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Outlaws negotiating return to Chico in 2012; Abilene in NAL

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North American League

The Chico Outlaws (independent; North American League) and Chico State have exchanged 2012 lease terms for Nettleton Stadium, but so far the two sides have not reached an agreement.

The Outlaws sent in a proposed lease that reportedly calls for lower rent and payments for use of the ballpark; the counterproposal from the university basically matches what the team paid in 2011 along with some changed terms for noise and fireworks restrictions. Of course, it being the beginning of February and the season slated to open in May, you'd think there would be a little more sense of urgency regarding the negotiations.

Now, to say things are chaotic on the North American League front would be an understatement. The league still has not issued an official 2012 schedule and its lineup of teams is not set. Things appears to be close to final in the Southern Division, encompassing six Texas teams. We apparently will see the return of Abilene Prairie Dogs, who will play at McMurry's Walt Driggers Field; the team was part of the old Texas-Louisiana League owned by current NAL owners John Bryant and Byron Pierce. Fans of the new Fort Worth Cats had better like a rivalry with the Prairie Dogs: a tentative schedule posted by the Cats calls for 40 (!) games between the Cats and Dogs. And we're guessing the rest of the Southern Division schedule will include a ton of direct games between Edinburg/McAllen (with both teams playing out of Edinburg) and San Angelo/Rio Grande. We have also been told there will be no direct play between the Northern and Southern Divisions, so you're basically looking at the 2012 North American League as really being two leagues playing under one banner.

While a six-team Texas division appears to be set, the Northern Division -- encompassing teams in California, Arizona and Canada -- is very unsettled. The Calgary Vipers, basically, don't exist: the team laid off all employees last fall and its website is gone. The website of the Edmonton Capitals hasn't been updated since the fall. The Yuma Scorpions were sold for 5 million shares of a penny stock. And though there are signs of life with Na Koa Ikaika Maui and the Fullerton Flyers, the only team that appears to have an aggressive ticket and promotional sales program underway is San Rafael.

RELATED STORIES: NAL sells Yuma Scorpions in stock transaction; Chico, Calgary offices closed; employees released

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