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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 7, 2008 - Texas League (TL)

BASEBALL

• Southern League: The group that owns the Southern League's Mississippi Braves in the Jackson area has reached an agreement with the city of D'lberville (MS) in the Biloxi area to build a new ballpark. The league's West Tenn Diamond Jaxx and Huntsville Stars could be possible relocation candidates, if the project moves forward. The town of D'lberville is only about 35 miles west of the Mississippi-Alabama border and close to the territory of the league's Mobile BayBears.

• International League: The Triple-A International League is preparing to start its 2008 season without an "international" team. The league's Canadian-based Ottawa Lynx team will start play in Allentown (PA) as the Lehigh IronPigs, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Lehigh Valley will take Ottawa's spot in the league's North Division.

• Texas League: The Double-A Texas League's former Wichita Wranglers start play in 2008 as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, based in Springdale. This new market also includes the nearby cities of Bentonville, Fayetteville and Rogers. The league has experienced changes to half of its eight franchises in the past few years. For the 2005 season, the El Paso Diablos became the Springfield (MO) Cardinals, while the Round Rock Express moved up to Triple-A and the Texas League team became the Corpus Christi Hooks. Round Rock had joined the Texas League in 2000 when the former Jackson Generals moved to the Austin area. For the 2003 season, the Shreveport Swamp Dragons moved to the Dallas area as the Frisco Roughriders.

BASKETBALL

• International Basketball League: The new Vancouver (British Columbia) franchise that will join the IBL in 2009 has selected the Vancouver Titans as its team name. The league currently has a team in Vancouver (WA) called the Vancouver Volcanoes.

• West Coast Basketball League: The WCBL plans to have eight teams playing in its inaugural 2008 season, along with several participating teams from the American Basketball Association. The league's charter team, the Santa Barbara Breakers, was scheduled to play a WCBL game against the ABA's Orange County Gladiators this past week. The Breakers' 13-game home schedule runs through mid-June and includes games against teams called the Carlsbad Beachdawgs, High Desert Rattlers, Hollywood Shooting Stars, Newport Beach Surf, Pasadena Slam and Ventura Jets.

• United Basketball League: Based on schedules posted by several UBL teams, it looks like the league will start its inaugural 2008 season with eight teams. The Arkansas Warriors, Dallas Outlaws (Mesquite), North Missouri Hawks (Tarkio) and Oklahoma OnPoint Hoops (Oklahoma City) are part of a Northern Division, while the San Antonio Soul, San Marcos Knights, Central Texas Stars (Temple) and Texas Wranglers (Dallas) are listed in the Southern Division. The schedule runs from early April to mid-July.

• Premier Basketball League: One of the PBL owners stated that based on the success of the inaugural season, the league has received over 20 applications for next season. The league wants to grow slowly and only four to six new teams will be part of the 2008-09 season. There have been rumors of several American Basketball Association teams leaving for the PBL and rumors of a possible merger of the PBL with the Continental Basketball Association.

• Women's National Basketball Association: A group of investors is trying to bring a WNBA franchise to Toronto, possibly by next season.

• American Basketball Association: The ABA announced it would return to South Chicago with a franchise next season. A team called the South Chi-Land Infernos was announced for 2007-08, but never played a game. The ABA's Chicago Throwbacks left the league for the Premier Basketball League early in the 2007-08 season and the Chicago-based Cicero Cometas USA dropped from the league after playing only a few games on its 2007-08 schedule. The Bahama Pro Show franchise plans to return to the ABA for the 2008-09 season.

FOOTBALL

• American Professional Football League: The semi-pro indoor APFL has created a developmental league called the American Developmental Football League that plans to start play in the summer of 2008. The ADFL has four Kansas-based teams listed-Emporia Knights, Lawrence Larrys, Manhattan Mad Dogs and Wichita Aviators.

• Independent Indoor Football Alliance: The San Antonio-based Texas Rough Riders team, which evolved from the San Antonio Steers of the National Indoor Football League, has apparently left the new Texas-based IIFA to join the American Professional Football League. The Harris County Militia team is no longer listed as one of the 2008 IIFA teams.

• World Football League: United Football Teams of America (UFTA) plans to start a new minor professional football league this summer called the World Football League. The UFTA states that the folding of the NFL Europa and the delay in starting the All American Football League is responsible for the start of the WFL. The league has ten teams-Arkansas WarCats, Austin Gamebreakers, Dallas Diesel, Dixie Heat (Utah), Louisiana Lightning, Oklahoma Thunder, San Antonio Warriors, Southeast Texas Demons, Texarkana Warriors and Texas Bulldogs-listed with ten-game schedules running from the end of May to early August 2008. The league plans to eventually operate nationwide.

HOCKEY

• North American Hockey League: The Fargo-Moorhead Jets of the Junior-A Tier II NAHL are officially leaving Fargo and will not be renewing its arena lease for next season. An expansion team called the Fargo Force will start play next season as part of the Junior-A Tier I United States Hockey League in the 2008-09 season. The NAHL Fargo (ND)-Moorhead (MN) franchise started play back in the 2003-04 season.

• American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's Anaheim Ducks are not expected to renew its affiliation agreement with the Portland (ME) Pirates. The NHL's Buffalo Sabres could move its affiliation from the Rochester Americans to Portland, possibly leaving Rochester without an NHL affiliation next season.

• Major League Roller Hockey: Nothing has been heard about the MLRH's proposed professional league that was supposed to start play in April 2008 with eight to ten teams in major markets. The MLRH last played at the full professional level in 1998.

SOCCER

• United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League: The Real Colorado soccer club, which currently operates the Real Colorado Cougars in the USL W-League, plans to add a PDL men's club called the Real Colorado Foxes. The Foxes will play some exhibition games in 2008 and begin a full schedule in 2009. The Denver area club's nickname comes from the Colorado Foxes team of the 1990s that played in the former A-League, which evolved into the USL First Division.

• Major Soccer League: Although a group in Montreal says it can be ready to host an MLS expansion team by 2009, the league does not have expansion plans beyond adding Seattle next season and Philadelphia in 2010. The league says that several markets like St. Louis, Atlanta, Miami, Vancouver, Montreal and New York are under consideration for the next round of expansion. St. Louis is the only one to have funding in place for a soccer-specific stadium, while Atlanta and New York feature strong ownership groups. There is currently no front-runner for another expansion franchise.

• Premier Arena Soccer League: The owner of the Stockton-based California Cougars in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) has paid a deposit on a franchise in the new professional division of the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL), which plans to start play in the fall of this year. The MISL franchise is at the end of a three-year lease and the owner wants to move the team to the PASL as the Stockton Cougars. The PASL, which is the official development league of the MISL, hopes to have 16 pro division franchises signed up by mid-May. Some of the potential locations include Colorado Springs (CO), Fort Collins (CO), Albany (NY), Wenatchee (WA), Prescott (AZ), Dallas, St. Louis and Houston. The league hopes to add more teams in California. Plans also call for a new six-team league in Mexico with its champion playing the PASL champion at the end of the season. The PASL currently operates its amateur indoor division with over 50 teams. One of those teams is the Stockton Pumas, the official developmental affiliate of the MISL California Cougars.

• Women's Professional Soccer: The WPS Chicago franchise has eliminated the name Chicago Stinking Onions from its list of ten proposed team names, based on fan voting. The Potawatami word "Checagou" (Chicago) means stinking onion and inspired this nickname. The franchise will continue to eliminate nicknames from the six remaining names on the list as it prepares for the league's inaugural season in 2009.

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 version can be found at http://www.lulu.com/content/1375144. Dan can be contacted at dankrieger@leaguesteamsnicknames.com.


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Texas League Stories from April 7, 2008


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