This month features a hodgepodge of updates with various leagues resuming. Most of the indoor football circuits start back up around this time, so let’s start there. At the top in the AFL, Utah and Chicago are out while LA and Portland are in. LA is interesting in that they are known as the “Kiss” with some really wacky uniforms. It is the band KISS that owns the team. What is it with rockers getting into the arena league? (Bon Jovi once co-owned the Philadelphia Soul) I won’t go through all of the other franchise changes in the lower leagues, only ones that have an impact on The List. In the IFL, an arena has reopened after two years of renovations. The Cedar Rapids Titans return back to the US Cellular Center (not to be confused with the other US Cellulared arenas in the Midwest). Chicago’s not able to get this arena game to stick as a different franchise in the area (Slaughter) folded. Now, the only main tenant in the Sears Centre is the little known Outlaws of the CILL (that’s lacrosse).
The CPIFL seems to have a good thing going with a midwestern outfit of generally stable teams. However, the KC franchise did fold and that also closes the book on the ill-fated Kemper Arena. Expect this historic venue to be renovated for other uses or sadly torn down. Meanwhile, deeper in Kansas, I was pleasantly surprised to find an arena I had no idea existed. In 2011, Dodge City completed the United Wireless Arena and this 4,220-seat facility welcomes a CPIFL franchise this spring. Welcome! Elsewhere, the home of the Oklahoma Defenders (located in Tulsa) got a new name: Cox Business Center. Sure, that sounds like a place for football.
In the PIFL, three teams are out, with two of them sadly taking an arena off The List. Albany got booted from the Civic Center, while in Lake Charles, one of the longer running teams in the Louisiana Swashbucklers, folded. That leaves Sudduth Coliseum without sports. Two new franchises came on, including one in Nashville. The Venom will play in the Municial Auditorium, where the Ohio Valley Basketball Tournament has been held recently. We also welcome back Sun National Bank Center in Trenton as they went a winter without hockey, but the expansion Freedom will play on the green turf indoors. There is a league in Texas (LSFL) and two franchise foldings meant we say goodbye to a pair of mid-size arenas in Abilene and Laredo. We’ll ignore the disshevled AIF and say hello to the X-League (no not the XFL). Five teams begin that startup league, along with two new stadiums. First, in Birmingham, the Alabama Outlawz will play at Bill Harris Arena. The other two facilities in the league (Lakeland Center and St. Charles’ Family Arena) feature teams that moved from the UIFL. Confused yet?
In baseball, Spring Training brought a new ballpark to the mix as the Cubs opened Cubs Park in Mesa. Their old home, HoHoKam Stadium, will be renovated this year and eventually house the Oakland A’s next season. While the arms race builds in the college game, only two new parks open and they are both under the required 3,500 capacity limit. UIC introduces Granderson Stadium, while in Seattle, Husky Ballpark offers a spectacular view in the outfield.