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Games Today




Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 21, 2009 - arenafootball2 (af2)

BASEBALL

Canadian-American League: The Brockton (MA) Rox franchise in the Can-Am League missed a recent ballpark lease payment and the franchise is reportedly facing some financial problems. The Rox started play in 2002 as part of the Northeast League, which was the predecessor to the Can-League. The league is currently looking for a new home for its struggling American Defenders of New Hampshire franchise.

Eastern League: The Double-A Eastern League and Minor League Baseball are expected to make an announcement shortly as to which Eastern League team will be moving to Richmond (VA) next season. It is expected the Norwich-based Connecticut Defenders will be on the move to Richmond.

Frontier League: The Frontier League's Kalamazoo Kings franchise is reportedly considering suspension of operations for next season.

Northwoods League: The city of Willmar in central Minnesota has approved the use of its ballpark for a summer-collegiate team in the 2010 Northwoods League.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The ABA has added the Central Valley Dawgs franchise in the Fresno (CA) area for its upcoming 2009-10 season. A previous team called Visalia Dawgs entered the ABA in 2004 as a last-minute replacement for the Calgary Drillers team. The Dawgs then became the Central Valley Dawgs, but dropped from the league after the 2004-05 season. The new Pittsburgh Phantoms franchise, which was recently suspended by the proposed Global Professional Basketball League, has reportedly joined the ABA for its 2009-10 season.

Global Professional Basketball League: The new GPBL recently announced plans to switch its inaugural season from a winter season starting in January 2010 to a spring/summer schedule running from April through June 2010. The league currently has four teams-the Lancaster (PA) Liberty, Canton (OH) Conquest, Barberton (OH) Wizards, and North Jersey Runnin' Regulators-getting ready for 2010 and it is trying to finalize several additional teams.

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA president recently visited Tulsa (OK) to talk with the investment group trying to bring a Tulsa-based franchise to the city in 2010 and determine its progress. The future of the league's Indiana Fever franchise has been questioned as its financial situation will require an increase in attendance and sponsorships to survive.

Iowa Basketball Exposure League: The IBEL has been created to try to develop basketball players for international teams and the National Basketball Development League. The league plans to have three teams called the Central Iowa Hybrids, Iowa Wind Turbines, and Des Moines Hydrogen start a May to July 2010 schedule with all games played at one location in Urbandale (Des Moines). Similar summertime developmental leagues have been tried in Kentucky and Mississippi.

FOOTBALL

American Indoor Football Association: The AIFA recently held a league meeting and announced it will add teams in Trenton (NJ), Richmond (VA), and Wenatchee Valley (WA) for 2010, while negotiations continue for other expansion possibilities. The new teams are expected to be called the New Jersey Kings, Richmond Revolution, and Wenatchee Valley Venom.

Continental Indoor Football League: The Wheeling (WV) Wildcats franchise has apparently folded after playing only the 2009 season in the CIFL. The team has no arena dates set aside for next season.

Arenafootball2: There is still no official word as to the makeup of a rumored new league that would combine af2 and former Arena Football League markets into a two-tier alignment. The owner of the af2's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers apparently has until the end of September to inform this new league whether on not a team will be fielded for the 2010 season. The owner of the Rio Grande Valley Dorados does not think his franchise would be part of this new league, but a Rio Grande Valley team could be part of some other league next season.

Independent Indoor Football Alliance: The semi-pro IIFA has announced seven teams that will participate in the league's third season in 2010. The DFW Doom team has been renamed the Southlake (TX) Pirates. Other returning teams from 2009 include the North Texas Crunch (Carrollton), Texas Wranglers (Allen), and Texas Krush (The Colony). The league has added expansion teams called the Arlington (TX) Aviators, Oklahoma Titans (Ardmore), and Missouri City Blitz (Houston). The 2010 schedule has some IIFA teams playing games against teams from the new Regional Indoor Football League and the new World Indoor Football League.

Regional Indoor Football League: The new RIFL plans to start play in 2010 with teams in Texas, Colorado, and Florida. Some of the teams that appear to be affiliated with the RIFL include the Midland-based West Texas Rustlers, the Colorado Titans, and the Texas Regulators of North Richland Hills. The Rustlers and Regulators are each scheduled to play a game against teams from the Independent Indoor Football Alliance in 2010.

World Indoor Football League: The WIFL is apparently planning to start play in 2010. One of its teams, the Birmingham Barracudas, is scheduled to play a 2010 game against North Texas Crunch of the Independent Indoor Football Alliance.

Women's Spring Football League: The WSFL has announced plans to start play in the spring of 2010. The league currently has five teams listed-the River City Hawks (Omaha), Kansas City Storm, Topeka Mudcats, Seattle Warbirds, and Rose City Wildcats (Portland). A four-team league by the same name played a 2002 season with teams in Portland (OR), Boise (ID), Eugene (OR), and Tacoma (WA).

HOCKEY

Northern Junior Hockey League: Four teams that were to make up the second season of the A-level United Junior Hockey League for 2009-10 have now joined with four teams from the new Northern Junior Hockey League to form an eight-team league under the NJHL banner. The UJHL's Adirondack Predators, Philadelphia Thunder, Troy (OH) Bruins, and Wooster Oilers have merged with the NJHL's Jamestown Jets, Findlay Grrrowl, Indiana Inferno, and Team Ulysse. Jamestown, Findlay and Team Ulysse were part of the UJHL last season before switching to the new NJHL earlier this year.

Ontario Hockey League: The 20-team OHL has started its 2009-10 season with the same teams and league alignment as last season. The Eastern Conference is split into a five-team East Division and a five-team Central Division, while the Western Conference is split into a five-team Midwest Division and a five-team West Division. The OHL, along with the 22-team Western Hockey League and the 18-team Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, comprise the major-junior organization called the Canadian Hockey League.

Western Hockey League: The 22-team WHL, which is one of three major-junior leagues in the Canadian Hockey League, has started its 2009-10 season with the same teams and alignment as last season. The Eastern Conference is split into a six-team East Division and six-team Central Division, while the Western Conference is split into a five-team British Columbia Division and a five-team United States Division.

United States Hockey League: The Dubuque Thunderbirds, currently a member of the Tier-3 Junior-A Central States Hockey League, are seeking financing for a new arena that would allow the team to move up to the Tier-1 Junior-A USHL for the 2010-11 season. The city had a team called the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL from 1980 to 2001. The Thunderbirds were formed for the 2001-02 season and spent five seasons in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League before switching to the CSHL in 2006. The USHL is the top junior-level hockey league in the United States and recently started its 2009-10 with 14 teams after adding two new teams this season.

Major League Roller Hockey: The MLRH plans to operate three different leagues starting this fall-the MLRH2 full-contact league, the MLRH-AAA elite non-contact league, and the MLRH-AA entry-level non-contact league. As of now, the MLRH reports it has 15 markets with 26 teams and more to be announced. The eastern teams will start play in November 2009, while teams on the West Coast will start play in December 2009. A team called the Virginia Wings will be part of three MLRH leagues with teams playing at a number of venues in the state. Virginia will play in the MLRH South with the South Carolina Buccaneers, Florida Fusion, Myrtle Beach Manta Rays, along with teams in North Carolina and Atlanta.

SOCCER

Women's Professional Soccer League: The WPS held its expansion draft for the new Atlanta Beat and Philadelphia Independence franchises, which will start play for the league's second season in 2010.

Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL-Pro): The PASL-Pro league has announced the new Canton-based Ohio Vortex as a new franchise for its upcoming 2009-10 indoor soccer season. The Vortex is expected to be part of a five-team Eastern Division with other teams in Cincinnati, Detroit, Louisville, and St. Louis. The league is also planning a five-team Western Division for 2009-10.

United Soccer Leagues-First Division: The Miami FC Blues of the USL First Division face an uncertain future. The team's owner almost folded the club prior to the season, but the team played in 2009 and suffered from poor attendance at two different venues. If the team plays in 2010, it is unclear if it would remain with the USL or be part of a proposed breakaway league with the Team Owners Association.

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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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.