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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
December 14, 2009 - Arena Football League (AFL)

BASEBALL

Golden Baseball League: The ownership of the St. George (UT) Roadrunners has stated the GBL franchise will not be back for the 2010 season. The team lasted three seasons after starting play in 2007. The Roadrunners' ownership was involved in the proposed GBL expansion of up to four Hawaii-based teams. St. George lost another independent team a few years ago called the Zion/St. George Pioneerz that played three seasons (1999-2001) in the defunct Western Baseball League.

United League Baseball: Construction of a new ballpark for a proposed Dallas franchise in the ULB might not get underway. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has decertified the levees surrounding land that was to be used for the ballpark and surrounding development.

Pacific Coast League: The owner of the Portland Beavers in the Triple-A PCL is still looking for a place to build a new ballpark for the team, since its current ballpark is expected to be retrofitted for a 2011 Major League Soccer expansion team. Proposed ballpark locations in Portland and Beaverton (OR) have failed and now the city of Vancouver (WA), across the Columbia River from Portland, has expressed interest in becoming home to the Beavers.

American Association: The Fort Worth Cats plan to play in the 2010 AA season even though the team is up for sale. The Houston suburb of Sugar Land is seeking proposals for a minor league baseball stadium that could be ready for the 2012 season. The independent AA and the affiliated Pacific Coast League have expressed interest in working with the city.

New York-Penn League: The short-season Class-A New York-Penn League has announced its 2010 schedule with the same 14 teams as last season. There had been talk of a New York-Penn League team possibly moving to Norwich (CT) for the 2010 season. Norwich recently lost the Connecticut Defenders to Richmond (VA) in the Double-A Eastern League. Apparently, the independent Can-Am League is also interested in the Norwich market.

BASKETBALL

Global Professional Basketball League: The GPBL has confirmed that four teams will be part of its inaugural 2010 season starting this spring. The league will have three Ohio teams called the Barberton Wizards, Canton Conquest, and Stark Revolution, and one Pennsylvania team called the Lancaster Liberty.

Eastern Basketball Alliance: The EBA has started its 2009-10 men's season with 17 teams that include six new teams called the Beltway Bombers (Dumfries, VA), Connecticut Stallions (Stamford), Hudson Valley Hype (Newburgh, NY), Metropolitan All-Stars (Largo, MD), Newark Patrons, and Norfolk Tru-Hope Trailblazers. The Cincinnati Century, Delaware Destroyers, Virginia FastBreak, and Wilkes-Barre Triple Threat did not return. The Cincinnati Century and five other teams are listed as 2011 teams. The Women's Eastern Basketball Alliance plans to start play next month with four teams-the Baltimore Starz, Harrisburg Lady Horizon, Maryland Lady Suns, and New Jersey Thunder.

International Basketball League: The Holland Blast, which decided to leave the IBL after the 2009 season, now appears as one of the "Teams Coming Soon". The Seattle Mountaineers are no longer listed as a 2010 team. Seattle is playing in the current 2009-10 season of the American Basketball Association.

National Basketball Association: Plans for a new development in Brooklyn that would include an 18,000-seat arena for the New Jersey Nets appear to be moving forward. If the Nets do eventually move, the team is expected to be renamed the Brooklyn Nets.

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA held a dispersal draft for players from the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs franchise. Several potential investors were interested in buying the Monarchs and moving the club to the Bay Area, but that was unable to happen in time for the 2010 season. The league plans to try to add a Bay Area expansion franchise for the 2011 season.

American Basketball Association: The ABA's Smoky Mountain Jam, which played as the Knoxville Thunderbolts last season, apparently will not be playing as part of the league in the 2009-10 season. The ABA has entered into a joint venture to form ABA Global, which will expand the league internationally and bring foreign-based teams to the United States. In addition to the current Beijing (China) Aoshen team, the ABA plans to add a Philippines team that will be based in Daly City (CA), and a Korean team.

FOOTBALL

Arena Football One (AF1): The new AF1 won the bid to purchase the assets of the bankrupt Arena Football League, which last played in the 2008 season. This includes all of the former AFL and former arenafootball2 team names and logos. Two previously announced AF1 teams in Chicago and Dallas decided to take their cities' previous AFL team names and have become the Chicago Rush and Dallas Desperados. The Salt Lake City-based Utah Valley Thunder was also expected to take the former AFL's Utah Blaze nickname. The league also announced two more new teams for 2010, the Cleveland Gladiators and Tampa Bay Storm. These teams also took names of their cities' 2008 AFL teams. Also, the AF1's Huntsville-based Tennessee Valley Vipers decided to change its name to the Alabama Vipers. The AF1 now listed 15 teams for its inaugural 2010 season. This included seven former AFL markets from 2008; seven former af2 markets from the 2009 season; and a new team in Jacksonville, which had an af2 team for four seasons (1999-2002).

Indoor Football League: A deal to bring a third Alaska-based franchise to the IFL has fallen through and the Arctic Predators of Wasilla (AK) will not be part of the 2010 season. The Predators' ownership will instead operate a new expansion franchise granted by the IFL called the Kent (WA) Predators. The Kent Predators will be part of a division that will include the Alaska (Anchorage) Wild, Billings (MT) Outlaws, Colorado (Fort Collins) Ice, Fairbanks (AK) Grizzlies, and the Tri-Cities Fever of Kennewick (WA).

American Indoor Football Association: With the city of Wasilla (AK) losing out on an IFL franchise called the Arctic Predators, there was talk of that market trying to shift to the AIFA, possibly for the 2010 season. The Fayetteville (NC) Guard announced the franchise will return for the 2010 AIFA season.

Southern Indoor Football League: A proposed SIFL franchise based in Houma (LA) no longer appears on the list of SIFL teams. The league was forced to take control of last season's Houma Conquerors due to financial problems and wanted to find new ownership to take over the Houma (LA) market with a new franchise in 2010.

Continental Indoor Football League: The CIFL is holding its league meeting and should have an announcement in the near future for 2010. The co-founder says he anticipates a minimum of six teams in 2010 including the new Fort Wayne team. Rule changes include a possible switch from the seven-man game to an eight-man game like other indoor football leagues.

United Indoor Alliance: The proposed UIA has announced a second team for its inaugural 2010 season will be the Mahoning Valley Buzz. The league's other team is the Savannah-based Port City Sharks.

Arenafootball2: The Albany Firebirds from the disbanded af2 have officially suspended operations for the 2010 season with the hope of returning in some other league in 2011, possibly the new Arena Football 1.

HOCKEY

All American Hockey League: The AAHL was having some franchise problems midway through its 2009-10 season. The Detroit Hitmen franchise was in the process of being sold and reportedly moving to Holland (MI). The ownership of the Chicago Blaze surrendered its franchise to the league due to financial issues and has stopped playing. The league had been trying to find new ownership for the Blaze.

North American Hockey League: The Tier II Junior-A NAHL has terminated the ownership agreement of the Albert Lea (MN) Thunder, but the team will continue to play. The league will operate the team for the rest of the season or until a new ownership group is found.

Federal Hockey League: The new FHL plans to start play in November 2010 and has listed four potential teams and markets. These include the Danbury (CT) Whalers and Ottawa Patriots teams, along with the markets of Alexandria Bay (NY), and Rome (NY).

SOCCER

North American Soccer League: The proposed St. Louis NASL franchise, previously referred to as St. Louis Soccer United, will be called AC St. Louis when the league starts play in April 2010. The NASL currently has ten teams planning to play in the inaugural season.

United Soccer Leagues (First Division): The USL has sued three former franchises-the Crystal Palace FC (Baltimore), Rochester Rhinos, and Tampa Bay Rowdies-for leaving the USL First Division to join the new North American Soccer League. The USL claims the three teams were contractually committed to play in the USL First Division for 2010. Crystal Palace was to join the 2010 USL First Division from the USL Second Division; Tampa Bay was supposed to be a 2010 expansion team in the USL First Division; while Rochester had been a longtime member of the USL First Division.

Major League Soccer: The MLS held discussions with government officials and the owner of the Montreal Impact, which is part of the new North American Soccer League, about an MLS expansion team in Montreal. The Impact's current 13,000-seat stadium was designed to be expanded for MLS standards.

Women's Premier Soccer League: The Madison (WI) 56ers will field a team in the 2010 WPSL. The women's club is affiliated with the Princeton 56ers men's club that plays in the men's National Premier Soccer League that was started by the WPSL about five years ago.

OTHER

National Pro Fastpitch: The NPF has taken over the rights to the Rockford Thunder franchise. The team's owner was unable to find new owners after putting the team up for sale this past summer. The Rockford territory and team is up for sale and the league does not want to run the team next season. A group from Atlanta had signed a letter of intent to buy the team and move it, but the buyers missed a deadline to finalize the deal. The Thunder is one of the league's original teams when the NPF started league-play in 2004. The team played its first three seasons (2004-06) in Houston as the Texas Thunder.

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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