Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 4, 2010 - New York-Penn League (NYPL)

BASEBALL

New York-Penn League: Apparently, the city of Norwich (CT) plans to hold discussions next week concerning negotiations for use of the city's ballpark by a current team in the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League. There had been speculation in the off-season that a New York-Penn League team would move into the Norwich market after the city's Double-A Eastern League team, the Connecticut Defenders, moved to Richmond as the Flying Squirrels.

Continental Baseball League: Some early releases of 2010 team schedules indicate the CBL could have some new teams for its upcoming season, but nothing definitive has been announced. Proposed new teams include the East Texas Road Hogs, Texas Twisters, West Texas Pavement Crushers, Desert Valley Mountain Lions, and Las Cruces Vaqueros. Of the six teams from last season, it appears the Bay Area Toros, Coastal Kingfish, and Texas Gunslingers are gone, while the Big Bend Cowboys, Alexandria Aces, and South Louisiana Pipeliners will return. The Pipeliners have moved from Morgan City to New Iberia.

Louisiana Fall League: Apparently, the concept of a Louisiana Fall League based in Alexandria (LA) is not dead. The LFL, which would be affiliated with the Continental Baseball League, tried to start this past fall with plans to have teams play a 30-game schedule from early September to late October. The LFL is a pay-to-play league and would need players willing to pay a set fee for housing and meals during the season, while gaining playing experience and the chance for placement on a CBL team.

Southwestern League: A proposed six-team independent pro league called the Southwestern League plans to start play in the southwest United States in 2011. The league has named four ownership groups with Douglas (AZ) and El Centro (CA) noted as two of the league's potential markets.

BASKETBALL

Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): Mexico's northeastern Pacific Coast basketball league known as CIBACOPA plans to have two expansion teams in 2010 called the Zonkies de Tijuana and Bomberos de Mexicali. All 10 teams from last season are expected to return, so the league will have 12 teams when it starts play in March 2010. The Vaqueros de Agua Prieta team, which sat out the 2009 season, was unable to return as planned for 2010.

American Basketball Association: It looks as though the ABA's latest attempt for a Hawaii-based team, known as the Honolulu Pegasus, might not get off the ground for the 2009-10 season. The league had the Honolulu-based Hawaii Mega Force for a couple of games in the 2005-06 season. Another team called the Hawaii Hurricanes was announced for the 2007-08 season. That team was sold and became the Pacific Rim Rockers, but failed to start as planned in the 2007-08 season.

FIBA Americas League: FIBA (Federation International de Basketball Amateur) is sponsoring its third annual Americas League, which is a 16-team group-play competition from December 2009 through February 2010. The 2009-10 competition did not feature any teams from the United States. Mexico's Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP) was represented by the Soles de Mexicali, the Halcones de la Universidad Veracruz-Xalapas, the Halcones Rojos de Veracruz, and the Halcones de la Universidad Veracruz-Cordoba. The competition also features the Capitanes de Arecibo team, which is a member of Puerto Rico's Baloncesto Superior National (BSN) and part of the 2010 Premier Basketball League.

Texas Professional Basketball League: The Brownwood Brigaide has run into problems with its home venue and the team has moved to Stephenville (TX). The team will play as the Stephenville Brigaide in the 2010 TPBL season that starts next week.

FOOTBALL

Southern Indoor Football League: The SIFL has announced it will not return to Houma (LA) in 2010. The league hopes to have new ownership in place to operate a new Houma-based franchise in 2011. The Houma Conquerors franchise was a charter member of the SIFL for its inaugural 2009 season, but the league was forced to take over the Conquerors during the season due to financial issues.

Continental Indoor Football League: The CIFL has announced its 2010 season schedule that will include only six teams-the Chicago Cardinals, Cincinnati Commandos, Columbus Aces, Fort Wayne Firehawks, Wisconsin Wolfpack, and the Miami Valley Silverbacks travel team. The league operated with eight teams last season, but teams called the Chicago Slaughter, Milwaukee Bonecrushers, Marion Mayhem, Fort Wayne Freedom, Wheeling Wildcats, and Rock River Raptors did not return. Wisconsin and Miami Valley are the only teams returning under the same name as last season.

American Indoor Football Association: The Erie (PA) RiverRats franchise has come under new ownership and will be part of the 2010 AIFA season under a new name. The RiverRats came to Erie for the 2008 season from the relocation of the 2007 Pittsburgh RiverRats. The Erie RiverRats replaced the city's Erie Freeze franchise that had been around for the three previous seasons (2005-07).

Women's Spring Football League: The new WSFL is trying to develop teams for its inaugural 2010 season. The Midwest Division has teams called the River City Hawks, Kansas City Storm, Topeka Mudcats, and Wichita Bombers, while the Southwest Division has only the Ventura Black Widows listed. Another proposed team called the Steel City Renegades is planning tryouts this month. The Racine Rhinos have joined the league, but will not start play until 2011.

HOCKEY

North East Professional Hockey League: The Connecticut C-Dogs in the three-team NEPHL have apparently canceled their ice time at its home arena for the rest of the season due to poor attendance. A recently formed independent hockey team called the Long Island Stingrays has been playing some non-league games against the NEPHL's New York Aviators. The league's other team is the Rhode Island Storm.

Federal Hockey League: The Danbury (CT) Whalers will be one of the teams in the new FHL, which plans to start play in November 2010. The team name was announced this past week and Danbury is one of four previously announced charter locations for the new league. The Whalers will be the city's fourth attempt in the past six years for a professional hockey team. The others included the Danbury Trashers (United Hockey League, 2004-06), the New England Stars (North Eastern Hockey League, 2006-07), and the Danbury Mad Hatters (Eastern Professional Hockey League, 2008-09).

All American Hockey League: The AAHL's new Muskegon-based West Michigan Blizzard franchise started play this past week. The Blizzard was added to the league at mid-season after the departure of the Detroit Hitmen and Chicago Blaze. The Blizzard share the arena used by the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League. Several AAHL teams have affiliation agreements with IHL teams.

North American Hockey League: One of the owners of the Wenatchee (WA) Wild in the Tier II Junior-A NAHL recently met with arena officials in Yakima (WA) about the possibility of a new NAHL team based in the city that could be a rival for the Wild.

SOCCER

North American Soccer League: The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) voted not to sanction the new NASL or its rival, the United Soccer Leagues First Division, to operate as a Division II professional league in 2010. Both organizations were unable to meet the requirement of a minimum of eight viable teams for 2010 and there were too many uncertainties with each proposed league. The USSF has given the two sides a full week to reconcile their differences and attempt to develop another plan that would allow a single league to be approved.

United Soccer Leagues (First Division): The USL First Division plans to work with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and the North American Soccer League (NASL) to develop a Division II league for 2010. The USL has apparently dropped its lawsuit against three of its former members-the Rochester Rhinos, Crystal Palace Baltimore, and Tampa Bay Rowdies-for jumping to the new NASL. The National Sports Center in Blaine (MN) announced plans to develop a new Division II pro soccer team for its soccer complex as a replacement for the Minnesota Thunder, which was struggling financially when it announced plans to join the new NASL. If the USL First Division and the NASL reach an agreement for a 2010 league, a decision would have to be made as to who owns the rights to the St. Louis market. The AC St. Louis club was announced as a new NASL Division II franchise, while a group associated with the St. Louis Lions in the USL Premier Development League held the rights to a proposed St. Louis-based Division II franchise in the USL First Division. The St. Louis USL group had been working toward a 2011 start.

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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