John Bryant, co-owner of independent United League Baseball, says his circuit will operate in six cities in 2013, with two expansion franchises on the way.
Right now the ULB consists of the Fort Worth Cats, San Angelo Colts, Edinburg Roadrunners and Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings. Bryant told the Abilene Reporter-News he expects to add two more teams in two more markets for the 2013 season, though Abilene won't be one of the two markets. Going with four teams is always an option, however.
As you'll recall, the ULB was part of the ill-fated North American League, which sought to create a national independent league with teams in Texas, Arizona, California, Canada and Illinois. That effort failed, and right now only the four ULB teams and three Western teams (playing under the Pacific Association banner) are left. To some extent or another every team under the NAL banner suffered some sort of impact, but the former ULB teams owners by Bryant and Byron Pierce seemed to come out relatively unscathed. Still, there were some financial issues in the league in 2012, with the Abilene Prairie Dogs and McAllen Thunder folding before the end of the season, and some bills still unpaid. The issue: the league's need to finance a purchase of LaGrave Field, the home of the Fort Worth Cats.
Texas is perhaps the most competitive market for independent baseball, with three leagues -- American Association, Atlantic League and United League Baseball -- fighting it out for markets.
RELATED STORIES: League: No pro ball in Abilene this season; Edinburg to negotiate new lease with RoadRunners ownership, passes on American Association; Sale of LaGrave Field finally goes through; NAL shuts down McAllen, Abilene team early; NAL lays out game plan for 2012; New ballpark on tap for Abilene
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