Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 7, 2009 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Canadian-American (Can-Am) League: The owner of the Atlantic City (NJ) Surf has decided to fold the Can-Am League franchise. The Atlantic City Surf was a charter member of the Atlantic Baseball League for its inaugural 1998 season and switched to the shorter-season Can-Am League for the 2007 season. With this announcement, the Can-Am League decided it would not operate the Ottawa Voyageurs franchise and would have only six teams in the 2009 season-Brockton, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Quebec, Sussex and Worcester.

Arizona Summer League: The Golden Baseball League plans to operate the new developmental ASL in 2009 with four teams based in Yuma (AZ). Similar to its Arizona Winter League, the ASL will be a 20-game season played over one month and allow professional free agents and collegiate graduates an exposure opportunity for possible selection by the GBL or other leagues. The ASL will start play on June 28 with teams called the Canada Miners, El Centro Imperials, San Luis Athleticos and Yuma Scorpions.

Atlantic Baseball League: A group with ties to the ABL has apparently lost out on its plans for a proposed ABL franchise in Richmond (VA). A Richmond-based ownership group has purchased the affiliated Connecticut Defenders of the Double-A Eastern League with plans to move the franchise to Richmond after the 2009 season.

United League Baseball: A new lease has been approved by Nueces County that will allow a ULB team to play in Robstown, just outside of Corpus Christi, in the 2009 season. The Corpus Christi Beach Dawgs of the Continental Baseball League played in Robstown in 2008, but did not return for the second year of a two-year lease. The area is also home to the affiliated Corpus Christi Hooks of the Double-A Texas League.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA D-League has awarded a 2009-10 franchise to Springfield (MA). This franchise will be a relocation of the Anaheim Arsenal franchise that has been part of the league since the 2006-07 season. The league's expansion franchise in Portland (ME) has announced it will be called the Maine Red Claws when it starts play in the 2009-10 season. Other nickname choices were Beacons, Crushers, Claws, Destroyers, Swarm and Traps.

International Basketball League: The IBL has started its fifth season with 16 full-schedule teams. The IBL has several other partial-schedule teams that are in what is called a "branding year". This concept is the first year entry method for new IBL teams that play between five and ten games to learn the industry before becoming a full-schedule team. Some of these "branding year" teams for 2009 include the Yamhill Highflyers based in McMinnville (OR), the Southern Illinois Truth based in the Mt. Vernon area, the Henderson-based Nevada Pride, the Phoenix Red Rock Raptors and the Olympia (WA) Reign.

West Coast Professional Basketball League: The Hollywood Jammers of the 2009 WCPBL season are an affiliate of the Los Angeles Slam, which participated in the 2008-09 season of the American Basketball Association.

United Regions Basketball League: The URBL has made some team changes just prior to the start of its inaugural season. The league has added the Houston Gladiators and Katy Synergy, while a San Antonio-based team called the Texas Marshals has replaced the Universal City Warriors team.

American Basketball Association: The ABA has announced it will add an expansion team in Valdosta (GA) for the 2009-10 season. The league also announced a new Fort Worth (TX) team called the North Texas Fresh will be part of the 2009-10 season. A previously announced expansion team in Youngstown (OH) called the Youngstown Swish is making plans for its inaugural season in 2009-10. The team has also been referred to as the Mahoning Valley Swish. The three ABA teams previously listed as "travel teams"-Hope Trail Blazers (Alexandria, VA), NYC Thunder and Tri-City Racers (Knoxville, TN)-are now listed as 2009-10 expansion teams.

United States Basketball Association: The USBA has completed its team tryouts and will operate with ten teams split into two divisions for its inaugural season that starts April 11, 2009. The Atlantic Division will include the Augusta Raging River, Columbia (SC) Centurions, Jacksonville Admirals, Richmond Colonials and Savannah Seahawks. The Appalachian Division consists of the Atlanta Platinum, Birmingham Crusaders, Montgomery Generals, Nashville Thunder and West Virginia Capitals. The Chattanooga Royal (Appalachian Division) and Charlotte (NC) Blue Wave (Atlantic Division) were no longer listed as part of the 2009 season.

United States Basketball League: The springtime USBL, which played its last season in 2007, plans to restart in 2010 with a goal of ten participating teams.

FOOTBALL

United National Gridiron League: The UNGL has announced a seven-game schedule for each of its eight teams in an inaugural 2009 season that starts May 23. The league has not officially announced each team's nickname and has the teams identified by state name-Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.

Independent Women's Football League: The IWFL plans to have 47 teams participating in its 2009 season that starts next weekend. The league will have 21 teams in its larger-market Tier I designation, which will feature an Eastern and Western conference with 3 divisions each. A smaller-market Tier II designation currently has 26 teams listed in one table with no divisions. In addition, the IWFL has four 2009 exhibition teams, or X-Teams, listed. The IWFL started its first full season in 2002.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The Dayton Bombers and the Biloxi-based Mississippi Sea Wolves will suspend operations for the 2009-10 ECHL season, while the Phoenix RoadRunners will cease operations at the end of the 2008-09 season. The Bombers have been part of the league since the 1991-92 season and the team's owner stated he will continue to work toward a new downtown arena for the franchise. The Sea Wolves joined the league in the 1996-97 season, but had to sit out two seasons (2005-07) due to hurricane damage at its home arena. The Sea Wolves could resurface in another league like the Central Hockey League or relocate to another city as part of the ECHL. The RoadRunners joined the league for the 2005-06 season. West Valley City (UT), which is in the Salt Lake City area and home to Utah Grizzlies, has purchased 40 percent of the ECHL franchise and renegotiated its arena lease. It is hoped this will help with the team's financial losses. The league lost the Augusta Lynx and Fresno Falcons franchises during the 2008-09 season, but plans to add the Toledo Walleye franchise for the 2009-10 season.

Canadian Women's Hockey League: The Montreal Stars of the eastern-based CWHL recently defeated the Minnesota Whitecaps of the Western Women's Hockey League to win the Clarkson Cup in the Canadian women's hockey championship. This is the second season for the six-team CWHL, while the five-team WWHL started play in the 2004-05 season.

American Hockey League: With the Quad City Flames announcing a move to Abbotsford (British Columbia) next season, discussions have surfaced about which league, if any, would have a team in the area next season. Although another AHL team seems unlikely, a Double-A franchise in the International Hockey League, Central Hockey League or ECHL could be a possibility. A junior-A level team in the United States Hockey League has also been mentioned or possibly no team at all for next season. The city of Glens Falls (NY) appears to be the frontrunner to land the Philadelphia Phantoms franchise next season. The city was last home to an AHL franchise in the 1998-99 season with the Adirondack Red Wings. The Phantoms' arena is scheduled for demolition after this season.

Major League Roller Hockey: The Michigan Thunder, Washington Power and Boston Storm are expected to participate in the next "made-for-TV" event on the MLRH Pro Tour in Detroit. The event has been pushed back a couple of weeks to April 18-19, 2009. The league is trying to get the Buffalo Wings as the fourth team to participate in the event.

SOCCER

United Soccer Leagues First Division: The city of New York will have a USL First Division club called FC New York in the league's 2010 season. The team is expected to play at Hofstra University. Another new club that is expected to join the USL First Division in 2010 is the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The Rowdies are working on a stadium plan in the Tampa area.

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%20Dan%20can%20be%20contacted%20at%20dankrieger@leaguesteamsnicknames.com.

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