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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 11, 2010 - Northern League (NL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic Baseball League: The Newark Bears ABL franchise has officially moved to the Can-Am League as a way of lowering operating costs next season. The Can-Am League plays a 94-game season compared to the 140-game season in the ABL. Two other ABL teams, the Nashua Pride in 2006 and the Atlantic City Surf in 2007, left for the shorter-season Can-Am League. Nashua (NH) then dropped from the Can-Am League after the 2009 season, while Atlantic City folded after the 2008 season. The ABL is expected to add a travel team called the Pennsylvania Road Warriors next season as a replacement for Newark. The league plans to add teams in Loudoun (VA) and Sugar Land (TX) in 2012. The ABL hopes to add three additional Texas-based teams in the future to create a four-team Southwest Division.

Pacific Coast League: The name-the-team contest for the Omaha Royals of the Triple-A PCL is now down to nine possible nicknames: Cattlemen, Commanders, Force, Hailstorm, Omahogs, Royals, Sodbusters, Storm Chasers, and Windwalkers.

Northern League: Four independent Northern League teams-the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones, and Winnipeg Goldeyes-are reportedly considering a move to the independent American Association for next season. The Northern League lost teams in Lincoln (NE), St. Paul (MN), Sioux Falls (SD), and Sioux City (IA) to the AA when that league was formed for the 2006 season. Some of the other four remaining Northern League teams could also move to other leagues.

Can-Am League: The Newark Bears of the Atlantic Baseball League have officially moved to the Can-Am League for next season. The ownership of the Pittsfield Colonials announced the team will return for the 2011 Can-Am League. The league received franchise proposals from groups in Ramapo (NY) and Trois Rivieres (Quebec) with an announcement on expansion expected next month.

Pecos League: The Pecos League lists seven of the proposed eight teams that it plans to have for its inaugural 2011 season. The league's "accepted" list now includes the Clovis (NM) Pioneers team, while the El Paso Dragons are now listed as the Odessa Dragons. The "proposed" team list now includes two possible teams called the Amarillo Gold Sox and the Leones de Juarez.

West Coast League: The summer-collegiate WCL will play with nine teams in 2011. The Moses Lake Pirates will become inactive in 2011, while the inactive Spokane RiverHawks club is trying to move to a proposed ballpark in Coeur d'Alene (ID).

BASKETBALL

Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League: The ACPBL has reinstated the Beltway Bombers team that was removed last week and has also added the Westchester Wildkatz team. This gives the league eight teams for its inaugural 2010-11 season that starts on December 4.

American Basketball Association: The ABA has announced a travel team from Nicaragua will be based out of Atlanta and will play a limited number of games against ABA teams in the 2010-11 season.

Texas Professional Basketball League: The TPBL has announced a new team based in Texarkana (TX) will be part of the 2011 season. The Cypress Synergy, which was part of the 2009 TPBL, plans to return for 2011.

Eastern Basketball Alliance: The EBA has announced that the Carolina Gladiators will be part of the upcoming 2010-11 season and will be the first Carolina team to play in the league. The Gladiators plan to split home games between Fayetteville (NC) and Lumberton (NC).

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The IFL has announced a new team called the Nebraska Danger that will be based in the city of Grand Island when its starts play in 2011. The IFL also announced a new team called the Arizona Adrenaline, based in Prescott Valley, will be part of the 2011 season. A team by the same name played one season (2008) as part of the American Indoor Football Association, but ceased operations and was revived under new ownership. The ownership of the Billings Outlaws has disbanded the franchise and the team will no longer be part of the IFL. The Outlaws were facing costs associated with tornado damage to its arena and equipment this past summer. The Outlaws had been part of the IFL for the past two seasons and the city has had a professional indoor football team since the 2000 season.

Southern Indoor Football League: The new Houston-based SIFL franchise that plans to start play in 2011 is expected to be called the Houston Stallions. The league plans to add three other new Texas teams in Abilene, Corpus Christi, and Rio Grande Valley, along with a team in Mobile (AL). The Greenville (SC) Force, one of the five teams from last season, will not return as new ownership is being sought.

Continental Indoor Football League: A new team called the Marion (OH) Blue Racers plans to be part of the 2011 CIFL season. A team called the Marion Mayhem had been part of the CIFL since it started play in 2006.

Professional Indoor Football League: The proposed PIFL plans to start play in 2011, but is already talking about a Far West Division (West Coast) being added for the 2012 season.

United Football League: The proposed new UFL franchise based in the Hampton Roads (VA) area has unveiled three possible team nicknames: the Virginia Destroyers, Virginia Navigators, and Virginia Tritons. The original nickname choices for fan voting included "Commanders" as a fourth option or a write-in name as a fifth option. The franchise decided to use Virginia in its nickname rather than Hampton Roads. The team is expected to start play in the 2012 season. The league reports there are three potential ownership groups that have expressed interest in bringing a UFL franchise to the Los Angeles area.

Independent Women's Football League: The IWFL has announced that the new Madison (WI) Cougars team will be part of the league's Midwest Division in 2011.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL has started its 75th season with 30 teams that each serve as an affiliate for the 30 teams in the National Hockey League. The Eastern Conference and Western Conference each have a seven-team and an eight-team division. The new Oklahoma City Barons were added to the Western Conference West Division as the league's 30th team, while the Western Conference North Division remained the same. The Albany River Rats moved to Charlotte as the Charlotte Checkers, but remained in the Eastern Conference East Division. The Lowell (MA) Devils relocated to Albany as the Albany Devils and were moved from the Atlantic Division to the Eastern Conference East Division.

Continental Junior Hockey League: The new CJHL has announced that teams called the Syracuse Stampede and Indiana (PA) Drillers will not be part of the league's inaugural 2010-11 season and will rejoin next season. This leaves the league with only three teams-the Alpena (MI) Thunder, Erie Blizzard, and Niagara Fury-for its first season. Another team called the Johnstown Wings had previously announced it would delay its start until 2011-12.

Ontario Junior Hockey League: The Ontario Junior "A" Hockey League has merged with the Central Canada Hockey League to re-establish a 31-team OJHL for the 2010-11 season. Prior to the 2009-10 season, the OJHL divided into two leagues-the 21-team CCHL and the 15-team OJAHL. Five teams from last season-the Ajax Attack, Bowmanville Eagles, Bramalea Blues, Couchiching Terriers, and Seguin Bruins-were contracted as part of the merger.

SOCCER

United Soccer Leagues - USL PRO: The Harrisburg (PA) City Islanders and the Charlotte (NC) Eagles, two teams that were part of the USL Second Division in 2010, have joined the new USL PRO league for its inaugural 2011 season.

Professional Arena Soccer League: The Wenatchee (WA) Fire will be returning to the PASL-Pro league for 2010-11 as part of the new Frontier Division. The Wenatchee Fire has been part of the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL-Premier) since 2005. For the 2008-09 season, the Wenatchee Fire had teams at both the PASL-Pro and PASL-Premier levels, but the PASL-Pro team did not return in 2009-10. The new Illinois Piasa will represent the St. Louis metropolitan area in the PASL-Pro Frontier Division for 2010-11. The Illinois Piasa will have the Piasa FC as its affiliate, which has competed for the past three seasons in the PASL-Premier. Both the Illinois Piasa and Piasa FC will play their home games in Pontoon Beach (IL).

North American Soccer League: The NASL has announced the city of San Antonio (TX) has been awarded an expansion franchise that will start play in the 2012 season. The leagues Miami FC Blues club plans to be re-branded as the Strikers for next season. The team is considering the Fort Lauderdale Strikers name that was used by a team in the original NASL, along with the South Florida Strikers, Strikers FC, or possibly the Strikers 11.

National Premier Soccer League: The NPSL has decided to cancel its proposed Winter Season that was to debut this month. The NPSL operated its regular season this past summer with 31 teams, but planned to start a four-team Winter Season with the Corpus Christi Fuel, Galveston Pirate SC, Regals FC, and FC Tulsa. Apparently, FC Tulsa dropped out at the last minute, so the start of the Winter Season was pushed back to 2011. The three remaining teams decided to join the new six-team Southern Premier Soccer League that was organized by the general managers of the Regals FC and Galveston Pirate SC.

Southern Premier Soccer League: The new six-team SPSL was organized after the National Premier Soccer League announced it was postponing its inaugural Winter Season. Three NPSL clubs-the Corpus Christi Fuel, Galveston Pirate SC, and Regals FC-joined with the Texas Lonestrikers, Tulsa Lobos FC, and the Houston-based Club America USA to form the SPSL. The SPSL teams will play a 20-game schedule from early October 2010 to late March 2011. The league plans to expand throughout the southern United States. The Memphis Rogues and Houston Santos FC appear to be future expansion teams.

Major Indoor Soccer League: The MISL states it will again have five teams in its upcoming 2010-11 season. The league lost the Rockford Rampage and Monterrey (Mexico) La Raza, but added the new Omaha Vipers and Missouri Comets (Independence).

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagueology™ almanac known as "Leagues, Teams & Nicknames", which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The latest 2009-10 edition is available at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/leagues-teams-nicknames-2009-10/6534940. Dan can be contacted at dankrieger@leaguesteamsnicknames.com.

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