Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
January 21, 2013 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL)
Pacific Association: The new Pacific Association has confirmed that the North American League ceased operations in November 2012 and that it will start play in 2013 with the four teams that comprised the NAL North Division in 2012. These include the Hawaii Stars, Na Koa Ikaika Maui, San Rafael (CA) Pacifics and Sonoma County (CA) Grapes. The Grapes were a travel team in 2012, but the new league is trying to find a permanent home for the team in 2013. The Pacific Association and the Freedom Pro Baseball League will jointly operate the 2013 Freedom Winter League in Phoenix during the months of February and March to evaluate prospective players for both of the summer leagues.
New York-Penn League: The borough of Phoenixville (PA) in the Philadelphia area is moving forward on a feasibility study for a minor league ballpark that could become home to an affiliated team in the short-season Class-A NY-Penn League or a team in an independent baseball league.
American Association: The Ventura Sports Group, which owns the Laredo Lemurs of the independent AA, recently lost out on a bid for the baseball stadium lease in Edinburg (TX) that could have led to a possible AA team in Edinburg. The Edinburg Roadrunners of the 2012 North American League's United Division fell behind on lease payments during the 2012 season, so the city put the baseball stadium lease up for bid after the season. The city recently voted to keep the Roadrunners as a tenant for its stadium. Along with Laredo, the AA has three other Texas-based teams called the Amarillo Sox, Grand Prairie AirHogs and El Paso Diablos that comprise the league's South Division. El Paso will become home to an affiliated Triple-A team in 2014, so the Diablos are expected to relocate or fold after the 2013 season.
American Basketball League: The new 12-team ABL started its inaugural 2013 season this weekend. The ABL plays under international FIBA rules and plans to develop players for various international basketball leagues. The Florida-based Tropics Conference has six teams called the Davie Stars (Miami), Emerald Coast Knights (Fort Walton), Fort Lauderdale Sharks, Heartland Eagles (Avon Park), Panama City Breeze and West Palm Beach Piranhas. The Texas-based Lone Star Conference has six teams called the Corpus Christi Clutch, Lone Star Law (San Antonio), South Texas Revolution (Laredo), Sugar Land Legends, Texas Surge (San Antonio) and Twin City United (Bryan/College Station).
American Basketball Association: The owner of the ABA's Jackson (MS) Showboats team plans to start a new 2013-14 ABA expansion team called the Monroe (LA) Magicians.
Women's United States Basketball Association: After failing to get off the ground the past three summers, it looks as though the WUSBA is going to make another attempt with 12 teams starting play in late May 2013. The proposed teams include the Atlanta Platinum, Charlotte Blue Wave, Columbia Breeze, Cincinnati Raging River, Birmingham Starz, Indianapolis Royal, Memphis River Hawks, Chicago Cagerz, New Orleans Privateers, Tampa Bay Galaxy, Pittsburgh Pzazz and Washington Congressional.
Canadian Football League: The group bringing the new CFL franchise to Ottawa for the 2014 season is said to be considering the Ottawa Red Blacks (RedBlacks or Red and Black) as a possible team name. A final decision on the team name is expected by the end or January or early February.
Indoor Football League: The owner of the Cheyenne (WY) Warriors recently passed away, so the IFL announced the team will not be part of its 2013 season as planned. The Warriors played their inaugural indoor season in 2012 as part of the American Professional Football League before joining the IFL for the 2013 season.
Professional Indoor Football League: The PIFL has announced it will operate its 2013 season with only seven teams, as the Charlotte Speed will not operate. The league had six teams in its inaugural 2012 season with plans to add the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Bethlehem, PA) from the 2012 Indoor Football League and the Charlotte Speed, which was originally announced as 2013 IFL expansion team.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The QMJHL has announced it will not comment on speculation that one of its current teams will be moving to a new arena being built in the city of Trois-Rivieres.
North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL is apparently trying to establish itself in the East by offering membership to some of the Tier-III Eastern Junior Hockey League teams that have not yet joined the proposed new junior-level United States Premier Hockey League. Some teams from the Tier-III Atlantic Junior Hockey League could also join the NAHL. USA Hockey, the country's governing body for ice hockey, has approved the request by the NAHL's Wenatchee (WA) Wild to move to Canada's junior-A British Columbia Hockey League. The BCHL also agreed to accept the Wild, so if Hockey Canada signs off on the move, the team is expected to be part of that league in 2013-14.
North American 3 Hockey League: The NA3HL, the Tier-III junior affiliate of the Tier-II North American Hockey League, is looking at the Michigan markets of Alpena, Traverse City, and St. Ignace for possible new teams. Traverse City and Alpena had previous Tier-II teams in the NAHL. The NA3HL currently has four Michigan-based teams.
North American Soccer League: The men's Division-II NASL announced a new team based in Indianapolis will start play in the 2014 season. The team is negotiating to play on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis with long-term plans for a new downtown soccer stadium. The group that will bring a new NASL team to Ottawa in 2014 was reported to have registered the Ottawa Fury FC as the team's name. The group currently operates the Ottawa Fury soccer organization, which has a men's team and a women's team under that name in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League and W-League, respectively. The men's PDL team could serve as a feeder to the NASL team. A final announcement on the Ottawa team name is expected in the near future. The league's expansion New York Cosmos team, which plans to start play in the 2013 Fall Season, announced plans for a new 25,000-seat soccer stadium to be built in Elmont (Nassau County, Long Island). The Cosmos ownership apparently has long-range plans to eventually join the Division I Major League Soccer as a second MLS team in the New York City area. The MLS has been working on its own proposed new stadium deal in Queens for a possible second New York City franchise.
United Soccer Leagues - Premier Development League: The PDL has announced its schedule and league alignment for the upcoming 2013 season that will feature 65 teams. The Eastern Conference will have three divisions and the Central, Southern and Western conferences will each have two divisions. The league has added four new teams called the New York Magic-FA Euro, Real Boston Rams, Southwest Florida Adrenaline and Oklahoma City. Several teams underwent name changes for 2013: the IMG Bradenton Academics to the IMG Academy Bradenton, the Hamilton FC Rage to the K-W United FC, the New Jersey Rangers to the New Jersey LUSO Rangers FC, the Palmetto FC Bantams to the South Carolina United Bantams, and the VSI Tampa Flames to VSI Tampa Bay FC.
United Soccer Leagues - W-League: The Bay Area Breeze women's soccer team, which played the past two seasons in the Women's Premier Soccer League, will join the Western Conference of the W-League for the 2013 season.
Major League Lacrosse: The outdoor (field lacrosse) MLL has announced its schedule for its upcoming 2013 season that will run from April 27 to August 10. The league will have the same eight teams as last season: the Boston Cannons, Charlotte Hounds, Chesapeake Bayhawks (Annapolis), Denver Outlaws,
Hamilton (Ontario) Nationals, New York Lizards, Ohio Machine (Columbus) and Rochester Rattlers. The only change was the Long Island Lizards switching its name to the New York Lizards for 2013. The league also announced the Rochester Rattlers will play one regular-season home game versus the Boston Cannons in the Atlanta area (Kennesaw State University) during the 2013 season. The game will serve as a test game for possible MLL expansion into the Atlanta market.
Major League Ultimate: The proposed new MLU professional Ultimate Frisbee league has decided to drop two of its proposed ten teams for the inaugural 2013 season that starts in April. With new teams already located in Philadelphia and New York, the MLU decided to drop the New Jersey Founders team from the Eastern Division. The league decided to operate with only the San Francisco Dogfish team in the Bay Area and dropped the San Jose Black Hats team from the Western Division for 2013.
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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