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Yup, Na Koa is still in business, but is the NABL? (UPDATED)
September 28, 2011 - Robert Collias
Updates throughout, not great news out there for the North American Baseball League:
Na Koa Ikaika Maui is making good on its bills from the 2011 season, there is no doubt about that. The independent league baseball team also has a new vice president and general manager in local construction superintendent Dan Partney.
In a smart move — this type of thing should have been done, a lot, over the last couple of years, but wasn't — the team will have a booth at the Maui Fair this week.
One of the big questions for Na Koa — and there are others, trust me — is will the league they played in last season, the North American Baseball League, be viable in 2012?
The NABL website says that four teams are set to join the ranks in 2012 — the Long Beach (Calif.) Armada, the Orange County (Calif.) Flyers, the Omaha (Neb.) Flame and the Tucson (Ariz.) Toros.
That would help replace the four Texas teams that played in the league in 2011, which are all likely headed back to the United Baseball League from where they came.
The problem with the four new teams is, well, problems.
The Toros are currently locked out of their stadium, Hi Corbett Field.
Proposed use of Albert Field in San Rafael, Calif., presumably for the Flyers, has come under heavy community scrutiny although a one-year plan has been approved by the San Rafael City Council — the revenue to be generated for the city ($20,000 to $21,000) seems paltry to me. This link says the restrictions for the San Rafael team are tough, especially for an 800-seat park (this one says the city will make $35,000).
Omaha only keeps the NABL too far flung, a major hurdle for a league that had to shorten its entire 2011 season by a week this year because of money issues. And the Omaha Flame are locked in a litigation mess themselves with the stadium authority over the use of TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series.
And, along those lines, Lake County will clearly not be back in the league next season, its Field of Dreams simply a nightmare.
A little more digging brings up this from ballparkdigest.com, from this link on the Tucson situation:
There are some serious consequences here. For starters, the independent North American League needs all the franchises it can get; we're pretty sure the Lake County Fielders won't be back, and there are constant rumblings about other defections as well. The league website lists several new teams for 2012, but some, like the Omaha Flame, are pretty much a pipe dream at this point. There are ten teams in the NAL fold at the moment if you count San Rafael, but that's a little misleading: four of them are Texas teams who did not play against other NAL teams during the 2011 season. The real core of the NAL is down to six teams, and Tucson may be needed to keep things together for 2012.
And, today (Thursday), the situation in Calgary came to my attention — and the news for one of the league's flagship franchises is not good. The headline from the Calgary Herald is President quits, casting doubt on Vipers' future. The Calgary Sun headline said Last bat for Vipers?.
If Calgary is gone, it is easy enough to see NABL-champion Edmonton finding another league to play in without another team within 1,200 miles (Chico) in the NABL.
And the beat goes on.
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