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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 22, 2013 - International Basketball League (IBL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic Baseball League: The eight-team independent ABL has started its 2013 season with the same teams and alignment as last season. The Freedom Division has the Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers, Somerset (NJ) Patriots, Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters and York (PA) Revolution, while the Liberty Division includes the Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish, Long Island (NY) Ducks, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Waldorf) and Camden (NJ) Riversharks. The ABL recently expressed interest in placing its second Texas-based team in Fort Worth, which is currently home to the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League Baseball.

United League Baseball: The city of Alexandria (LA) has come to an agreement with the ULB to place a team in the city for the upcoming 2013 season. The team will be called the Alexandria Aces and will play at the city's Bringhurst Field, which will eventually need some renovations. The field has been home to a summer-collegiate team called the Alexandria Aces for the past three seasons (2010-12) in the Texas Collegiate Baseball League. Independent professional teams called the Alexandria Aces were part of four different leagues, including the ULB, since 1994: the Texas-Louisiana League (1994-2001), Central Baseball League (2002-03), the ULB (2006-08) and the Continental Baseball League in 2009. Alexandria would become the sixth team in the league and the only ULB team not based in Texas.

Eastern League: Working out a deal to relocate a Double-A Eastern League team to Ottawa (Ontario) has dragged on so long that a move in time for the 2014 season is doubtful.

American West Baseball League: The head of the proposed new independent AWBL wants to add a fourth team called the Bisbee (AZ) Copper Kings to go with the league's three other teams called the Fullerton (CA) Flyers, Las Cruces (NM) Sun Rays and Nogales (AZ) Desert Ghosts. A team called the Bisbee-Douglas Copper Kings was part of the short-lived independent Arizona-Mexico League in 2003.

New York-Penn League: The West Virginia state legislature has passed a tax increment financing (TIF) bill that would help build a new ballpark in Morgantown for West Virginia University. The ballpark is also expected to become home to a team in the short-season Class-A NY-Penn League team.

Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League is considering further expansion and Bismarck (ND) and Elkhart (IN) have been mentioned as possibilities in the future. The league plans to add a team in Kenosha (WI) in 2014 and possibly Kalamazoo (MI). The 16-team league wants to grow to 20 teams.

BASKETBALL

International Basketball League: The IBL has started its 2013 spring-summer season with five full-schedule teams in a Continental Conference and five partial-schedule, or "branding" teams, in an International Conference. In the Continental Conference the Bellingham Slam, Japan Nippon Tornadoes, Portland (OR) Chinooks and Vancouver (WA) Volcanoes return from last year, while the Salem (OR) Sabres replace last season's Salem Soldiers. The International Conference includes the Olympia (WA) Reign, which was a full-schedule team in 2012, plus four new IBL teams called the East Bay Pit Bulls (Bay Area), Kitsap Admirals (Bremerton, WA), LoneStar Strikers (Houston area) and Seattle Flight. Salem, East Bay, and Kitsap played in the fall-winter season of the American Basketball Association, while Lone Star played in the fall-winter season of the Universal Basketball Association.

World Basketball Association Exposure League: The WBA has posted the schedules for the six teams that will be playing in 2013. These are the same six teams as last season and include the Atlanta Blaze,

Conyers (GA) Court Kings, Gastonia (NC) Gamers, Gwinnett (GA) Majic, Rome (GA) Gladiators and

Upstate Heat (Anderson, SC). Each team plays ten games from early June to late July.

Beautiful Ballers League: The new BBL, a national pro fantasy women's basketball league sponsored by Reebok, has announced the eight teams that will be part of its inaugural season starting in June 2013. The Eastern Conference will include the Atlanta Peaches, Brookyn Diamondz, Miami Storm and Orlando Lady Cats. The Western Conference will have the Birmingham Belles, Los Angeles Dolls, Minnesota Mist and New Orleans Spirit. The Miami team has changed from the Miami Tropics, the Miami Suns and the South Florida Sunz to the Miami Storm. The Minnesota Mist, Atlanta Peaches and Orlando Lady Cats were previously associated with the proposed new Bikini Basketball Association.

Bikini Basketball Association: The proposed new BBA has announced its 2013 schedule that will have each of its five teams playing eight games from June 22 to August 24. Teams include the Houston Inferno, Illinois Heart (Chicago), Las Vegas Fantasy, Miami Spice and Philadelphia Diamonds.

Women's United States Basketball Association: The proposed WUSBA has been trying to get off the ground over the past couple of years and now plans to start play with 12 teams on June 1, 2013. The league announced 14 teams last month, but teams called the Memphis River Hawks and the Cincinnati Raging River had to be dropped due to home venue problems.

FOOTBALL

Continental Indoor Football League: The CIFL announced it has suspended the operations of its Owensboro (KY) Rage franchise for the remainder of the season. The Rage had a 5-3 record. The team played as the Evansville (IN) Rage in 2012 before moving to Owensboro for the 2013 season. The CIFL was forced to drop another team called the Kane County (IL) Dawgs earlier in the season.

Xtreme Indoor Football League: The proposed new XIFL has been announced as a new developmental (semi-pro) league that plans to play its schedule from early September 2013 to late January 2014. The league currently has 16 California-based teams listed in eight-team Coastal and Inland conferences.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild will be moving its Houston Aeros AHL affiliate to Des Moines (IA) as the Iowa Wild for the 2013-14 season. Des Moines had been home to the Dallas Stars' AHL affiliate called the Iowa Stars for three seasons (2005-08) and the Anaheim Ducks' AHL affiliate called the Iowa Chops for one season (2009-09). The Wild had tried to place its AHL affiliate in Des Moines when its new arena opened back in 2005. The AHL also approved the sale of the Peoria Rivermen franchise to the Vancouver Canucks, but it is still uncertain where the AHL team will play next season.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The owners of the Prince Edward Island Rocket of the QMJHL have received an offer to buy the franchise from an interested buyer who reportedly wants to move the team to Sorel-Tracy (Quebec), about 50 miles northeast of Montreal. The buyer attempted to purchase the league's Bathurst Titan team about three weeks ago, but local investors stepped in to keep the team in Bathurst. Back in September 2012, the Rocket announced plans to change the team's nickname to the P.E.I. Islanders starting with the 2013-14 season. Plans to announce the new team logo and colors next week have been put on hold.

ECHL: The ECHL has expressed interest in placing a team in Peoria (IL), but the deadline for the 2013-14 season has past. The National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks recently purchased the Peoria Rivermen franchise in the American Hockey League with plans to move it closer to home. The Canucks could keep its AHL team in Peoria for the 2013-14 season until it finalizes a relocation plan for the team.

North American Hockey League: The Wenatchee (WA) Wild, which will be moving from the Tier-II junior-level NAHL to Canada's junior-A British Columbia Hockey League for the 2013-14 season, is having lease issues with local arena operators. Arena officials are reported to be soliciting teams from other hockey leagues for use of the arena.

SOCCER

Professional Arena Soccer League: The group that owns the Laredo Rattlesnakes indoor football team in the Lone Star Football League announced plans to add a Laredo-based PASL team for the 2013-14 season. A name-the-team contest has been started. The league has other Texas-based teams called the Dallas Sidekicks (Allen), Texas Strikers (Beaumont) and Rio Grande Valley Flash (Hidalgo).

United Soccer Leagues - PRO: The Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer plan to eventually have an affiliated team in the Division III USL PRO league rather than its current MLS Reserve League team. Several current MLS teams have affiliated USL PRO league teams instead of operating a team in the MLS Reserve League. The Sounders are considering Tacoma as an eventual home for an affiliated USL PRO team. A Sounders Reserves game against the USL PRO's Orlando City Lions in May has been moved to Tacoma to test the market.

Women's Premier Soccer League: The Birmingham United Soccer Association plans to place a team called the Alabama FC in the Southeast Division of the 2013 WPSL. The league's Sacramento-based California Storm, which has been part of the league since its inception in 1998, plans to make suburban Elk Grove its home. The club plans to have a professional women's team within the next two years and hopes to play in a proposed new Elk Grove stadium that is being built for a possible Major League Soccer team. The California Storm will operate separate California Storm Silver and California Storm Gold teams in the 2013 WPSL season.

OTHER

Major League Ultimate: The new MLU professional Ultimate Frisbee league has started its inaugural 2013 season with eight teams. The Eastern Conference includes teams called the Boston Whitecaps, D.C. Current, New York Rumble and Philadelphia Spinners, while the Western Conference has the Portland Stags, San Francisco Dogfish, Seattle Rainmakers and Vancouver Nighthawks. The owner of the MLU's Philadelphia Spinners left the competing American Ultimate Disc League after that league's inaugural 2012 season to form the MLU. The Boston team was originally announced as the Boston Bootleggers. Two other teams called the San Jose Black Hats in the Western Conference and the New Jersey Founders in the Eastern Conference were announced, but later dropped for the 2013 season.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the "The Leagueology Almanac 2011-12", which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is currently available at www.amazon.com.

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