The Month of May usually involves me checking up on the Independent Leagues and a couple brand new ballparks opened up this spring. The first comes from Sugar Land, a suburb of Houston, where Constellation Field (an appropriate naming-rights deal) was just finished. That now gives the Houston area a remarkable 22 stadiums on The List within an hour’s drive from downtown. What is really strange about the new home of the Sugar Land Skeeters, is the league that they play in. The Atlantic League has seven teams in the Northeast US (from Maryland to Massachusetts) and one in Texas. What is this the NCAA? I guess there will be many 7-game homestands against the same team for the Skeeters.
The other new stadium also comes from the great state of Texas, in the border city of Laredo. The Lemurs are an expansion team in the American Association and Uni-Trade Stadium is their new home. The franchised moved from Shreveport, where Fair Grounds Field is now off The List as it looks like they have no tenant this season. Heading North to the stable Frontier League, two new teams are welcomed and I guess you can say they are welcomed back. After a stint in the league several years ago, London, ON makes a return and so does Labatt Park, the oldest ballpark in North America still in use. Also, a welcome to Schaumburg, where after a year featuring many off the field issues, the city gets a baseball team back. Their stadium was renamed from Alexian Field to Schaumburg Boomers Stadium (that’s temporary I’m guessing).
There were a couple leagues that saw a bunch of changes, including the CanAm League. This is a league that always seems short on teams and they are now at an all-time low with only five franchises. Both Brockton and Pittsfield dropped down to a collegiate summer league. The Rockland Boulders have a new, one-year old ballpark and I’m wondering how long it will take until the Atlantic League tries to go after a team in their footprint. Given that the CanAm only has five teams, they have paired up with the American Association for some split scheduling. The other league is that of the atrocious North American Baseball League, one that was doomed to fail at the start for many reasons. It hasn’t folded yet, but I’m sure it will within a few years. In fact the league almost operates as two separate entities with the Southern Division (all Texas teams) never playing the Northern Division. Anyway, the only stadium news to take out of this is that Calgary’s Burns Stadium is off The List (Edmonton stayed on with a summer league team taking over).
And lastly, a couple more fringe leagues: Major League Lacrosse added two teams and both will give a professional tenant to a large high school stadium…the Charlotte Hounds and the Ohio Machine in Delaware, OH. In soccer, the Women’s Professional League folded and now a hybrid pro/am league was redistributed into WPSL-Elite. One note here is FC Indiana taking over 12,111 Michael A. Carroll Stadium on the campus of IUPUI.