Weekly Sports League and Franchise Reportby Dan Krieger
February 13, 2012 - Eastern League (EL)
North American League: New ownership recently took control of the Yuma (AZ) Scorpions in the NAL and changed the team's name to the Yuma Panthers for the 2012 season. Potential investors were also reported to be in discussions with the NAL about a possible future franchise to be located in Prescott (AZ).
Major League Baseball: The owner of MLB's Houston Astros has decided not to change the team nickname when it moves to the American League in 2013. Polling indicated a large majority of fans were not in favor of changing the team's name.
Carolina League: The city of Wilmington (NC) has approved a plan to negotiate with Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves and it could bring a high Class-A Carolina League team to Wilmington. The city has six months to work out plans for financing and construction of a new ballpark. The Braves have an affiliation with the independently owned Lynchburg (VA) Hillcats of the high Class-A Carolina League through the 2014 season. The Braves reached a tentative agreement to purchase the Hillcats and move the team, if Wilmington agrees to build a new stadium.
Eastern League: The city of Ottawa is recommending that Beacon Sports Capital Partners, which is representing a team in the Double-A Eastern League, be granted leasing rights to the city's baseball stadium. A new Ottawa team could start play in the Eastern League by 2013. There has been speculation that an Ottawa team would eventually become the Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, who are currently affiliated with the league's New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Manchester). There has also been speculation the Binghamton Mets will be the Eastern League team moving to Ottawa with Binghamton becoming home to the Batavia Muckdogs of the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League. The ownership of the Blue Jays, Mets, and Muckdogs deny these rumors.
Pacific Coast League: If the Tucson Padres franchise in the Triple-A PCL becomes available for sale, one potential buyer would like to move the team to El Paso (TX) and try to work out a deal to build a new downtown stadium for the team. The city currently has the El Paso Diablos team in the independent American Association. An affiliated Double-A Texas League team by the same name played in El Paso until moving to Springfield (MO) for the 2005 season. The Tucson Padres planned to move to a proposed new stadium in Escondido (CA) by the 2013 season, but stadium funding issues have delayed those plans.
Midwest Collegiate League: A new team called the Illinois Lincolns of Will County will join the MCL for its 2012 season. An eighth member team is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
American Basketball Association: The ABA has announced a new team called the Yakima (WA) Vipers will join the league for the 2012-13 season. A recently announced 2012-13 ABA team called the Miami Flame has relocated to central Florida and is now the Polk County Flame. The ABA also announced it would like to add two new regional divisions. One would include new teams in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, while the other would have teams in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and upstate New York.
National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada is seeking prospective ownership groups for possible 2012-13 expansion teams. The league has set a May 31, 2012 deadline for letters of intent.
National Basketball Association: An investor has been working with the city of Seattle over the past few months to try to bring an NBA team back to the city as early as next fall and is also trying to build a new arena near the city's Safeco Field. The league's Seattle Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season. Seattle has been following the situation in the city of Sacramento, which must come up with a viable arena proposal by March 1 to keep the NBA's Sacramento Kings. If the Kings were to move to Seattle, the team would play at KeyArena, the Sonics' former home, until a new arena is completed. That new arena could also become home to a relocated National Hockey League franchise. The Kings almost moved to Anaheim last year, but the league gave Sacramento additional time to develop an arena proposal. Anaheim is still interested in the Kings, if plans for a new Sacramento arena fall through.
Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League: The ACPBL announces that The Destroyers team has been renamed the Palmieri Jeans for the remainder of the 2011-12 season.
Indoor Football League: The IFL has announced it will add an expansion team called the Charlotte (NC) Speed for the 2013 season. The league hopes to have a full East Coast division in 2013 and is considering other eastern markets. A previous indoor football team called the Carolina Speed played three seasons (2007-09) in the American Indoor Football Association, sat out the 2010 season, and was part of the 2011 Southern Indoor Football League. The Carolina Speed was based in Concord (NC), just northeast of Charlotte, in 2008 and 2009, and was based in Charlotte in 2009 and 2011.
American Indoor Professional: The AIF has announced its 2012 Eastern Conference will include five full members called the Carolina Force (Concord, NC), Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC), Harrisburg (PA) Stampede, Macon (GA) Steel, and Maryland Reapers (Frederick), along with two affiliate members called the Tri-State Redhawks (Baltimore) and the Virginia Badgers. Each full member team will play a seven-game schedule with a minimum of four home games. The affiliate teams will play a limited schedule of four or five games as they try to secure arenas in the future. A new team called the North Alameda Knights was now listed as one of the league's Western Conference teams.
Stars Football League: The spring professional SFL has announced an eight-week schedule for its second season that will run from May 19 to July 7, 2012. The South Division will include four Florida-based teams called the Fort Pierce Orange, Port St. Lucie Swampdogs, Bradenton Ironmen, and the returning Fort Lauderdale Barracudas. The Port St. Lucie Swampdogs were originally announced as the Twin Cities Swampdogs representing Cape Coral and Fort Myers. The Ironmen nickname was formerly assigned to a proposed Little Rock Ironmen team. The North Division includes the Canton Bulldogs, an unnamed Cleveland team, and the returning Michigan Coyotes. South Division teams are scheduled to play six games, while the North Division teams will each play four games.
A1 Pro Football League: The proposed new A1FL plans to start play in April 2012 as an outdoor professional spring football league that will develop players for the National Football League and Canadian Football League. The league currently lists five teams called the Texas Steers (Dallas), Louisiana Lightning (Shreveport), Alabama Bandits (Phenix City), Mississippi Bullheads (Jackson), and Florida Sting (Jacksonville).
Northern Professional Hockey League: The proposed Double-A NPHL is still trying to organize for a start in 2012-13. The league was originally looking at possible teams in the Midwest, but has shifted its interest to markets like Roanoke (VA), Richmond (VA), Greensboro (NC), Huntington (WV), and Johnstown (PA). With this shift, the league may just use its NPHL acronym when it starts play rather than its full name that includes the word "Northern".
Central Hockey League: A report out of Denver stated that a new CHL team could play in the city next season. The Denver area had the CHL's Broomfield-based Rocky Mountain Rage for three seasons (2006-09) and the CHL's Loveland-based Colorado Eagles for eight seasons (2003-11). The Eagles moved to the ECHL for the 2011-12 season.
American Hockey League: The Portland (ME) Pirates of the AHL could play some games in Lewiston (ME) next season due to renovations at its home arena. The Pirates' owner is also considering the possibility of bringing an Eastern Junior Hockey League team to Lewiston next season.
Minnesota Junior Hockey League: The MnJHL has announced it will have eight teams for its 2012-13 season. The league's current seven teams will return and the new Steele County Blades, based in Owatonna (MN), will be added. Owatonna had two recent Tier II Junior-A teams in the North American Hockey League. The Southern Minnesota Express played three seasons (2005-08) before moving to Michigan as the Motor City Machine and the Owatonna Express played three seasons (2008-11) before being sold and becoming the Odessa (TX) Jackalopes.
North American Hockey League: The Wenatchee (WA) Wild of the Tier II junior-level NAHL was recently denied a move to the junior-A British Columbia Hockey League by USA Hockey. The Wild has been put up for sale and the team is not expected to return in 2012-13. The ownership is looking to purchase a Canada-based team in the BCHL and could establish a Tier III junior team in Wenatchee.
Women's Premier Soccer League-Elite League: The WPSL has announced four teams that will be part of a new, professional WPSL Elite League in 2012. Teams will included the Boston Breakers and Western New York Flash teams from the 2011 Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), along with the Chicago Stars and FC Indiana Lionesses (Lafayette) teams from the 2011 WPSL. The Chicago Red Stars played two seasons (2009-10) in the WPS before moving to the WSPL. The 2012 Elite Division will be based on the East Coast and in the Midwest and provides an option for pro players from the WPS, which has suspended operations for 2012. Approximately four other teams are expected to be added with at least two more in New England. Current WPSL teams in Phoenix, Dallas, and Houston want to move up to the pro level in 2013. A West Coast division is being planned for 2013 and current WPSL teams called the Bay Area Breeze, Orange County Waves, Los Angeles Vikings, and California Storm (Sacramento) are interested.
North American Lacrosse League: The arena in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has terminated the lease of the once-proposed NALL team called the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Shamrocks. The Shamrocks were supposed to start play last month in the NALL's inaugural season, but decided to move to a fall season with three other proposed NALL teams in Hershey (PA), Charlotte (NC), and Jacksonville (FL). These four teams are in a legal dispute with the NALL and the owner of the Shamrocks says the team will look for a new venue.
World TeamTennis: The Newport Beach Breakers of the WTT will be moving to Irvine (CA) for the 2012 season and the team will be called the Orange County Breakers.
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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