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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 5, 2011 - NBA G League (G League)

BASEBALL

International League: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees of the Triple-A International League will be forced to play on the road in 2012 due to stadium renovations. One location under consideration as a temporary home is the ballpark on Staten Island that is home to the Staten Island Yankees of the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League. An announcement is expected later this month.

Pacific Coast League: There has been speculation that Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays could try to establish a Triple-A affiliate in Canada, possibly in Vancouver (British Columbia), as part of the PCL. Vancouver is currently home to the successful short-season Class-A Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest League. The city had a team called the Vancouver Canadians that was part of the Triple-A PCL from 1978 to 1999, but that team relocated to become the Sacramento River Rats. The Northwest League's Vancouver Canadians were created for the 2000 season with the relocation of the Medford-based Southern Oregon Timberjacks.

Frontier League: The owners of the Gary (IN) SouthShore RailCats of the American Association have confirmed they will operate a 2012 Frontier League franchise based in Schaumburg (IL).

Pecos League: The six-team Pecos League recently completed its inaugural season and is making plans for a return in 2012. It is uncertain as to whether the league's Riudoso (NM) Osos will return in 2012 after having issues with the team's operations in 2011. The Carlsbad Bats travel team, which was operated by the developmental New York State League, played a series in Carlsbad during the season, but based on poor attendance it does not look like the league will try to place a 2012 team in Carlsbad. A proposed team called the Clovis (MN) Pioneers apparently will not be part of the 2012 season.

Midwest Collegiate League: A new team called the DuPage County Hounds based in Lisle (IL) will be part of the 2012 summer-collegiate MCL, which features teams in the Chicagoland area. A team called the DuPage Dragons recently dropped out of the summer-collegiate Prospect League after the 2010 season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League: The NBA D-League has announced its 2011-12 season schedule will run from late November 2011 to early April 2012. The league will have 16 teams split into 8-team Eastern and Western conferences. The league lost the Utah Flash team from last season, but the Los Angeles D-Fenders returned after sitting out the 2010-11 season. The New Mexico Thunderbirds franchise was sold and relocated to Canton (OH), where the team has yet to be named. Nine of the 16 D-League teams have single affiliations with National Basketball Association teams through either direct ownership or a hybrid model with the NBA team just running the basketball operations.

American Basketball Association: The ABA has announced it will start a new entertainment league this fall consisting of entertainers, directors, producers, business professionals, along with former professional and collegiate athletes. The new league is referred to as the ABA E League. The SETX (Southeast Texas) Mavericks have announced the team will not participate in the ABA or any other league for the 2011-12 season. The organization will remain intact and continue to look at other options for the future. SETX joined the ABA for its 2008-09 season when the Rio Grande Valley Silverados of the 2007-08 Continental Basketball Association were purchased and relocated to Beaumont (TX) as the Southeast Texas Mustangs. The team was renamed the SETX Mavericks for the 2009-10 season and moved to Winnie (TX), about 25 miles southwest of Beaumont, for the 2010-11 season.

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: The new LNBP team based in San Juan del Rio (Queretaro) will be called the Aguilas Rojas de San Juan (Red Eagles) when it starts play in the upcoming 2011-12 season. The LNBP is Mexico's top professional basketball league.

FOOTBALL

Ultimate Indoor Football League: The UIFL has announced a new team based in Lakeland (FL) will be part of the league's Southern Division in the 2012 season. The Southern Division now includes six teams-Lakeland, East Ridge (TN), Florida (Estero), Raleigh (NC), Rome (GA), and Tupelo (MS). An indoor team called the Lakeland ThunderBolts played two seasons (2005-06) in the former National Indoor Football League and went dormant after playing the 2007 as part of the American Indoor Football Association.

Indoor Football League: The former owner of the IFL's La Crosse (WI) Spartans franchise is part of a group starting up a new team called the Cedar Rapids (IA) Titans for the 2012 IFL season. The Titans would be part of the Great Lakes Division. The La Crosse Spartans will cease operations after two seasons in the league. The owners of the IFL's Seattle Timberwolves franchise, which changed its name from the Kent Predators during the 2011 season, report that the Timberwolves will not return to Kent (WA) in 2012. The owners will try to move the team to Everett (WA) for 2012 or 2013. The league's Richmond Revolution will not return for the 2012 season, but plans to return once a proposed indoor facility is completed. The Revolution joined the IFL in 2010 and was allowed to play in an outdoor facility for the 2011 season.

Arena Football League: The city of San Antonio appears close to being approved for an AFL franchise that would start play in the 2012 season. It is unclear as to whether this will be an expansion franchise or the relocation of a current franchise like the Tulsa Talons. The Tulsa franchise has been up for sale and was looking at two opportunities outside of Tulsa. A potential purchase by a group wanting to keep the team in Tulsa recently fell through.

Continental Indoor Football League: The CIFL plans to return for the 2012 season and hopes to again have six teams. Of the six teams from last season, the league lost the Cincinnati Commandos and Marion Blue Racers to the Ultimate Indoor Football League (UIFL) and the Port Huron Predators dropped out near the end of the 2011 season. The league reports that the Chicago Knights, Dayton Silverbacks, and the Indianapolis Enforcers will return from last season, along with a totally new team in Port Huron under different ownership. The Enforcers were a travel team in 2011, but have found a home in Fishers (IN) for 2012. Apparently, the former ownership of the Northern Kentucky River Monsters from the 2011 UIFL will be joining the CIFL for 2012 and moving to Muncie (IN). The CIFL is still looking for a sixth team.

Canadian Football League: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are expected to be homeless next season as their current stadium undergoes major renovations. The city of Moncton (New Brunswick), which has been seeking a CFL expansion team and will host a regular-season CFL game between Hamilton and Calgary later this month, would like the Tiger-Cats to consider Moncton for some of its home games in 2012. The Tiger-Cats are considering possible locations closer to home.

HOCKEY

Central Hockey League: Only 3 of the 14 CHL teams have announced 2011-12 affiliations with National Hockey League and American Hockey League teams: the Allen Americans with the Colorado Avalanche/Lake Erie Monsters and Dallas Stars/Texas Stars; the Arizona Sundogs with the Phoenix Coyotes/Portland Pirates; and the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees with the Florida Panthers/San Antonio Rampage.

SOCCER

Women's Professional Soccer: The Orange County Wave, one of a only a few mostly professional teams playing as part of the semi-pro/amateur Women's Professional Soccer League (WPSL), wants to eventually move up to be part of the WPS. In 2011, three other women's teams-the Vancouver Whitecaps Women, FC Dallas Women, and D.C. United Women-entered into affiliations with men's Major League Soccer teams and could be considered for the WPS in the future. Vancouver and D.C. United were part of the United Soccer Leagues W-League, while Dallas was part of the WPSL.

United Soccer Leagues-Major Indoor Soccer League: The MISL has officially announced it has added a Chicago-based franchise for the upcoming 2011-12 season that will start on November 3. The eight-team league will be split into a Central Division with the yet-to-be-named Chicago team, Milwaukee Wave, Missouri Comets, and the new Wichita (KS) Wings team. The Eastern Division will include the Baltimore Blast and three new teams called the Norfolk (VA) SharkX, Rochester (NY) Lancers, and Syracuse (NY) Silver Knights. The MISL had five teams last season, but the Omaha Vipers moved to the Professional Arena Soccer League and the Chicago Riot dropped from the league. In May 2011, the United Soccer Leagues organization, which was planning to start its own new I-League indoor soccer league for the 2011-12 season, entered into an agreement to operate the MISL starting with the 2011-12 season. Three of the five MISL teams in Baltimore, Milwaukee, and Missouri, along with the MISL's previously announced Wichita expansion team, were merged with the three previously announced USL I-League teams in Syracuse, Norfolk , and Rochester.

OTHER

North American Lacrosse League: The new minor indoor NALL will hold a player draft on October 13, 2011 for its five teams that will play in the inaugural 2012 season set to start in January. Teams in Charlotte (NC), Jacksonville (FL), and Wilkes-Barre (PA) will be joined by teams in two other cities to be announced next week. This past week, the league's Charlotte (NC) team announced it will be called the Charlotte Copperheads and the new team in Jacksonville will be called the Jacksonville Bullies. The Wilkes-Barre team was previously announced as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Shamrocks.

Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association: The four-team semi-pro MILA started its inaugural 2011 season on August 27. Teams include the O2 Outlaws (Chicago), based in Crystal Lake (IL), the Grand Rapids (MI) Dragonfish, Milwaukee Marauders, and the Columbus (OH) Lacrosse Club.

National Lacrosse League: The Boston Blazers of the indoor NLL will shut down for the upcoming 2012 season after three seasons (2009-11) in the league. The team has taken the preliminary steps to find new ownership and will most likely relocate to a new home facility if it returns in 2013. The NLL's predecessor, the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL), had a Worcester-based team called the New England Blazers for three seasons (1989-91). This team moved to Boston and played as the Boston Blazers for six seasons (1992-97). When the MILL was reorganized as the NLL for the 1998 season, the Boston franchise went dormant and was eventually re-activated for the 2009 NLL season.

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 2010-11 edition is available at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/leagues-teams-nicknames-the-leagueology-almanac-2010-11/15228513. Dan can be contacted at dankrieger@leaguesteamsnicknames.com.


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