Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
March 16, 2009 - International Basketball League (IBL)
United League Baseball: The ULB's original founders, who still had a financial interest in the league, apparently outbid the Continental Baseball League (CBL) in a purchase of the league and its franchises from bankruptcy court. A final decision will not be made until later this month, but the Amarillo Dillas, Edinburg Coyotes, Laredo Broncos and San Angelo Colts could still end up playing in 2009 as part of the ULB. The purchase would also include the proposed Brownsville ULB franchise that is expected to begin play sometime in the future. Two other ULB teams, the Harlingen WhiteWings and Alexandria Aces, could also be part of the deal, but the Alexandria franchise had already been sold and a new version of the team with the same nickname moved to the CBL.
Continental Baseball League: Plans by the CBL to add four former United League Baseball franchises for the 2009 season may have fallen through. The CBL now has only four clubs listed-the new Dallas Aviators and Alexandria Aces, along with the returning Bay Area Toros and Texarkana Gunslingers. The plans to have six teams in 2009 and will announce the two additional teams, one of which could be a travel team, by March 20.
Florida Winter Baseball League: The independent FWBL is a new professional winter baseball league that plans to start play in October 2009. The league will start with four clubs in Cocoa, Seminole County (Sanford), Miami (Florida International University) and Lake County (Leesburg).
Eastern League: The new owners of the Norwich-based Connecticut Defenders in the Double-A Eastern League are expected to take over the team's lease next week as they prepare to move the team to Richmond (VA), possibly for the 2010 season. The lease runs through 2012, but the owners can leave with payment of a termination fee. With the departure of the Defenders, Norwich appears to be under consideration for a relocated Class-A New York Penn League franchise, possibly the Jamestown (NY) Jammers.
International Basketball League: The IBL has posted its 2009 schedule that will feature 16 full-schedule teams, down from 18 teams in 2008. Eight teams are gone from last season: the Edmonton Chill, Battle Creek Knights, Elkhart Express, Las Vegas Stars, Portland Chinooks, Elgin Racers, Gary Steelheads and Jazz of Tacoma. Six other teams have been added: the Portland Oregon Waves/Oregon Wave, Nippon Tornadoes (Japan), Vancouver (British Columbia) Titans, Edmonton Energy, Tacoma Tide and the returning Seattle Mountaineers. The league has six other "IBL United" teams playing partial schedules in 2009-the Las Vegas Pride, Arizona Flame, Phoenix Red Rock Raptors, Southern Illinois Truth, Yamhill (OR) Flyers and Olympia (WA) Reign.
American Basketball Association: Although it is not listed as one of the ABA's 2009-10 expansion teams, a previously announced expansion team in College Park (GA) is referred to as the College Park Spyders. The league's Washington Raptors team, previously listed as a 2009-10 expansion team, is again listed as part of the Northwest division. The Raptors are now listed as being based in Castle Rock (WA).
National Basketball Association Development League: Although nothing has been officially announced, speculation has the city of Springfield (MA) as the other Northeast-based market the NBA D-League will add next season along with Portland (ME).
World Basketball Association Exposure League: The list of 2009 WBA Exposure League teams has undergone some changes and has been reduced from eight to seven teams. The Marietta (GA) Storm and the Tyrone (GA) Tornadoes are now listed as 2010 expansion teams and the Cartersville (GA) Baseline Warriors team, a 2008 league member, has been added. The 2009 Rome (GA) Gladiators team is now listed as the Rome Rage.
Premier Basketball League: The Concord/Walnut Creek (CA) Showtime, a semi-pro basketball team that has been filling as a temporary member of the American Basketball Association this season, has applied for membership in the PBL for next season. The PBL would eventually like to add six to eight teams on the West Coast, but there has been no timetable announced for that expansion.
Women's National Basketball Association: The owner of the Indiana Pacers in the National Basketball Association has expressed concern over the continued operating losses it has faced at its current arena, as it tries to renegotiate certain aspects of its lease. The owner has not yet threatened to move the NBA team out of Indianapolis, but has concerns about the Pacers' interest in the Indiana Fever of the Women's National Basketball Association and indicated that franchise needs to increase its attendance and sponsorships to survive past this year.
United Football League: The four-team UFL, a new professional outdoor football league that plans to start play in October 2009, is moving forward with development of its inaugural franchises in New York, Las Vegas, Orlando and San Francisco. Some 2009 games will also be played in Los Angeles and Hartford.
United National Gridiron League: The UNGL, which plans to become a development league for the National Football League and other leagues, now posts that its inaugural season will start on May 3, 2009. The league had planned to start with eight teams in February, but that had been pushed back to March.
Indoor Football League: The IFL, which was created in August 2008 through a merger of the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football, has started its inaugural 2009 season with 19 teams split into an Intense Conference, which includes the five-team Lonestar Division and the four-team Pacific Division, and a United Conference, which includes the five-team Atlantic Division and the five-team Central Division. The original merger included eight UIF teams and nine Intense Football League teams. Since then, the new IFL lost three teams, added an expansion team, and added four teams or markets from the 2008 Continental Indoor Football League.
Southern Indoor Football League: The new six-team SIFL plans to start its inaugural season next month. The league hopes it can bring a franchise to Beaumont (TX) in 2010. Beaumont had the Drillers in the National Indoor Football League (2003-07) and the American Professional Football League (2008).
Independent Indoor Football Alliance: The IIFA has its 2009 season schedule posted for six participating teams-the North Texas Crunch, DFW Doom, Texas Krush (Irving), Dallas Knights, Texas Smash and Texas Wranglers (Colin County). The IIFA regular season will run from April to late June.
United States Indoor Football League: The proposed USIFL has announced four teams for its inaugural season-the New England Surge, Lehigh Valley Outlawz, Southland (IL) Chill and Bridgeview Red Devils. It is uncertain how many teams will be part of the 2009 season that starts in mid-April.
American Professional Football League: The indoor APFL plans to have at least four teams in 2009-the Iowa Blackhawks, Kansas Koyotes, Springfield (MO) Wolfpack and Lincoln Tornadoes. A team called the Denver Titans will play at least two games against APFL teams during the season.
American Hockey League: The Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League continue with plans to move its AHL Quad City Flames affiliate to Abbotsford (British Columbia) for the 2009-10 season. The league still has to approve the move and other teams may be opposed to the additional travel because Abbotsford will be the only AHL team on the West Coast. If the Flames move out of the Quad Cities, it is uncertain which league would try to fill the void in the market.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The owner of the Acadie-Bathurst (Quebec) Titan franchise has decided to keep the team in Bathurst after considering a move to St. John's (Newfoundland), which recently lost its QMJHL franchise known as the Fog Devils after the 2007-08 season. The Lewiston-based Maine Maineiacs franchise might end up staying in town next season after a proposed move to the Montreal suburb of Boisbriand was voted down and a second proposed move to Fredericton (New Brunswick) appears to be dead.
Central Hockey League: The 16-team CHL plans to add new franchises in Allen (TX) and Independence (MO) for the 2009-10 season. An expansion draft will be held this summer when the league plans to announce its divisional alignment for the new franchises. The new Allen-based team, located just north of Dallas, is expected to become a natural rival for the Texas Brahmas team, which is based just north of Fort Worth in North Richland Hills.
Major League Soccer: It appears that Vancouver will be awarded one of the next two MLS expansion franchises sometime in the near future. Expansion efforts in Portland and St. Louis recently received positive news. The city of Portland agreed to parts of a financing deal for conversion of the city's baseball stadium into a soccer-specific stadium and building a new baseball stadium for the Triple-A Portland Beavers. The St. Louis expansion group will benefit from the acquisition of a local soccer complex from Anheuser-Busch, which plans to lobby for a St. Louis-based MLS franchise. Ottawa is the other remaining expansion group and that city needs to decide whether it will support a new stadium for either an MLS franchise or for a Canadian Football League franchise.
Professional Arena Soccer League: The PASL Pro league is completing its inaugural season and the commissioner believes all 2008-09 teams will return next season. The league plans to expand next season by adding teams in Tacoma, Kansas City, Louisville, San Diego and possibly Spokane (WA).
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.%20%20Danemail@example.com.
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