Weekly Sports League and Franchise Reportby Dan Krieger
November 21, 2011 - USL PRO (USL PRO)
Frontier League: The new London (Ontario) team that will start play in the 2012 Frontier League has selected the London Rippers as its nickname. The team says the name is in reference to the baseball term for "ripping the ball", but the there has been backlash to the nickname for a possible reference to "Jack the Ripper", a serial killer from London, England.
American Association: After rumors that the Sioux Falls (SD) Fighting Pheasants team could be leaving the AA after the 2011 season, the team has signed a three-year agreement to remain in the AA. There was speculation the owner would move the team to the summer-collegiate Northwoods League. There is still uncertainty about the status of the league's Fort Worth Cats franchise, which was in the process of being sold and was dropped by the AA for failure to file a letter of credit for 2012. The league is optimistic a purchase deal can be worked for the team to return and has delayed issuance of its 2012 schedule.
Major League Baseball: As part of the sale of the Houston Astros, MLB plans to move the Astros from the National League Central Division to the American League West Division for the 2013 season. This will give each league three five-team divisions.
North American League: The NAL currently has three teams listed as being approved for 2012-the San Rafael (CA) Pacifics, Henderson (NV) Roadrunners, and a team based in Fort McMurray (Alberta). The Fort McMurray team still needs a home ballpark for 2012.
Pecos League: The proposed 2012 Pecos League team called the Santa Fe (NM) Mountain Lions has been renamed the Santa Fe Fuego. Prior to the Mountain Lions, the team was called the Santa Fe Sangres and then the Santa Fe Zozobras. Last season's White Sands Pupfish team, based in Alamogordo (NM), decided not to go forward with a proposed nickname change to either the Alamogordo F16's or the Alamogordo Spacemen.
Midwest Collegiate League: The summer-collegiate MCL announced that the DeKalb (IL) Liners will start play in the league's 2012 season. The team played the past two seasons (2010-11) as the DeKalb County Liners in the summer-collegiate Prospect League.
Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League: The ACPBL has announced a new franchise called the Toms River (NJ) Shooters has been added for the 2011-12 season. The Shooters will be placed in the Big Apple Division and take over the schedule of the New York Lions team, which has been removed from the league. The Long Island-based Lions played in the league's inaugural 2010-11 season.
Eastern Basketball Alliance: The EBA has started its 2011-12 season and has ten teams split into a five-team Northern Division and a five-team Southern Division. The Northern Division includes the returning Hudson Valley Hype and New York Wizards, along with three new teams called the Brooklyn Pride, NYC Jaguars, and Philadelphia Live. The Southern Division has five returning teams called the Harrisburg Horizon, Metropolitan All-Stars, Nova Hawks, Winchester Storm, and Washington Madness. The EBA had 14 teams last season, but lost 7 teams. Three of last season's teams left for the Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League and one team moved to the American Basketball Association.
Tobacco Road Basketball League: The new TRBL will start play as a regional independent basketball league in April 2012 and hopes to have five to ten teams. Three North Carolina-based teams-the Cary Invasion, Wilmington Sea Dawgs, and Fayetteville Crossover-have left the Continental Basketball League to join the new TRBL. The league hopes to develop partnerships with other regional leagues and develop a national championship tournament after its regular season.
Continental Basketball League: The springtime CBL has announced the addition of a new team called the Raleigh (NC) Rough Riders for 2012. This news comes just as three other North Carolina-based teams announced they were leaving the CBL for the new Tobacco Road Basketball League.
Lone Star Football League: The Texas-based indoor LSFL has announced a new team called the Mesquite Bandits will be the league's eighth team for its inaugural season in 2011. The league also announced the San Angelo Stampede Express will be a dormant LSFL franchise for 2012 and try to return for the 2013 season. The Stampede Express most recently played two seasons (2009-10) as part of the Indoor Football League, but sat out the 2011 season.
Continental Indoor Football League: A new team called the Evansville (IN) Rage plans to join the CIFL in 2013. The team plans to play a five-game exhibition schedule in the spring of 2012 to introduce the team to the city. A team called the Evansville Bluecats played two seasons (2003-04) in the National Indoor Football League and three season (2005-07) as part of United Indoor Football.
American Indoor Football: The new AIF team based in Fayetteville (NC) has officially announced it will be called the Cape Fear Heroes when it starts play in 2012. The city has had a few other indoor teams: the Cape Fear Wildcats played three seasons (2002-04) in arenafootball2 before moving to Albany (GA); the Fayetteville Guard played three seasons (2005-07) in the National Indoor Football League and three seasons (2008-10) in the American Indoor Football Association; and the Fayetteville Force played the 2011 season in the Southern Indoor Football League.
Stars Football League: The SFL, which played a short inaugural season this past summer, is offering team ownership opportunities in Charleston (SC), Austin, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Daytona Beach, Miami, New Orleans/Baton Rouge (LA), Canton (OH), St. Louis, Little Rock, Birmingham (AL), and Mobile (AL) for a proposed second season.
ECHL: The new Orlando-based ECHL franchise will be called the Orlando Solar Bears when it starts play in the Southern Division for the 2012-13 season. A team by the same name played six seasons (1995-2001) as part of the old International Hockey League. The IHL disbanded after the 2000-01 season when six teams moved to the American Hockey League. The Orlando Solar Bears were not part of this move to the AHL and the team folded.
American Hockey League: The owner of the Hartford-based Connecticut Whale in the AHL has presented plans for redevelopment of the team's arena that would meet requirements for a possible National Hockey League team in the future. Financing for the project would still need to be determined. The NHL's Hartford Whalers moved to Raleigh to become the Carolina Hurricanes for the 1997-98 season.
Premier Arena Soccer League: The Rocky Mountain Division in the 2011-12 PASL-Premier is expected to include four teams-the Colorado Blizzard (Colorado Springs), Edwards (CO) Freedom, Fort Collins Fury, and Rocky Mountain Rattlers (Highlands Ranch, CO).
United Soccer Leagues - PRO: The Division III USL PRO league has awarded a franchise to a group that plans to place a team in Tampa (Hillsborough County) for the 2013 season. The group also plans to operate a men's team in the USL's under-23 Premier Development League and a women's team in the USL W-League starting in 2012. The Tampa Bay area already has a Division II pro team called FC Tampa Bay, which is part of the North American Soccer League and plays its games in St. Petersburg.
National Premier Soccer League: The NPSL has announced five teams that will be added for its 2012 season and could add more teams prior to its annual meeting to be held in January 2012. The new Fort Smith (AR) United and two former Southern Premier Soccer League clubs, the Galveston Pirate SC and Rio Grande Valley Ocelots (Brownsville, TX), will join the Western Conference. The Eastern Conference will add the Myrtle Beach (SC) FC and the Biloxi-based Mississippi Storm. The Rio Grande Valley Ocelots evolved from the Rio Grande Valley Bravos team that was a member of the 2010 United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League. The Pirates had been one of the founding SPSL teams in 2010.
Southern Premier Soccer League: It appears as though the SPSL will not be playing its second fall-winter season, as the Galveston Pirate SC and Rio Grande Valley Ocelots (Brownsville, TX) left to join the National Premier Soccer League for its 2012 spring-summer season. The Galveston Pirates will continue to play a fall-winter season as part of the Houston Football Association. The SPSL was created in 2010 after plans for an NPSL-operated fall-winter soccer season fell through. Six SPSL teams played a 20-game fall-winter season and planned to expand and lengthen its schedule for a second fall-winter season in 2011-12. The SPSL had six teams participating in a 2011 "Summer Cup" season with each team playing ten games.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The WSPL has announced a new team called the Issaquah (WA) Soccer Club, which is based just east of Seattle, will be part of the league's Northwest Division in 2012.
United Soccer Leagues - W-League: The Los Angeles-based Chivas USA men's team of Major League Soccer has announced a partnership with the Los Angeles Strikers women's team in the USL W-League. This is the third MLS team to partner with a USL W-League team, as the Vancouver Whitecaps and DC United launched W-League teams for the 2011 season. The FC Dallas team in the MLS started an affiliated women's team in the 2011 Women's Premier Soccer League.
United Soccer Leagues - Premier Development League: The USL announced the Texas Dutch Lions FC, which will be based in the North Houston communities of The Woodlands and Conroe, will join the PDL for 2012. The club plans to add a women's USL W-League team in 2013. The club is affiliated with the Dutch club called FC Twente and the Dutch Lions FC, which operates the Dayton (OH) Dutch Lions teams in the men's USL PRO league and the women's W-League.
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 email@example.com.
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