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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 12, 2011 - North American League (NAL)

BASEBALL

Can-Am League: The Pittsfield (MA) Colonials of the independent Can-Am League have had the league's worst attendance this season, so the team's post-season games were to be played on the road. Team ownership could not guarantee all expenses would be paid if the games were played at home and the ownership's viability for next season is doubtful. The league's Newark Bears franchise also suffered from poor attendance in 2011 and its future is uncertain. The owner of the Worcester Tornadoes claims their team will return in 2012, but is not too confident on the future of the league.

North American League: The future of the NAL's Lake County Fielders in Zion (IL) looks doubtful as the team and the city are in a dispute over a proposed permanent ballpark that has yet to be completed. The city of Zion built a temporary ballpark for the Fielders, but it was not ready in time for the 2011 season. Zion wants to collect back rent from the Fielders for 2010 and 2011 and the Fielders plan to sue for breach of contract by Zion. The future of the league's Calgary Vipers franchise is uncertain due to its deteriorating financial situation and the ailing health of the team's owner. The Edmonton Capitals will be looking at their options for next season and again expressed interest in getting the city back into the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. A proposed new ballpark for an NAL team in San Rafael (CA) faced local opposition and revised plans feature only an 800-seat facility, which would make it hard for the team to turn a profit.

Frontier League: With the recent rejection of a proposed ballpark plan for a Frontier League team in Clawson (MI), which is north of Detroit in Oakland County, neighboring Macomb County, a little farther northeast of Detroit, is interested in helping the owners of the former Oakland County Cruisers find a home. About ten years ago, the city of Mount Clemens in Macomb County had considered building a ballpark for a Frontier League team, but those plans never materialized.

Atlantic League: In 2012, the Atlantic League will add the Houston area's Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters franchise, which will be the league's first team in its western expansion. The Skeeters will replace the league's Road Warriors travel team as the eighth team in 2012. The Atlantic League voted in 2009 to eventually add a four-team Western Division and there is talk of a second western team joining in 2013. The league is considering other locations in the Houston area, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Louisiana for potential teams that would be within four hours of each other.

New York-Penn League: It appears as though the Batavia (NY) Muckdogs of the short-season Class-A NY-Penn League will return to Batavia for the 2012 season and will again be operated by the Rochester Red Wings of the Triple-A International League. The Red Wings have been operating the Muckdogs since the team went up for sale in 2008. For each year the Red Wings operate the club it will receive 5 percent of the final sales price if the franchise is sold. The team is eventually expected to be sold and moved to a new location. Batavia has the smallest ballpark in the league.

Pecos League: The Pecos League is interested in adding the Trinidad (CO) market for its 2012 season and has a potential team listed as the Trinidad Triggers.

Gulf Coast Baseball League: The new developmental independent GCBL has announced its first team will be the Hattiesburg (LA) Hounds. Teams will play a 72-game schedule starting in May 2012. The league hopes to have at least six teams along the Gulf Coast and north into Arkansas and Georgia.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association: The city of Sacramento has until March 2012 to present its financing and plans for a new arena to the NBA in an effort to keep the league's Sacramento Kings in the city. The Kings were about to move to Anaheim for the 2011-12 season, but the league granted the city one year to come up with a new arena financing plan.

National Basketball League of Canada: The new NBL-Canada franchise to be located in the province of Prince Edward Island will be called the Summerside Storm when it starts play in the league's inaugural 2011-12 season.

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: The LNBP, Mexico's top professional basketball league, started its 2011-12 season last week with 14 teams. The league lost 7 of its 18 teams from last season, but added three other teams called the Barreteros de Zacatecas, Correcaminos UTA Victoria, and Aquilas Rojas de San Juan del Rio. The regular season runs to the end of December.

Baloncesto Superior Nacional de Femenino: The women's division of the BSN, Puerto Rico's top men's basketball league, started its 2011 season last month with eight teams: Atleticas San German, Gigantes Carolina, Leonas Ponce, Mets Guaynabo, Montaneras Morovis, Tigresas Aguas Buenas, Valencias Juncos, and Warriors San Juan. The season runs from mid-August to mid-October with teams playing 22 games.

American Basketball Association: The ABA has announced a team called the Jackson (MS) Showboats has been added as one of its 2012 expansion teams. The league had the Jackson-based Mississippi Blues team that played in the 2008-09 season.

United Basketball Federation of America: The concept of the UBFA was created as a national model for minor basketball leagues that would develop standards to be followed by the teams and recognized by sponsors, arena operators, and fans. An initial convention was held in Chicago this weekend and hosted by the Premier Basketball League. Other leagues participating in the event were to include the Continental Basketball League, International Basketball League, and the American Basketball Association.

FOOTBALL

Ultimate Indoor Football League: The UIFL has announced its new 2012 Northern Kentucky franchise, which is based in Highland Heights, will be called the Northern Kentucky Monsters. A 2011 UIFL team called the Northern Kentucky River Monsters played at the same venue, but ownership of that team left the league after the 2011 and plan to move to Indiana as part of the 2012 Continental Indoor Football League. The new Monsters team will retain all records from last season's Northern Kentucky team. The league also announced that its new Raleigh (NC) franchise for 2012 will be called the Carolina Aviators.

Professional Indoor Football League: A new league called the PIFL plans to start play in 2012 and is expected to be comprised of some southeastern teams that were part of the 2011 Southern Indoor Football League. These include the Alabama Hammers (Huntsville), Albany (GA) Panthers, Columbus (GA) Lions, Louisiana Swashbucklers (Lake Charles), Richmond Raiders, and the new Tennessee Gamblers (Knoxville).

Lone Star Football League: The new indoor LSFL plans to start play in 2012 with Texas-based indoor football teams. An official announcement is expected next week, but the LSFL is expected to be comprised of four teams from the 2011 Southern Indoor Football League and two new teams. These include the Abilene Ruff Riders, Corpus Christi Hammerheads, Houston Stallions, and Rio Grande Valley Magic, along with new teams called the Frisco Falcons and Laredo Rattlesnakes.

Arena Football League: The owner of the National Hockey League's Nashville Predators wants an AFL team to return to the city and share the team's arena during its off-season. The city had two previous AFL franchises called the Nashville Kats. The first Kats team played five seasons (1997-2001) before moving to Atlanta as the Georgia Force. The second Kats team played three seasons (2005-07) before folding.

American Indoor Football Association: The owner of the Yakima Valley Warriors, which last played as part of the AIFA Western Conference in 2010, has announced the team will not be returning for the 2012 season and is up for sale. The owner attempted to form the AIFA-West league in 2011 with Yakima Valley as one of its teams, but the league never got off the ground and the team went dormant for the 2011 season.

HOCKEY

Continental Hockey Association: The Junior-B level CHA has been renamed the Eastern States Hockey League for the upcoming 2011-12 season to reflect the geographic location of its 13 member teams. The CHA has been around since the 1996-97 season.

Federal Hockey League: The Trenton Titans, the ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers and the American Hockey League's Adirondack Phantoms, announced an affiliation for the 2011-12 season with the FHL's expansion team called the New Jersey Outlaws, based in Wayne (NJ). The ECHL is considered the "Premier AA League", while the FHL is a Single-A pro league.

SOCCER

United Soccer Leagues-Major Indoor Soccer League: The new Chicago-based franchise in the 2011-12 MISL will be called the Chicago Kick. The Kick replaces the Chicago Riot franchise that was part of the MISL in its 2010-11 season.

United Soccer Leagues-Premier Development League: The PDL has announced a new team called the Palmetto FC Bantams will be based in Greenwood (SC) and will be part of the 2012 season. The Nashville Metros team in the PDL is making improvements to its soccer complex and wants to move up a level to the USL PRO league in one to two years. The team's ownership eventually wants to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to middle Tennessee.

North American Soccer League: A group called Traffic Sports USA, which owns the NASL's Fort Lauderdale Srikers, also operates the league's Carolina RailHawks and Atlanta Silverbacks teams. According to United States Soccer Federation rules, the group will eventually need to come up with a plan on how it will relinquish ownership of all but one team. Traffic Sports has been trying to divest its interests in the Carolina and Atlanta clubs. The league's NSC Minnesota Stars club is currently owned by the NASL.

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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North American League Stories from September 12, 2011


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.