors that the team would not complete the season.

American Indoor Football Association: The league's two Utah-based expansion teams for 2009, the Ogden Knights and the Orem-based Utah Valley Thunder are struggling financially from a lack of sponsorships and attendance. The owner of the Utah Valley Thunder had purchased the Kearns-based Utah Saints franchise, which folded after playing only one AIFA season in 2008.

Lingerie Football League: The LFL, which evolved from the pay-per-view Lingerie Bowl that was first played during halftime of the Super Bowl in 2004, is planning a full 2009-10 season with ten women's teams split into two conferences. The Eastern Conference will feature the Chicago Bliss, Miami Caliente, New York Majesty, Philadelphia Passion and Tampa Breeze, while the Western Conference will include the Dallas Desire, Denver Dream, Los Angeles Temptation, San Diego Seduction and Seattle Mist. A team called the Atlanta Steam could not find a home venue, tried to move to Charlotte, and ended up in Philadelphia. An expansion team called the Charlotte Crush is expected to start play for the 2010-11 season. The LFL is full-contact women's football with seven players aside, playing on a 50-yard field like indoor football. Depending on the home venue, teams will play either outdoors or indoors. Players wear helmets, shoulder pads, bikini tops and shorts. Each team will play two home and two away games in a season that runs from early September to late January.

HOCKEY

International Hockey League: The Kalamazoo Kings franchise announced it is voluntarily withdrawing from the two-year-old IHL and could be considering a move to the ECHL. This leaves the IHL with only five franchises, although it has been working to add expansion franchises in Dayton and possibly the Quad Cities (Moline, IL). The IHL has reportedly received an application for an expansion franchise called the Dayton Gems, which would play at the 5,500-seat Hara Arena in 2009-10.

National Hockey League: In addition to reports on the financial problems of the Phoenix Coyotes, several other current NHL franchises like the Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars are facing their own financial issues during the off-season. It is uncertain as to the seriousness of efforts by a new group in the Toronto area that wants to build a new arena for a proposed NHL expansion franchise to be called the Toronto Legacy. In the unlikely event that the NHL grants this expansion franchise, the proposed arena would not be ready until the 2012-13 season.

American Hockey League: AHL officials and owners reportedly held discussions about the future of the Des Moines-based Iowa Chops franchise, although a final decision or announcement has not yet been made. Last month, the National Hockey League's Anaheim Ducks terminated a two-year agreement with the Chops after one season because the AHL club failed to make payments on its affiliation deal.

North American Hockey League: The new Tier II Junior-A level team in Janesville (WI) will be called the Janesville Jets when the team starts play in the 2009-10 season. The nickname won out over the Jackals, Jaguars, Jayhawks and Juggernauts. The Jets are expected to be part of a five-team North Division, which lost the Mahoning Valley Phantoms and USA National Development Team in a move up to the Tier I United States Hockey League. The NAHL recently had a team called the Fargo-Moorhead Jets for five seasons from 2003 to 2008.

SOCCER

Professional Arena Soccer League: The PASL Pro league recently held an owners' meeting to plan for its second season in 2009-10. The Fort Collins-based Colorado Lightning franchise has resigned from the league. The league confirmed the new San Diego Sockers franchise will start play in 2009-10, along with a new franchise called the Colorado Cavaliers, based in Colorado Springs. Franchise applications from groups in eight additional markets are being considered for admission in either 2009-10 or 2010-11. These groups were given a deadline for meeting certain membership requirements.

OTHER

National Pro Fastpitch: Last month the NPF announced it had reached an agreement with the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) to take over the management of the Washington (DC) Glory franchise, which folded due to financial problems. The new team will be called the USSSA Pride, based in Osceola County (FL), and will take over the roster and schedule of the departed Washington Glory. The 2009 NPF season just started and will operate with five teams-the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Philadelphia Force, Rockford Thunder and USSSA Pride. The league operated with six teams in 2008, but the New England Riptide decided to sit out the 2009 season.

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 2008-09 version can be found at http://www.lulu.com/content/6218580. Dan can be contacted at dankrieger@leaguesteamsnicknames.com.

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