Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
December 20, 2010 - Frontier League (FL)
Southern League: The owner of the Pensacola Pelicans in the independent American Association (AA) has purchased the Carolina Mudcats franchise in the Double-A Southern League and plans to move the team from the Raleigh (NC) area to Pensacola for the 2012 season. The Pensacola Pelicans AA franchise will be relocated to Amarillo, as the Pelicans were sold to the ownership group planning to place an AA franchise in Amarillo for 2011. That group also owns the Shreveport-Bossier Captains AA franchise.
Carolina League: With the sale of the Southern League's Double-A Carolina Mudcats to a group in Pensacola, the Mudcats' owner has purchased the Kinston (NC) Indians franchise in the Class-A Carolina League. The Kinston Indians will be moved to the home of the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon (NC), near Raleigh, for the 2012 Carolina League season. Kinston had been part of the Carolina League for 49 years.
Pacific Coast League: The city of Escondido (CA) gave initial approval for funding of a ballpark that is to become home to the Triple-A PCL affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The owner of the Padres plans to move forward on the purchase of the PCL's Portland Beavers and eventually move the franchise to Escondido, where the ballpark is expected to be completed for the 2013 season. In the interim, the Portland franchise will be moved to Tucson (AZ) for the 2011 season as the Tucson Padres and could also spend the 2012 season in Tucson.
Frontier League: The Frontier League's Oakland County Cruisers franchise will sit out the 2011 season, as they complete their new ballpark for a restart in 2012. The Cruisers recently signed a financing agreement for completion of its 4,000-seat ballpark. The league will add a new franchise based in Joliet (IL), which had been home to the Joliet JackHammers of the Northern League. With the addition of Joliet, the league will remain at an even number of teams in 2011 and will not have to operate a travel team. The new Joliet team is in the process of selecting a team name with Jailbirds, Jackrabbits, Jailers, Old-Timers, '66ers, Gems, Gravel, Stonecutters, Luckys, Pioneers, and Steelheads as possible choices.
Permian Basin League: The proposed Permian Basin League is looking at the Pueblo (CO) market for a possible baseball team. The league is listed as the Southwestern States League on its web site.
New York-Penn League: Plans for a proposed new ballpark in West Chester (PA) near Philadelphia are moving forward. The Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball have expressed interest in placing a Class-A team in the new ballpark and speculation is that this could be a Class-A team in the short-season New York-Penn League.
Futures Collegiate Baseball League: The New England-based summer-collegiate Futures League plans to start play with at least six teams in 2011. One team already accepted into the league is the Martha's Vineyard Sharks.
American Basketball Association: The ABA has a new team called the Aberdeen Attack listed as a 2011-12 expansion team. The Columbus (GA) Riverballers have replaced the Columbus Life Tigers in the league's team list for the Southeast Division. The Owensboro-based Kentucky Bisons have decided to cancel its 2010-11 ABA season. The Bisons joined the ABA back in the 2008-09 season.
National Basketball Association: Although there has been interest from other cities for the New Orleans Hornets, a Louisiana-based ownership group is trying to keep the franchise in New Orleans. Last week, the owner of the New Orleans Hornets agreed to sell the club to the NBA and fueled speculation that the franchise could move to another city.
Women's United States Basketball Association: The organizer of the WUSBA, which failed to start as planned in 2010, again reports that the WUSBA will start play in June 2011 with 20 teams in 4 divisions. A men's league known as the United States Basketball Association had been in the works for a couple of years, but it also failed to start as planned in April 2010.
Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: In early October 2010, the Puerto Vallarta-based Jaguares de la Bahia Riviera Nayarit were replaced by a team from Saltillo (Coahuila) after only a month into its inaugural LNBP season. Saltillo had a team called the Lobos that last played in the 2008-09 LNBP.
Eastern Basketball Alliance: The standings in the EBA Southern Division now include the Maryland Marvels team, which was part of the 2009-10 American Basketball Association. The Marvels moved its home from Severna Park to Annapolis as it plays its inaugural season in the EBA. The Women's Eastern Basketball Alliance has decided to suspend play for the 2011 season and will return in 2012.
Lingerie Football League: The women's LFL was planning to add an expansion team in Oklahoma City for the 2011 season, but the city will not let an LFL team play at either of the city-owned venues.
Continental Indoor Football League: It looks as though the CIFL will again have six teams in 2011, but with several changes. The Marion Mayhem, Fort Wayne FireHawks, and Wisconsin Wolfpack are not expected to return, but three other teams called the Port Huron Predators, Marion Blue Racers, and Grand Rapids Fury are expected to join for 2011. The Chicago Cardinals were renamed the Chicago Knights, while the Miami Valley Silverbacks became the Dayton Silverbacks. The Cincinnati Commandos team is also returning from last season.
Ultimate Indoor Football League: The new UIFL plans to start play in 2011 with six teams. One of these teams, the Saginaw (MI) Sting, has already had a change in ownership and will be owned and operated by the league in 2011. A team called the Saginaw Sting started play in the 2008 Continental Indoor Football League before switching to the Indoor Football League for 2009. The Sting suspended operations after the 2009 IFL season and apparently came under new ownership.
All American Hockey League: The Dyer-based Indiana Blizzard has dropped out of the AAHL after only 11 games in its inaugural season. This franchise started as the Detroit Hitmen in the 2009-10 season, but moved to Muskegon as the West Michigan Blizzard midway through the season. The Blizzard then moved to Dyer (IN) prior for the 2010-11 season. This is the second franchise to leave the AAHL this season, as the Wooster (OH) KornKings, originally the Madison (WI) Ice Muskies, dropped out after only five games. The AAHL has four remaining teams.
Northern Professional Hockey League: The new Single-A NPHL is organizing and plans to start play with six to eight teams in October 2011. The league is looking at locations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. A Single-A league called the Northern League of Professional Hockey had tried to form back in 2004 and 2005.
National Hockey League: The city of Glendale (AZ) has approved a new lease for the Phoenix Coyotes which should allow the completion of a pending sale for the NHL franchise. The new owner plans to change the name of the team to the Arizona Coyotes.
North American Soccer League: The new San Antonio-based NASL franchise that plans to start play in 2012 is accepting ideas for a team name that will be announced sometime next month. The Miami FC Blues have signed an agreement with a marketing group that will help re-launch the team under the Strikers name in 2011.
Women's Professional Soccer: The Chicago Red Stars of the WPS have announced the team was unable to obtain necessary funding and will suspend operations for the 2011 season. The Red Stars hope to return in 2012. This is the second team the league lost from the seven teams that completed the 2010 season, as the FC Gold Pride folded last month. The WPS plans to have six teams for the 2011 season: the Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Independence, Sky Blue FC (New Jersey), Washington (DC) Freedom, and the expansion Western New York Flash. The new owner of the Washington Freedom plans to rename the team the magicJack FC and wants to split home games this season between Washington and South Florida. The WPS has approved the owner's plans to explore the South Florida market for 2012.
United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League: The USL has announced that WSA Winnipeg has been added as the latest team in the PDL and will most likely be added to the Heartland Division for the upcoming 2011 season.
Rugby Super League: Over the past few months, four RSL teams-Charlotte Olde Originals Rugby Football Club, Boston Irish Wolfhounds, Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (San Diego), and Potomac Athletic Club (Washington, DC)-have announced they will not be returning to the league in 2011. This reduces the league to ten teams, but a new team is expected to be announced after the first of the year. The RSL has apparently reached out to a team called the Las Vegas Lumberjacks for membership. A team called the Glendale (CO) Raptors applied for RSL membership, but was rejected.
Western American National Rugby League: The WAMNRL, which is the proposed western expansion of the American National Rugby League, has received interest from Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, and the British Columbia cities of Victoria and Vancouver. The league would like to get at least six teams to start play, possibly in 2011. A western expansion effort was tried a couple of summers ago, but it was unable to get off the ground.
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 email@example.com.
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