Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 30, 2009 - USL First Division (USL-1)

BASEBALL

American Association: The independent American Association has announced its 2010 schedule that will include the same ten teams as the 2009 season. The American Association got its start back in 2006 when four teams left the Northern League and created the league with several teams from the former Central Baseball League.

American League: The ownership of the American League\'s Oakland Athletics has concluded that the best opportunity for the team to build a new ballpark would be in downtown San Jose. The city of San Jose has reportedly purchased land that could become home to a 32,000-seat downtown ballpark. The National League\'s San Francisco Giants hold territorial rights to the San Jose market, so the Giants would have to waive its rights to the area before a move to San Jose could happen.

Pacific Coast League: The 2010 season will be the final season for the Omaha Royals of the Triple-A PCL at its current stadium, which is also home to the College World Series. The Royals will move into a new 6,000-seat ballpark in suburban Sarpy County for the 2011 season. The Royals did not want to share a new 24,000-seat downtown stadium being built specifically for the College World Series. That stadium also plans to open for the 2011 season. There had been talk of an independent baseball team possibly making its home at the downtown stadium while the College World Series is not in progress.

Desert League: The proposed new Desert League plans to start play in September 2010 as an independent professional baseball league based on the West Coast. A tryout camp is planned for late August 2010.

BASKETBALL

Women\'s National Basketball Association: The WNBA is still trying to work out a deal with new investors in the Bay Area to take over the Sacramento Monarchs franchise rather than having it fold and disperse its players. If a deal cannot be worked out for 2010, a Bay Area expansion team could possibly join in 2011. The league\'s Houston Comets folded prior to the 2009 season and the Detroit Shock announced a move to Tulsa just after the recently completed 2009 season. Houston and Sacramento were first-year WNBA teams back in 1997, while Detroit joined in the league\'s second season of 1998. Meanwhile, the ownership of the WNBA Tulsa franchise has listed three finalists as possible team nicknames-the Tulsa Shock, Tulsa Fire, and Tulsa Tempo.

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA D-League has started its 2009-10 season with 16 teams split into a seven-team Eastern Conference and a nine-team Western Conference. The league lost the Colorado 14ers from last season, but added a new team called the Maine Red Claws based in Portland. The Anaheim Arsenal relocated and became the Springfield (MA) Armor for 2009-10. The Colorado 14ers franchise plans to move to Frisco (TX) and will be renamed for next season.

3BA: The 3BA plans to franchise the 3-on-3 full-court basketball concept into an international professional league. The 3BA has played exhibition schedules over the past couple of years. Instead of a 94-foot court and a 24-second shot clock, the 3BA game features a 72-foot court and an 18-second shot clock. The 3BA plans to launch world operations in 2010 and build teams across the world. A 2010 season would start in middle to late summer with teams playing a 20-game schedule worldwide. A league map features 32 proposed markets in the United States that would be part of four eight-team conferences. One investor has reportedly purchased the rights to a Portland (OR) 3BA franchise.

Universal Basketball Association: The UBA, formerly the United Regions Basketball League, now has a San Antonio-based team called River City that is holding tryouts for the upcoming 2010 season. The UBA also plans to add six teams from Uruguay\'s Saltean Basketball League for the 2011 season.

Texas Professional Basketball League: The TPBL has announced the schedule for the first week of its 2010 season that will start January 8. The participating teams include the Abilene Heat, Brownwood Brigaide, Houston P.T.S. Rebels, Katy Synergy, Metro Miracles (Dallas/FW area), San Angelo Chaparrals, Texas Hurricanes (Dallas), The Woodlands Panthers (Spring), and West Texas Storm (Big Spring).

FOOTBALL

Arena Football 1: The Fresno-based Central Valley Coyotes team is no longer listed as part of the AF1, so the league currently has only 13 markets for its inaugural 2010 season. There was no official word as to what league the Coyotes might join. The Coyotes were part of arenafootball2 for six seasons (2004-09).

Continental Indoor Football League: The ownership of the Milwaukee Bonecrushers franchise in the CIFL has apparently moved the team to the Chicago area, where it will be called the Chicago Cardinals or Chicagoland Cardinals for the 2010 season. The team could play in Villa Park (IL). The Bonecrushers joined the CIFL as an expansion team for the 2008 season.

Southern Indoor Football League: The SIFL\'s Texas Hurricanes franchise, which is moving from College Station to Beaumont for the 2010 season, will allow fans to vote on a new team nickname or keep the Hurricanes nickname. Other possible new names include Marshals, Energy, Renegades, Outlaw, Enforcers, Bandits, Power, or Rattlers. Beaumont had been home to the Beaumont Drillers for five seasons (2003-07) in the defunct National Indoor Football League and one season (2008) in the American Professional Football League. The "Drillers" nickname is not up for consideration. The SIFL\'s proposed new Houma (LA) franchise that was to replace the departed Houma Conquerors from last season is no longer listed on the 2010 team list.

American Professional Football League: The Iowa Blackhawks in the semi-pro indoor APFL are currently up for sale. The team is based in Council Bluffs across from the river from Omaha (NE).

United Football League: For its second season in 2010, the UFL plans to add two more teams and extend the length of its regular season. The league wants to concentrate on "non-NFL" markets in the future after its New York and San Francisco teams suffered from poor attendance. The New York team could be moved to Hartford (CT) and San Francisco could move to Sacramento. The league wants to add a Texas team next season in either Austin or San Antonio. The other new 2010 franchise would be in Salt Lake City, Omaha, or Portland (OR). The UFL will hold off on a team in Los Angeles because of growing interest in a return of the National Football League to the area.

National Football League: The NFL\'s Minnesota Vikings are still working to get a new football stadium built in the Twin Cities, but this would require state funding that might not be available. The Vikings, along with the San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, are rumored to be candidates for relocation to a proposed new Los Angeles stadium.

HOCKEY

International Hockey League: The IHL has apparently stepped in to provide financial assistance to its new Dayton Gems franchise. The league has stated the Dayton Gems will continue playing, but it is uncertain if the team will change ownership or possibly be folded by the league.

North Eastern Professional Hockey League: The NEPHL\'s franchise based in East Haven (CT) that was originally known as the Connecticut C-Men is now called the Connecticut C-Dogs.

Western Hockey League: Although the city of Victoria (British Columbia) has the Victoria Salmon Kings franchise in the ECHL, the city would still like to have a major-junior franchise in the WHL. The city has been without a WHL team since the Victoria Cougars moved to Prince George in 1994. Victoria had been seeking a major junior-level team in the WHL for a new arena being built back in 2003, but the WHL its 20th and last expansion team would be placed in Everett (WA) for 2003-04. The Victoria group then made a switch to join the ECHL for the 2004-05 season.

SOCCER

North American Soccer League: The group of teams under the Team Owners Association, which broke away from the United Soccer Leagues First Division, has formed a new second-division professional soccer league called the North American Soccer League. The new NASL plans to start play in 2010 and currently is comprised of nine teams-the Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Crystal Palace Baltimore, Miami FC Blues, Minnesota Thunder, Montreal Impact, St. Louis Soccer United, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and Vancouver Whitecaps. The league name comes from the former NASL that operated in the United States and Canada from 1968 to 1984.

United Soccer Leagues: Due to outstanding debts owed to the USL and others, the USL decided to terminate all three Minnesota USL franchises-the Minnesota Thunder in the First Division, the Rochester Thunder in the Premier Development League, and the Minnesota Lightning women\'s team in the W-League. The USL is still interested in placing a new First Division team in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area under new ownership. One of the part-owners of the PDL Thunder is expected to form a new Minnesota PDL team for the 2010 season. The Charleston (SC) Battery, which has been part of the USL since 1993 and part of the USL\'s First Division leagues since 1997, has announced it will step down to play in the USL Second Division in 2010.

Major League Soccer: The MLS held its expansion draft for its 16th team called the Philadelphia Union. The new club will start play in 2010 in the league\'s Eastern Conference, giving the league two eight-team conferences. The league has confirmed it is making progress on the possibility of adding a Montreal team in 2012. The new Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers expansion teams will be added to the league in 2011.

Ultimate Soccer League: The semi-pro USL has started its 2009-10 winter indoor season with seven teams-the Chicago Storm, Cruz Azul Chicago, Deportivo Indiana Gladiadores, Grand FC Mustangs, Indianapolis FC, Lake County Tsunami, and Rockford Victory.

Dan Krieger is the creator of "Leagues, Teams & Nicknames", which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today\'s sports world. The latest 2008-09 version can be found at http://www.lulu.com/content/6218580. Dan can be contacted at dankrieger@leaguesteamsnicknames.com.

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