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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 8, 2011 - American Association (AA)

BASEBALL

Atlantic Baseball League: A proposed project in Nassau County (NY) that would have financed a new arena for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League and a minor league ballpark for an ABL team was voted down this past week. The league had hoped the Nassau County team would become a natural rival for the Long Island Ducks located in neighboring Suffolk County. The ABL is said to be talking to Woodland (TX) in Montgomery County for a possible new team that could be a rival for the league's new Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters team, which will start play in 2012. The league's new Loudon (VA) Hounds franchise will most likely have to wait until the 2013 season to start play.

American Association: The owner of a proposed AA team based in Schaumburg (IL) might switch the team to the Frontier League in 2012 instead of the AA. The owner also controls the Frontier League's Joliet Slammers team, which has had a fairly successful first season. A Montgomery County (TX) franchise, based in The Woodlands, had hoped to start play in the 2013 AA season. Officials have now initiated talks with the Atlantic Baseball League, which will add its first Texas team in Sugar Land for the 2012 season. The AA effort for a new ballpark and retail complex has suffered some funding delays.

North American League: The NAL's Lake County Fielders team, based in Zion (IL), informed the city that if it does not start construction on a permanent stadium this month, the team will suspend operations. For two seasons the Fielders have been playing in a temporary stadium developed by the city, but the city has had trouble developing a funding plan for completion of the project. The city claims the Fielders have not made certain payments and recently served the team with a notice of default.

Northwest League: The city of Milwaukie (OR), just south of Portland, is trying to build a 4,000-seat ballpark for a possible Class-A Northwest League team. The city of Vancouver (WA), just north of Portland, is trying to build a ballpark for the league's Yakima (WA) Bears. A group in Boise (ID) wants to build a new venue for the Northwest League's Boise Hawks as a way of keeping its franchise, which has an affiliation agreement through the 2012 season with the Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs.

Pecos League: The six-team Pecos League now lists three four-team divisions (New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado) for a possible 2012 alignment. The proposed Artesia (NM) Numexers are now listed as the Artesia Drillers. A proposed team in Portales (NM), just south of Clovis (NM), is no longer listed, but a proposed team in Trinidad (CO), south of Pueblo, has been added.

Independent Baseball League: One of the creators of the Continental Indoor Football League is trying to start the professional Independent Baseball League with teams playing a 36- to 40-game schedule starting in June. The IBL would have teams in close proximity to minimize travel costs. Some locations under consideration are the Ohio cities of Cleveland, Bowling Green, Galion, and Tiffin, along with Muncie (IN).

BASKETBALL

Continental Basketball League: The CBL now lists the Tampa Bay Saints as one of its 11 teams. The league operated with eight teams in its second season of 2011. Two other Florida-based teams called the Miami Stars and Palm Beach Titans have been listed, but did not play in 2011.

National Basketball Association: A task force has been formed in the city of Seattle to try to build a new arena that could house both an NBA and a National Hockey League team. The NBA's Seattle SuperSonics relocated to become the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2008-09 season.

International Basketball League: After two year's of operation, the IBL's Midwestern-based Winter Division will not return for a 2011-12 season. At least three of the four teams from the 2010-11 Winter Division, the Battle Creek (MI) Knights, Gary (IN) Splash, and Kankakee (IL) Soldiers, have left the IBL to be part of a new Midwestern-based league called the Independent Basketball Association. The IBL will continue to concentrate on its eighth spring-summer season in 2012. The IBL's Los Angeles Lightning planned to participate in the 2011-12 Winter Division, but now will be part of the regular 2012 season.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new 2012 team called the Calgary (Alberta) Crush will be added to the league's new Pacific Northwest Division. The Crush will play a few games this season against the Seattle Mountaineers and Washington Rampage, which have been moved to the new Pacific Northwest Division along with Calgary and a new 2012 team called the Alaska Quake. The league's new Tampa team, which was originally announced as the Sharks, is now listed as the Tampa Rain in the Atlantic South Division.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The Oklahoma City Bricktown Brawlers franchise, which played only the 2011 season as part of the IFL, has filed for bankruptcy liquidation.

Southern Indoor Football League: The recently announced Laredo Rattlers team, which may or may not be part of the 2012 SIFL, has changed its name to the Laredo Rattlesnakes due to a conflict with the nickname used by the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League. The Laredo Rattlesnakes' owner is part owner of the SIFL's Rio Grande Valley Magic and the Corpus Christi Hammerheads. These three teams could join with other Texas teams in Houston, Abilene, Odessa, and Amarillo to form a Texas-based indoor league for next season. The Florida Stingrays, based in the Fort Myers area, have signed a letter of intent with the SIFL. The Stingrays were part of the American Indoor Football Association in 2008.

American Indoor Football Association: The AIFA did not play in 2011, but some of its eastern teams played as part of the 2011 Southern Indoor Football League season. The AIFA will reportedly restart in 2012 with some of the teams returning. The AIFA could also start a western division for 2012 and the newly formed Sacramento Eagles team could be one of the western teams.

United States Football League: The new USFL, a proposed outdoor professional spring football league, is still working toward a 2012 start and is accepting deposits from potential owners. An owner's meeting is scheduled for the end of this month and an announcement about the league is expected soon after.

HOCKEY

Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey: The Quebec-based LNAH, or the North American Hockey League, will again have seven teams for its 2011-12 season. The Sherbrooke Saint-Francois Saints team has moved to the city of Windsor (Quebec), just north of Sherbrooke, and has been renamed HC Windsor. The Sorel-Tracy GCI Environment is now called the HC Caverna de Sorel-Tracy. The minor professional LNAH evolved from the Quebec Semi-Pro Hockey League for the 2004-05 season.

ECHL: The ECHL has officially announced its 2011-12 alignment that will feature 20 teams in 5 four-team divisions. The Wheeling Nailers have been moved from the North Division to the Atlantic Division and the expansion Chicago Express was added to the North Division. The new Trenton Titans replace the departed Trenton Devils in the Atlantic Division. The Colorado Eagles, formerly of the Central Hockey League, have been added to the Mountain Division to replace the departed Victoria Salmon Kings. The South Division and the Pacific Division remain the same for 2011-12.

National Hockey League: Voters in Nassau County (NY) voted against a proposal that would have financed construction of a new arena for the NHL's New York Islanders. With this news and the fact that the Islanders' lease expires in 2015, there has been speculation the team will eventually relocate.

Minnesota Junior Hockey League: The new Owatonna (MN) team that will start play in the 2012-13 season of the Tier III junior-level MnJHL has selected Steele County Blades as its name.

Superior International Junior Hockey League: The SIJHL has added a seventh team called the Iron Range Ironheads for the 2011-12 season. The team is based in Hibbing (MN). The SIJHL is one of the Junior-A leagues that make up the association called the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

SOCCER

Women's Professional Soccer: The WPS is trying to terminate the magicJack FC franchise after the 2011 season due to its reported failure to follow league standards. The magicJack FC owner, who purchased the former Washington (DC) Freedom franchise prior to the 2011 season and relocated it to Boca Raton (FL), refutes the league's charges.

National Premier Soccer League: A San Diego-based soccer team called Tiburones United FC plans to join the NPSL for its 2012 season. The league currently has two other San Diego area teams called the SD Flash and San Diego Boca FC.

OTHER

North American Lacrosse League: The new indoor minor-league NALL has officially announced Jacksonville (FL) has been awarded the league's third franchise. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Shamrocks and a yet-to-be-named team in Charlotte (NC) were previously announced for the league's inaugural season set to start in January 2012.

Canadian Lacrosse League: The new indoor Canadian Lacrosse League (CLAX) has identified six eastern locations for teams in its inaugural season beginning in January 2012. These include Montreal (Quebec) and the Ontario cities of Brampton, Kitchener, London, Ohsweken, and Oshawa. A Peterborough (Ontario) team was under consideration, but ran into arena availability issues. The team could move to an arena in Cobourg, south of Peterborough, and still be part of the 2012 season. The league wanted to add a western division with teams in British Columbia for its inaugural season. These could still be added, but it would have to happen before an August 21, 2011 deadline for first-year teams.

World Series of Boxing: The team-based international boxing league called the World Series of Boxing plans to again have 12 teams for its second season of 2011-12. For its inaugural 2010-11 season, the league had 12 teams split into four-team conferences called Americas, Asia, and Europe. The Memphis Force and Mexico City Guerreros of the America Conference have been replaced by the Mumbai (India) Fighters and a team in Germany. The league has realigned into a six-team Group A and a six-team Group B for 2011-12. The Moscow Kremlin Bears team is now listed as Dynamo Moscow.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the "leagueology almanac" known as "Leagues, Teams & Nicknames", which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The latest 2010-11 edition is available at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/leagues-teams-nicknames-the-leagueology-almanac-2010-11/15228513. 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.