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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 27, 2009 - Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL)


BASEBALL

Eastern League: The owner of the Norwich-based Connecticut Defenders in the Double-A Eastern League plans to move the franchise to Richmond (VA) for the 2010 season after a proposed sale of the team to a Richmond group could not be completed. This move could be intended to prevent a group with ties to the independent Atlantic Baseball League from renovating Richmond's current ballpark and placing an ABL franchise in the city.

Atlantic Baseball League: Officials in Loudoun County (VA) have approved zoning for a 5,700-seat ballpark as part of a proposed real estate development. The ballpark is expected to become home to an ABL franchise.

Canadian-American League (Can-Am): The Nashua-based American Defenders of New Hampshire in the Can-Am League plan to move an upcoming home series to Quebec. Two games will be played in Quebec City, home to the league's Quebec Les Capitales franchise, while a third game will be played in Trois-Rivieres (Quebec), about 75 miles southwest of Quebec City. The league has been interested in establishing a franchise in Trois-Rivieres and this has led to speculation that the American Defenders could eventually move there. The American Defenders are currently last in average attendance per game. A team called the Trois-Rivieres Saints was part of the short-lived Canadian Baseball League in 2003.

New York-Penn League: With the Connecticut Defenders of the Double-A Eastern League planning to vacate the Norwich market for the 2010 season, the owners of the Jamestown (NY) Jammers in the short-season Class-A NY-Penn League appear ready to move the team to Norwich for the 2010 season.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The ABA had added the Akron-Canton (OH) market for a proposed 2010-11 expansion franchise. A team known as the Ohio Aviators called Canton as its home for part of the 2005-06 ABA season. The proposed 2009-10 Savannah (GA) Prowl franchise has moved to the Henry County city of McDonough, just south of Atlanta, and the team has been renamed the Georgia Prowl. The ABA has two other teams-the Atlanta Vision and College Park Spyders-that plan to be part of the upcoming 2009-10 season. Proposed 2009-10 teams in Austin (TX) and Juarez (Mexico) are now listed as 2010-11 expansion teams.

United Basketball League: The five-team UBL has completed its second season that started back in April. The UBL season included the Arkansas Warriors (Little Rock), Oklahoma Impact, Springfield (MO) Thrill, Tulsa Tornadoes and UBL Texas Wranglers (Dallas) playing 10-12 games. The league also had five developmental teams, or UBL D-League teams, called the Arkansas Select, D-League Wranglers, Denton Hustlers, I-20 Pros and Texas Outlaws that played one or two games in 2009.

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA does not expect to lose any franchises in the off-season. The Tulsa (OK) market could be considered for an expansion franchise or a possible destination for a relocated franchise.

FOOTBALL

American Indoor Football Association: The AIFA is moving forward with its proposed Richmond (VA) expansion franchise for next season, despite efforts by the Indoor Football League to place a new franchise in a new arena under construction in suburban Chesterfield.

Arenafootball2: As the 2009 af2 season comes to an end, there has been additional speculation as to what teams might not return for 2010. Due to ownership uncertainty or financial problems caused by low attendance, teams facing an uncertain future include the Peoria Pirates, Tri-Cities Fever and the Mahoning Valley Thunder. According to a statement issued by the Florida Firecats, some af2 owners have been working to form a new league. The Firecats did not want to be part of this action, but will wait to see how the reorganization of the Arena Football League develops and which current leagues continue or new leagues emerge before making a decision.

Southern Indoor Football League: The SIFL took over the Houma (LA) Conquerors franchise earlier this month after the team's ownership failed to pay certain bills on time. This has led to speculation that Houma will not be back in 2010, although the league claims a Houma-based franchise under new ownership will return for next season.

HOCKEY

Eastern Professional Hockey League: It appears that the four-team EPHL will not be playing a second season in 2009-10 due to various financial issues. The new North East Professional Hockey League has been formed to operate in New England and the same general area as the EPHL. Earlier this year, the EPHL announced plans to target expansion markets for a New England division. Two of these proposed teams included the Exeter-based New Hampshire Freeze and Cape Cod-based Hyannis (MA) Storm. The owner of the proposed EPHL team in Cape Cod has switched to the NEPHL.

Southern Professional Hockey League: The SPHL has officially announced its 2009-10 season schedule that will feature seven teams. The league will have four returning teams-the Columbus (GA) Cottonmouths, Fayetteville (NC) FireAntz, Huntsville (AL) Havoc and Knoxville (TN) Ice Bears-and three new teams-the Lafayette-based Louisiana IceGators, the Biloxi-based Mississippi Surge and the Pensacola (FL) Ice Flyers. The Richmond (VA) Renegades and Twin City Cyclones of Winston-Salem (NC) did not return for 2009-10.

All American Hockey League: The AAHL reports that it has signed franchise agreements with two new ownership groups for the 2009-10 season. The league previously stated the four teams that finished its inaugural 2008-09 season, the Battle Creek Revolution, Chicago Blaze, Chi-Town Shooters and Evansville IceMen, are returning for a second season.

Midwest Hockey League: The Madison (WI) Ice Muskies have announced the team will join the MWHL, which plans to start its inaugural season in November 2009. The A-level MWHL failed in an attempt to start play last season. Although no other 2009-10 teams have been announced, the league claims it will have participating teams based in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The owner of the Montreal Impact in the United Soccer Leagues First Division is still attempting to join the MLS by 2012. Philadelphia will join the MLS in 2010 as the league's 16th team, while Portland and Vancouver will join in 2011. St. Louis is also an expansion possibility for 2012.

United Soccer Leagues First Division: The USL First Division is expected to lose the Portland, Vancouver and possibly Montreal markets to Major League Soccer in the near future, so there has been talk about possible expansion markets for the league. San Antonio, Orlando and Hamilton (Ontario) have been mentioned for expansion in the past. Late in 2008, the St. Louis Lions of the USL Premier Development League expressed interest in developing a USL First Division franchise, even though there is an effort to place an MLS expansion team in St. Louis.

Xtreme Soccer League: A local investor has reportedly signed a letter of intent to purchase the Milwaukee Wave and efforts are underway to sell season tickets for a 2009-10 season. The Wave will most likely try to join the National Indoor Soccer League, since the XSL is sitting out the upcoming season.

OTHER

National Lacrosse League: After three seasons of playing games in Newark (NJ), Manhattan and Long Island, the New York Titans franchise is expected to move to Orlando, pending approval from the NLL. The Titans were expected to be based in Newark in 2010, but that has apparently fallen through. The Titans reportedly had looked into moving to either Hartford (CT) or Bridgeport (CT).

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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Eastern Professional Hockey League Stories from July 27, 2009


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