Weekly Sports League and Franchise Reportby Dan Krieger
March 12, 2012 - International League (IL)
International League: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees of the Triple-A International League will be playing all road games in 2012 due to stadium renovations. Since the team will play 60 of its 72 home games in the New York cities of Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Batavia, the team will play as the Empire State Yankees for the 2012 season. This temporary name change was made to try to stimulate interest in the team for games that will be played away from home. The team will play 37 home games in Rochester, 10 in Syracuse, 7 in Batavia, 6 in Buffalo, 4 in Pawtucket (RI), and 8 in Allentown (PA). When the team returns to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2013, it will most likely be under new ownership and could switch from the Yankees nickname.
Freedom Pro Baseball League: The new independent Freedom League plans to start its inaugural season in May 2012 with at least four teams located in Arizona. Proposed first-year teams include the Arizona Centennials (Scottsdale), Montezuma Federals (Prescott), Copper State Prospectors (East Valley), and the Sonoran Explorers (West Valley). Two other teams called the Western Wranglers and Grand Canyon Pioneers could start next season.
Liga Norte de Sonora: Mexico's Northern Sonora Baseball League announced six teams that will be part of its 2012 season starting on April 19. Teams called the Rieleros de Empalme, Ostioneros de Guaymas, Vaqueros de Agua Prieta, and Rojos de Caborca return from last season, while the Internacionales de Nogales and Mineros de Cananea return after several years away from the league. The league was still considering whether to add teams called the Membrilleros de Magdalena and Tiburones de Puerto Penasco for the 2012 season.
Pecos Spring League: The new developmental Pecos Spring League has started its inaugural 2012 season that will run from March 7 to March 24, 2012. The league currently has six teams listed-the Coastal Kingfish, Houston Apollos, Houston Hornets, Pearland Braves, Texas Coyote, and Westchase Express. All games will be played at the Coastal Baseball Park in Houston.
Texas Collegiate League: The TCL has announced a new team called the Woodlands Strykers, just north of Houston, will be part of its 2012 season.
International Basketball League: The IBL has announced its upcoming spring-summer schedule that will start next month and include a visiting Japan All-Star team and seven other full-schedule teams called the Salem Soldiers, Bellingham (WA) Slam, Edmonton Energy (Alberta), Olympia (WA) Reign, Portland (OR) Chinooks, Vancouver (WA) Volcanoes, and Orlando Venom. Two other teams called the Jersey G-Force and Yamhill (OR) Highflyers will play as short-schedule, or "branding teams" in 2012. The IBL's former Salem Stampede team returns for the 2012 season as the renamed Salem Soldiers. The Stampede played in the IBL for the 2006 and 2007 seasons and was part of the 2010 springtime season in the National Athletic Basketball League. The Yamhill Highflyers return after playing a full schedule in 2010 and sitting out the 2011 season. The IBL lost 2011 teams called the Albany (NY) Legends, Gary (IN) Splash, Kankakee County (IL) Soldiers, Lake County (IL) Stars, and Lansing (MI) Capitals to the new International Basketball Association (IBA), which played a 2011-12 fall-winter season and plans to start its first spring-summer season next month.
Circuito de Basquetbol de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): The CIBACOPA, which is Mexico's Pacific Coast Basketball League and the country's second basketball league after the Liga Nacional Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP), has started its 2012 season with 11 teams aligned in one table. The teams include the Bomberos de Mexicali (Baja California), Caballeros de Culiacan (Sinaloa), Coras de Tepic (Nayarit) was Lagartos UAN de Tepic (Lizards), Frayles de Guasave (Sinaloa), Fuerza Guindas de Nogales (Sonora), the new Garra Canera de Navolato (Sinaloa), Mineros de Cananea (Sonora), Ostioneros de Guaymas (Sonora), Pioneros de Los Mochis (Sinaloa), Rayos de Hermosillo (Sonora), and Zonkeys de Tijuana (Baja California).
Women's United States Basketball Association: The proposed WUSBA was having problems establishing final home arena dates for 9 of its 17 teams. The league's inaugural 2012 season was supposed to start on April 11, but that has now been cancelled. Due to issues obtaining satisfactory leases, the WUSBA plans to undertake construction of arenas for its teams starting in 2014. Once the new arenas are in place, the league plans to play a fall-winter season running from November 2015 through April 2016. Original plans called for all teams to be located in the southeastern United States, but the league now has 30 proposed teams across the country aligned into six-team regional divisions called the Southeast, Northeast, Southwest, Central, and Western.
Professional Indoor Football League: The new six-team PIFL has started its inaugural 2012 season with teams called the Alabama Hammers (Huntsville), Albany (GA) Panthers, Columbus (GA) Lions, Knoxville (TN) NightHawks, Louisiana Swashbucklers (Lake Charles), and Richmond (VA) Raiders. Knoxville is a new team, while the other five teams were part of the 2011 Southern Indoor Football League.
Arena Football League: After avoiding a last-minute player strike, the AFL has started its 2012 season. Of the 18 teams from last season, the Dallas Vigilantes did not return after two seasons in the league. The Tulsa Talons relocated to become the San Antonio Talons for 2012 and took Tulsa's spot in the National Conference Central Division. Dallas was removed from the National Conference Central Division, while the rest of the AFL alignment remained the same as last season.
Continental Indoor Football League: The CIFL has started its seventh season with six teams called the Chicago Vipers, Dayton Silverbacks, Evansville Rage, Indianapolis Enforcers, Port Huron (MI) Patriots, and Saginaw Sting. The Dayton Silverbacks and Indianapolis Enforcers are the only teams returning from the six-team league in 2011. The Chicago Knights and Port Huron Predators folded, while the Marion (OH) Blue Racers and Cincinnati Commandos became part of the 2012 United Indoor Football League. Indianapolis was a travel team in 2011, but found a home arena for 2012. The Chicago Vipers, Evansville Rage, and Port Huron Patriots are new teams, while the Saginaw Sting was part of the Ultimate Indoor Football League in 2011.
Lady Arena Football League: The proposed new LAFL plans to start play in May 2012 with a summertime league similar to the 8-on-8 indoor style played by the Lingerie Football League. Current teams include the Baton Rouge Felines, Houston Lady Panthers, Kansas City Tease, Los Angeles Rideretts, New Orleans Lady Dollz, and St. Louis Sting. Other teams are being planned for Atlanta, Oakland (Divas), and Atlanta. The Houston, Kansas City, and New Orleans teams were previously associated with the proposed new Sugar N Spice Football League, which is now comprised of five Texas-based teams.
Lingerie Football League-Canada: The LFL Canada has announced its new team based in Regina (Saskatchewan) will be called the Regina Rage when the league starts play in August 2012. Although the league was still talking with the cities of Calgary, Ottawa, and Hamilton, it appears as though the league might start with only four teams. The other three teams announced are the Toronto Triumph, BC Angels from Abbotsford (British Columbia), and a yet-to-be-named team in Saskatoon (Saskatchewan).
Lingerie Football League-Australia: The LFL is planning to start an Australian league in 2013 with the cities of Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney being targeted. The LFL will tour Australia in June 2012 with two teams comprised of players from its Eastern and Western conferences. The teams will play exhibition games in prospective Australian markets.
National Hockey League: An ownership group has reportedly approached the NHL about a franchise for Saskatoon (Saskatchewan), but due to the overall market size it is considered a long shot. Other larger markets like Seattle, Las Vegas, Quebec City, Kansas City, and southern Ontario have been mentioned as possible destinations for a relocated franchise. The NHL blocked a potential sale and move of the St. Louis Blues to Saskatoon back in 1983.
American Hockey League: The Portland (ME) Pirates of the AHL plan to play some home games in Lewiston (ME) during the 2012-13 season due to renovations to its home arena. The Portland Junior Pirates of the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League also plan on playing some games in Lewiston next season as part of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. With these teams playing in Lewiston, a possible minor pro Federal Hockey League team in Lewiston does not appear to be a possibility. There has been talk of bringing a Tier-I United States Hockey League team to Lewiston in the next few years, if the USHL decides to add some eastern teams in the future.
Ontario Junior Hockey League: The Canadian Junior-A OJHL plans to reduce its membership to 24 teams for next season with the elimination of the Brampton Capitals, Huntsville Otters, and Vaughn Vipers.
Major League Soccer: The MLS has started its 2012 season with 19 teams after the addition of the Montreal Impact in the off-season. The owner of the Impact developed the new MLS team from a club by the same name that was part of the Division II North American Soccer League in 2011. The league has a ten-team Eastern Conference with the addition of Montreal, along with a nine-team Western Conference.
United Soccer Leagues W-League: The Fort Collins-based Colorado Force of the USL W-League has entered into a partnership with the Colorado Rapids men's team in Major League Soccer and the Force will be renamed the Colorado Rapids Women for the 2012 season. The W-League's Vancouver Whitecaps Women, Seattle Sounders Women, and D.C United Women have partnership or ownership arrangements with related men's team in the MLS. In addition, the W-League's Los Angeles Strikers team has a cross-marketing relationship with the Los Angeles-based CD Chivas USA from the MLS.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The Clovis Sidekicks team in the WPSL has come under new ownership for the 2012 season and was renamed the Central Valley Heat. The team will play its home games at Fresno City College. The WPSL has officially announced the new Landover-based team called the Maryland Capitols will be part of the 2012 season.
Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association: The semi-pro MILA has announced two new teams called the Minnesota Jaxx and Madison (WI) Capitals have been added for its second season in 2012.
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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