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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
May 20, 2013 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

Southern League: The city of Biloxi has moved forward with a plan to borrow funds for a proposed new ballpark that could become home to a minor league team, most likely in the Double-A Southern League. A sports group has been trying to build a ballpark in the Biloxi area since 2004. The league's Huntsville Stars and Jackson (TN) Generals teams have been mentioned as relocation candidates in the past.

South Atlantic League (SALLY): The results of a recent study for a proposed ballpark in Fredericksburg (VA) were favorable and the city could move forward with plans to build a new ballpark to attract a low Class-A SALLY team. The league's Hagerstown (MD) Suns have been mentioned as a potential candidate for a move to Fredericksburg, if a new ballpark is built.

Frontier League: The 14-team independent Frontier League has started its 2013 season with one team change. Last season's Road Warriors travel team, which was a late-season replacement for the folded London (Ontario) Rippers team, will operate as the Frontier Greys travel team during the 2013 season.

American Association: The 13-team independent AA has started its 2013 with the same teams and league alignment as last season. This includes a five-team Central Division, a four-team North Division and a four-team South Division.

Can-Am League: The independent Can-Am League has started its 2013 season and again has five teams. The Quebec Capitales, Newark Bears, Rockland Boulders (Ramapo, NY), and New Jersey Jackals all returned from last season, but the new Trois-Rivieres (Quebec) Aigles, or Eagles, replaced the Worcester Tornadoes team, whose ownership was terminated by the league near the end of the 2012 season. The Can-Am teams play an interlocking scheduling with teams from the American Association.

Mountain Collegiate Baseball League: The Fort Collins Foxes will not be affiliated with the MCBL in 2013 and will play an independent schedule.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association: The NBA owners voted 22 to 8 to keep the Sacramento Kings from relocating to Seattle. The current owner of the Kings had worked out a potential sale to a Seattle group that planned to move the franchise by next season and eventually move into a proposed new Seattle arena. The mayor of Sacramento came up with a new arena plan and a potential buyer willing to keep the team in Sacramento. A sale of the Kings to the new local buyer still needs to be worked out. The Kings' owner tried to move the team to Anaheim prior to the 2011-12 season.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new Boston area team called the North Shore Tides has been added to the list of 2013-14 expansion teams. Other new teams called the Utah Avalanche (Salt Lake City), New York Lightning and South Coast Fire (Jacksonville, FL) have recently appeared on the league's team listing. FOOTBALL

Stars Football League: The outdoor SFL plans to start its 2013 spring-summer schedule next month with five Florida-based teams and recently announced it will add a sixth Florida-based team in 2014. Markets being considered include Jacksonville, Naples-Fort Myers, Deland, Tampa and Orlando.

Continental Indoor Football League: A new professional indoor football team called the Bluegrass Warhorses, based in Lexington (KY), is trying to join the CIFL for its 2014 season. The league had three Kentucky-based teams during the 2013 season called the Kentucky Xtreme (Louisville), Kentucky Drillers (Pikeville) and the Owensboro Rage, which dropped out during the season. Another new team called the Illinois Hawks was looking for a home arena in an attempt to join the CIFL.

Professional Development Football League: The PDFL has started its six-week inaugural outdoor season with four teams called the Boise Bandits, Portland (OR) Boltz, Utah Argos and Sea-Tac Cobras (Seattle/Tacoma). The league originally planned to start with 12 teams split into American and National conferences, but the other proposed teams are listed as starting in 2014. Some of these other proposed teams include the New Mexico Outlawz, Spokane Silverbacks, Georgia Invaders, Miami Xtreme, Palm Beach Crush, North Carolina Bison and Virginia Colonials.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL's Connecticut Whale has officially announced its name change to the Hartford Wolf Pack starting next season. The Hartford team joined the AHL for the 1997-98 season when the Binghamton Rangers relocated to become the Hartford Wolf Pack. The Wolf Pack changed its name to the Connecticut Whale during the 2010-11 season. The National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks announced they will not operate their AHL affiliate in the city, so the Peoria Rivermen will not be part of the AHL next season. The Peoria Rivermen played in the AHL for eight seasons (2005-13). Prior to that, the Peoria Rivermen spent 9 seasons (1996-2005) in the ECHL and 12 seasons (1984-96) in the Triple-A International Hockey League. The Canucks were granted a 30-day extension from the AHL to decide where, or if, they intend to operate an affiliate next season. There was an effort to form a team called the Peoria Rivermen that would play in the 2013-14 season of the class-A Southern Professional Hockey League.

Southern Professional Hockey League: With the Peoria Rivermen not returning to the American Hockey League next season, executives from the Bloomington (IL) Blaze of the Central Hockey League have created a new ownership group that will bring that team and a new team called the Peoria Rivermen to the class-A level SPHL for the 2013-14 season. The Blaze had struggled with ownership issues during the 2012-13 season. The SPHL also announced its Augusta (GA) RiverHawks franchise will sit out the 2013-14 season due to issues with the ice system at its home arena. The RiverHawks had been part of the league for three seasons (2010-13) and hope to return in the future. The SPHL had nine teams last season, so with the loss of Augusta and the addition of Bloomington and Peoria, the league has increased to ten teams for next season.

North American Hockey League: The Wenatchee (WA) Wild of the Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced plans to move to Hidalgo (TX) where the team will be called the Rio Grande Killer Bees starting with the 2013-14 season. The team takes the name of a professional Central Hockey League team that folded after the 2011-12 season. The NAHL has teams in three other former Texas-based CHL markets-Amarillo, Corpus Christi and Odessa. The Wild did not agree with the arena lease terms in Wenatchee and decided to move. The owner of the Wild had been trying to move the team to the Canadian Tier-II junior-level British Columbia Hockey League for next season, but those plans appear to be dead.

Midwest Junior Hockey League: A new team called the Marquette (MI) Royales will join the MWJHL for the 2013-14 season. A team called the Marquette Rangers previously played four seasons (2006-10) as part of the Tier-II junior-level North American Hockey League. The MWJHL is a member of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and recently completed its inaugural season.

SOCCER

United Soccer Leagues - Major Indoor Soccer League: A new team called the St. Louis Ambush is reported to be trying to start play in the 2013-14 MISL season. An indoor team by the same name played eight seasons (1992-2000) in the defunct National Professional Soccer League. The MISL had seven teams last season, but the Wichita Wings were put up for sale and their status, along with that of the Chicago Soul team, is uncertain for next season.

National Premier Soccer League: The new commissioner of the fourth-division NPSL, which is affiliated with the Women's Premier Soccer League, would like to add a Northwest Conference of teams in the future. That is one region of the country that does not have any current NPSL teams.

OTHER

USA Rugby League: The New Haven Warriors and Oneida FC (Boston) teams will not be part of the 2013 USARL schedule, so the league will have only six returning teams aligned in one table. The league had planned to split its eight teams into four-team Freedom and Liberty conferences prior to the loss of these two teams. The six teams for 2013 will include the Baltimore Blues, Boston Thirteens, Jacksonville Axemen, Philadelphia Fight, Rhode Island Rebellion (Providence) and Washington DC Slayers.

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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American Hockey League Stories from May 20, 2013


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.