Weekly Sports League and Franchise Reportby Dan Krieger
May 7, 2012 - Atlantic League (AtL)
North American League: With the owner of the Yuma (AZ) Panthers and Orange County/Fullerton Flyers pulling out of the NAL's Northern Division for the upcoming 2012, the owners of the two remaining Northern Division teams-the San Rafael (CA) Pacifics and Maui Na Koa Ikaika-plan to each develop travel teams to replace the Panthers and Flyers for the 2012 season. The owner of the San Rafael Pacifics has created a travel team called the Sonoma County (CA) Grapes, while the Maui owner has created a team called the Hawaii Stars, based in the city of Hilo on the island of Hawaii. The league's six-team Texas-based Southern Division remains the same.
Atlantic Baseball League: The ABL has expansion plans for the future and eventually wants to grow to 16 teams. The league wants to add one more team in either the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast to its current seven eastern teams for a total of eight eastern teams. Along with its first Texas-based team called the Sugar Land Skeeters, the ABL wants to create a four-team Southwest Division by adding three more teams in or near Texas. After this expansion, the league could consider adding four western teams, some of which could be based in California.
International League: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees of the Triple-A International League were renamed the Empire State Yankees for 2012, as the team plays its home games at various ballparks due to renovations at its home field. The team could be re-branded with a new nickname when it returns to its home for the 2013 season.
Eastern League: With all of the recent talk of Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays moving its Double-A Eastern League team to Ottawa (Ontario) for 2013, it appears as though the Blue Jays are ready to sign an agreement to keep the New Hampshire Fisher Cats as its Eastern League affiliate through the 2014 season. Ottawa is interested in bringing an Eastern League team to the city's stadium, but its needs to find an owner willing to move its team there.
World Basketball Association Exposure League: The WBA Exposure League team list for 2012 has been updated and now includes teams called the Atlanta Blaze (Brookhaven), Conyers (GA) Court Kings, Gastonia (NC) Gamers, Gwinnett (GA) Majic, Mauldin Stars (Greenville, SC), Rome (GA) Gladiators, and the Upstate Heat (Anderson, SC). The new Gastonia team was originally listed as the Knights.
Florida Basketball Association: The new FBA has announced its inaugural 2012 schedule will feature four teams playing a twelve-game schedule from early May to late July. The 2012 teams include the Florida Flight (Orlando), Palm Beach Titans, Tampa Bay Rebels, and Heartland Prowl (Avon Park, FL).
National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada has expressed interest in adding additional teams in Ontario for its next season to go with current teams in London and Oshawa. The league recently met with officials and potential ownership groups in the Ontario cities of Kitchener, St. Catharines, and Mississauga and stated it has interested ownership groups in Hamilton and Windsor. Of its seven teams from the inaugural 2011-12 season, the Quebec Kebs team had the poorest attendance and was a concern for next season. The Maritimes region of Canada had four teams in 2011-12 and could also grow with the right ownership in the provinces of Nova Scotia (Sydney) and New Brunswick. In the near future, the league could eventually operate with an Ontario Division and a Maritimes Division.
American Basketball Association: The ABA has announced a new team called the Gainesville (GA) Heat plans to be part of the Southeast Division for the 2012-13 season.
Women's American Basketball Association: Although the WABA has not started league play as planned, two WABA teams called the Indy Finest (Indianapolis) and the Chicago Lady Steam planned to hold an exhibition game this past week. The league currently lists Chicago, Indianapolis, and Greenville (NC) as 2012-13 expansion teams.
Canadian Football League: The group trying to bring a CFL expansion franchise to Ottawa (Ontario) has stated it is still on track to join the league for the 2014 season. A group of local residents opposed redevelopment plans that included renovation of the city's football stadium and took the matter to court, but a recent provincial court of appeals shot down their case.
Stars Football League: The outdoor pro SFL plans to start its second season later this month and recently announced it will have five Florida-based teams for 2012. These include the returning Fort Lauderdale Barracudas and Daytona Beach Racers, along with new teams called the Fort Pierce Orange, Southwest Florida Swampdogs, and the Port St. Lucie Ironmen. Two other teams called the Michigan Coyotes and New Orleans Jazz from last season did not return.
American Indoor Football: The future of the AIF's Macon (GA) Steel franchise is uncertain, as payroll and arena lease payments have not been made. The Steel has played four games with a 1-3 record.
United Indoor Football League: An outdoor team called the Letcher County Wolves of the semi-pro Alliance Football League replaced the UIFL's Western PA Sting team for a game last weekend against the Eastern Kentucky Drillers. The league's struggling Johnstown (PA) Generals team cancelled a game this weekend against the Sting. There has been speculation the Sting and the Generals would fold, but the Generals claim they have not folded and the game will be replayed next weekend.
Central Hockey League: The Laredo Bucks of the CHL notified the league that the franchise will go dormant for the 2012-13 season due to declining attendance and financial issues. The ownership indicated it would continue to maintain its CHL franchise rights for a possible return in the future or relocation to another city. The Bucks had been part of the CHL since joining as an expansion team for the 2002-03 season. The CHL has lost several other Texas-based teams over the past few seasons: the San Angelo Saints (2005), Lubbock Cotton Kings (2007), Austin IceBats (2008), Amarillo Gorillas (2010), Corpus Christy IceRays (2010), and Odessa Jackalopes (2011). The league's new Denver franchise, which plans to start play in the 2012-13 season, might take the Denver Cutthroats as its nickname.
Minnesota Junior Hockey League: The Tier III Great Lakes Junior Hockey League (GLJHL) is splitting up and eight of its teams from the 2011-12 season have moved to the Tier III MnJHL where they will be placed in a new Great Lakes Division for the 2012-13 season. The seven returning MnJHL teams, plus the expansion Steele County Blades, will comprise a new Minnesota Division. The GLJHL teams moving to the MnJHL include the Central Wisconsin Saints, Chicago Junior Bulldogs, Fort Wayne Federals, St. Louis Frontenacs, Tri-City Icehawks, Wisconsin Rampage, Wooster Oilers, and a relocated Kalkaska Roughriders team. The GLJHL still plans to operate in 2012-13 with at least ten other teams that will move from under USA Hockey as its governing body to the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The league will be called the GLJHL-AAU.
North American Soccer League: The eight-team NASL wants to grow to 20 teams by the 2020 season and has set its sights on San Diego, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Sacramento, and the Los Angeles area for expansion. A proposed Ottawa (Ontario) expansion team, which will share the city's renovated Canadian Football League stadium, will most likely not start until the 2014 season when stadium renovations are expected to be completed.
Professional Arena Soccer League: The PASL officially announced the new Dallas Sidekicks indoor soccer team will be part of the 2012-13 season. The Sidekicks will play home games at the Allen (TX) Event Center. Previous indoor soccer teams called the Dallas Sidekicks spent eight seasons (1984-92) in the original Major Indoor Soccer League, five seasons in the Continental Indoor Soccer League, one season (1998) in the Premier Soccer Alliance, three seasons (1999-2001) in the World Indoor Soccer League, and two seasons (2002-04) in another version of the Major Indoor Soccer League. In addition to Dallas, the PASL announced a new team called the Harrisburg (PA) Heat will join the league for the 2012-13 season. A prior indoor team by the same name played ten seasons (1992-2001) in the defunct National Professional Soccer League and two seasons (2001-03) in a previous version of the Major Indoor Soccer League.
Canadian Soccer League: The CSL has started its 2012 outdoor season that will include a 16-team First Division and a 12-team Second Division. Of the 14 First Division teams from 2011, only the Ottawa-based Capital City FC did not return. Three Second Division teams called the Niagara United, SC Waterloo Region, and Kingston FC moved up to the First Division for 2012. SC Waterloo operated as KW United FC in 2012 and Kingston FC operated as Prospect FC in 2012.
Pacific Coast Soccer League: Both the men and women sides of the British Columbia-based PCSL have started their 2012 seasons. The men are split into a nine-team Premier Division and a seven-team Reserve Division, while the women are split into a twelve-team Premier Division and an eight-team Reserve Division. All teams are located in British Columbia except the new Bellingham United FC Hammers men's team, which brings the league back to the state of Washington for the first time since 2008.
United Soccer Leagues-Premier Development League: The PDL has started its 2012 season with a total of 73 teams in 9 divisions. The 17-team Western Conference has the Northwest Division and Southwest Division; the 14-team Southern Conference has the Mid South Division and the Southeast Division; the 27-team Eastern Conference has the Mid Atlantic Division, Northeast Division, and South Atlantic Division; and the 15-team Central Conference has the Great Lakes Division and Heartland Division. The PDL added 13 new teams called the Austin Aztex, Baltimore Bohemians, Boston Victory, CFC Azul (Hamden, CT), Chicago Inferno, FC Tucson, Ocala (FL) Stampede, Palmetto FC Bantams (Greenwood, SC), Panama City Beach (FL) Pirates, Texas Dutch Lions (Houston), Southern West Virginia King's Warriors (Beckley), VSI Tampa Flames, and Worcester (MA) Hydra.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The men's Portland Timbers team in Major League Soccer has stepped in to run the Portland Rain of the WPSL. The FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake MLS teams have partnerships with WPSL teams called the FC Dallas and Salt Lake United.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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.