It's official: four teams -- the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Gary-SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones and Winnipeg Goldeyes -- will be leaving the independent Northern League for the American Association for the 2011 season.
The four teams will leave behind four Chicagoland teams in the Northern League for the 2011 season, presumably with Clark Griffith still as commissioner. An announcement of the status of the four teams is expected shortly.
“It’s an exciting day for the American Association,” said league commissioner Miles Wolff. “We’re adding four clubs that have excellent operations on and off the field, and it’s going to make us a very strong 14-team league.”
The league will feature three divisions for next season’s campaign, with Fargo-Moorhead, St. Paul, Sioux Falls and Winnipeg in the North Division; Gary-SouthShore, Kansas City, Lincoln, Sioux City and Wichita comprising the Central Division; and El Paso, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Pensacola and Shreveport-Bossier making up the South Division.
Presumably there will be a further realignment in 2012, when Montgomery County and Laredo are expected to join the league.
The American Association also announced that it would be expanding its regular-season schedule to 100 games, with starting and ending dates to be announced shortly.
The move is not a surprise: we're reported on it extensively in the last few weeks.
"This is an exciting day for the Winnipeg Goldeyes," said Goldeyes owner Sam Katz. "The merger will reestablish the competitive rivalries the Goldeyes once had with the likes of St. Paul, Sioux City, Sioux Falls and Lincoln, while maintaining the longstanding rivalries with Fargo-Moorhead, Gary and Kansas City."
“This is a very exciting and significant day for our franchise and fans.” said RailCats Owner Pat Salvi, “The RailCats will look to strengthen an already strong league and have an incredible opportunity to extend the reach of the RailCats brand further than ever before.”
“This is an exciting time for the Pelicans and for our fans," said Pelicans Field Manager Talmadge Nunnari. "Four new teams have joined the American Association with six championships among them. The talent level and competition will get even better in 2011 as our league is one of the most healthiest and competitive of all of Independent Baseball.”
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