Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
February 4, 2013 - Frontier League (FL)
Frontier League: The Rockford Riverhawks of the independent Frontier League announced the team's new name will be the Rockford Aviators starting with the 2013 season. A name-the-team contest was held last month and the new name was selected for its ties to the region's aviation history. The league's Washington (PA) Wild Things team is working with the city of Bridgeport (WV), about 80 miles to the south, to build a ballpark for a new Frontier League team. If funding for the project can be worked out in the near future, the new ballpark could be ready for the 2014 season.
Freedom Pro Baseball League: The FPBL, which played its inaugural 2012 season with four Arizona-based teams in Phoenix, Peoria, Scottsdale and Prescott, plans to add a team in Surprise (AZ) and another at Salt River Field in Scottsdale. The league will take part in inter-league play with the new four-team Pacific Association during the 2013 season.
American West Baseball League: After announcing last week that the Yuma (AZ) Desert Rats dropped out for the 2013 season, the proposed new AWBL announced it will add a team in Las Cruces (NM) for the 2013 season. The independent Pecos League recently announced its Las Cruces Vaqueros team would not return for the league's 2013 season. The Vaqueros started play in the former Continental Baseball League in 2010 and played the past two seasons in the Pecos League. The fact that a new affiliated Triple-A Pacific Coast League team (Tucson Padres) was coming to nearby El Paso (TX) in 2014 was one of the reasons the Pecos League cited for dropping the Vaqueros team.
United League Baseball: Although the Abilene Prairie Dogs team will not be part of a 2013 season in the reorganized ULB, the league stated it will soon announce the addition of two expansion teams for the upcoming season. The league plans to continue with its other teams in Fort Worth, San Angelo, Harlingen and two teams in Edinburg for 2013
New York-Penn League: The Lowell (MA) Spinners of the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League plan to play one game during the 2013 season as the Lowell Lock Monsters in a tribute to the name of the city's former minor-league hockey team.
Mountain Collegiate Baseball League: The summer-collegiate MCBL has announced three new teams called the Colorado Bobcats (Golden), Colorado Springs Prospects and Northern Colorado Toros (Johnstown) will be added in 2013. The Laramie (WY) Colts will not return for the 2013 season.
Premier Basketball League: The PBL has listed a 17-team league alignment for the first season of the IBA-PBL, which is a merger of the PBL and the Independent Basketball Association for the 2013 spring season. Currently, the listing has 5 teams from the PBL, 11 teams from the IBA and one team (New Jersey G-Force) from last year's International Basketball League aligned into a nine-team Eastern Division and an eight-team Central Division. The PBL's Central Illinois Drive was renamed the Bloomington Flex under new ownership and the PBL's Columbus-based Indiana Diesels are listed as the Indianapolis Diesels. The IBA's Gary Splash is now the Indiana Splash and the IBA's Kenosha Ballers team is now the Wisconsin Ballers. Four of the nine PBL teams from last season, the Dayton Air Strikers, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Steamers, Chicago Muscle and St. Louis Phoenix are not listed. IBA teams called the Chicago Redline and St. Louis Trotters replaced the two PBL teams in those markets for the 2013 spring season.
Eastern Basketball Alliance: The EBA started its 2013 season last month and has added a new team called the New Jersey Bullets (Atco) to the Northern Division, which now has five teams. The Southern Division has four teams for the 2013 season.
American Basketball Association: The ABA has announced a new team called the Lansing (MI) Law will be add to the league's North Central division for the 2013-14 season. A proposed ABA team by the same name was previously announced in 2011 for the 2011-12 season. The city of Lansing has a current basketball team called the Lansing Capitals that played in the most recent spring and winter seasons of the Independent Basketball Association. Prior to joining the IBA, the Capitals were part of the springtime International Basketball League.
Bikini Basketball Association: The proposed new women's BBA now states it will start its inaugural season in June 2013 with only six teams-the Atlanta Peaches, Illinois Heart, Miami Spice, Minnesota Mist, Orlando Lady Cats and Philadelphia Diamonds. As of now, it looks like teams called the Chicago Crave, Los Angeles Ice and New York Knockouts will not start in 2013.
Arena Football League: The AFL has apparently terminated its relationship with the individual that purchased the Chicago Rush from the league about three months ago. The AFL operated the Chicago franchise last season while it sought new ownership. The league stated that the new ownership had not met certain guidelines, but apparently the league will run the team's operations to make sure it plays its 2013 schedule. The manager of Chicago's home at Allstate Arena stated that all proposed home dates for the Rush might not be available.
Professional Indoor Football Association: Blanchette Sports Holdings, which is trying to start up leagues in several different sports, is trying to start the men's PIFA. Teams would play a 16-game season from April to July. The PIHA lists 20 proposed team nicknames, but has no actual markets or timetable for the start of league play.
National Hockey League: A potential buyer for the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes franchise, which has been owned and operated by the league since 2010, was unable to close a proposed purchase deal by the end of January that would have provided for the city of Glendale paying the owner almost $15 million per year to operate the arena. The buyer still hopes to finalize the sale, but this has again raised questions about the franchise remaining in Phoenix. Other markets like Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Markham, just north of Toronto, have been mentioned as relocation candidates. Plans for a proposed 20,000-seat arena in Markham to attract an NHL team survived a vote this week not to rescind the project's financial framework. The overall project still has other issues to be resolved before final approval.
Southern Professional Hockey League: Some concerns have been raised that the Augusta (GA) RiverHawks might not return to the SPHL next season. The owner noted that team's ranking at the bottom in average attendance this season would be a factor to consider before committing to a new arena lease.
Major League Soccer: As part of an affiliation agreement announced last week between the MLS (Division I) and the United Soccer Leagues-PRO league (Division III), the New England Revolution of the MLS announced the Rochester Rhinos of the USL-PRO will serve as the official affiliate of the Revolution. Other MLS and USL-PRO affiliations are expected to be announced as part of the arrangement between the two leagues that will have all USL-PRO teams playing regular-season games against MLS Reserve Division teams starting in 2013.
United Soccer Leagues - W-League: The women's W-League has announced its 2013 schedule that will feature 25 teams aligned into a Central Conference, Western Conference and a two-division Eastern Conference. Of the 30 teams from last season, the Vancouver Whitecaps Women, Victoria Highlanders, Rochester Ravens FC, FC Jax Destroyers (Jacksonville), New Jersey Rangers and Northern Virginia Majestics did not return. The league added the Bay Area Breeze team that was part of the 2012 Women's Premier Soccer League. Five W-League teams underwent name changes for the 2013 season-the Hamilton Rage to the K-W United FC, the Central South Carolina Cobras to the Carolina Elite Cobras, the VSI Tampa Flames to VSI Tampa Bay FC, the New York Magic to the New York Magic - FA Euro and the DC United Women to the Washington Spirit Reserves, which is an affiliate of the Washington Spirit team in the new professional National Women's Soccer League starting in 2013.
Premiere Ligue de Soccer du Quebec: The PLSQ, or Quebec Premier Soccer League, which played its inaugural season in 2012 with five teams, announced a new team called FC Gatineau will be added for the 2013 season. The PLSQ is the first semi-professional league in Quebec and was organized by the Quebec Soccer Federation. The league is considered Division-III, which is the highest level of play in Quebec, and hopes to be an eastern counterpart to the Canadian Soccer League.
World TeamTennis: The WTT announced its 2013 season will again take place during the month of July and will again include eight teams. The only change from last season is the move of the Kansas City Explorers to the Dallas/Fort Worth area (Irving) where the team will be renamed.
Major League Lacrosse: The outdoor (field lacrosse) MLL the Rochester Rattlers will play its home opener against the Chesapeake Bayhawks in St. Petersburg (FL) on April 27, 2013. The league is considering expansion into Florida with the Tampa/St. Petersburg area under consideration.
Major League Ultimate: The Boston Bootleggers franchise in the new eight-team MLU ultimate pro Frisbee league is now listed as the Boston Whitecaps.
Pro Bowlers Association League: The new team-based PBA League completed the first event in its inaugural 2013 season last weekend. The PBA League consists of eight five-player teams competing in five events throughout the PBA Tour season. The teams include the Brooklyn STyLES, Dallas Strikers, Motown Muscle (Detroit), Philadelphia Hitmen, Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits, L.A. X, New York City WTT KingPins and Silver Lake (CA) Atom Splitters.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the "The Leagueology Almanac 2011-12", which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is currently available at www.amazon.com.
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