After a hectic week, officials with the independent North American League laid out a 2012 game plan, with the Sonoma County Grapes a road team and the Hawaii Stars playing in Hilo.
Forced into finding two new teams to ensure a four-team Northern Division for the upcoming season after the departure of the Yuma Panthers and Orange County Flyers, the owners of the San Rafael Pacifics and Maui Na Koa Ikaika each added a squad. The Pacifics will run the Sonoma County Grapes as a road team before the entire season while working on a permanent home for the 2013 season, while Maui owners will run the Hawaii Stars out of Wong Stadium in Hilo.
That gives the NAL 10 teams for 2012: the six Texas teams (five with permanent homes, one a travel squad) are run separately by John Bryant and Byron Pierce.
The existing NAL schedule won't change. The Pacifics and Na Koa Ikaika will keep their scheduled home games, with the Grapes replacing the Flyers in the schedule and the Stars replacing the Panthers.
It's a crapshoot: by taking on the added expense of two teams pretty much consigned to losing money this season, the Maui and San Rafael ownership are placing a huge bet that the league can find some new markets for 2013 and possibly attract some new investors. California is a hard market for indy ball; neither the Western Baseball League nor the Golden Baseball League could find a sustainable business model.
RELATED STORIES: New for 2012: Hawaii Stars; New for 2012: Sonoma County Grapes; Yuma, OC out of NAL; two replacements in the works; Fullerton Flyers returning in 2012?; Fullerton, Flyers enter exclusive negotiating period for new ballpark; More on Fullerton ballpark proposal; Diamond Sports walks away from North American League management; North American League at 10 teams for 2012; Chico Outlaws season scrapped; Edmonton out of North American League; Outlaws negotiating return to Chico in 2012; Abilene in NAL
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