Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Pro Sports Guide

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma has a population of 580,000 with one and a quarter million in the metro area. With the NBA Thunder arriving in 2008, OKC is now on the major league sports map. The city does provide other pro sports options, as well.

Oklahoma City Thunder - NBA (National Basketball Association)

The Thunder began life as the Seattle SuperSonics in 1967-68. The Sonics remained in the Pacific Northwest until the end of the 2007-08 season, winning one NBA title in 1978-79. The Thunder play out of the Chesapeake Energy Arena, a 18,203 seat venue completed in 2002. In 2011-12, the team reached the NBA finals before losing to the Miami Heat in five games.

Oklahoma City RedHawks - PCL (Pacific Coast League AAA Baseball)

The RedHawks have been around since 1962. The team is currently the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros of the National League. The RedHawks play out of the 13,066 seat Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, built in 1998.

Oklahoma City Barons - AHL (American Hockey League)

The Barons are the AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers. The team can trace its roots to the Nova Scotia Oilers that began play in 1984-85. The Barons have been in Oklahoma City since the 2010-11 season and play their home games at the Cox Convention Center. The Cox is a 13,399 seat venue built in 1972.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cleveland, Ohio Pro Sports Guide

Cleveland, Ohio sits on the shores of Lake Erie in the northern portion of the state. The 'Heart of Rock and Roll' has a population of just under 400,000, a far cry from the 900,000 in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. There are currently over 2,000,000 inhabitants in the Metro Cleveland area.

Cleveland has plenty of professional sports options, should you find yourself in the second largest city in Ohio. Three of the four major big leagues are represented with just a National Hockey League franchise missing. Cleveland did once have a team in the NHL. The Cleveland Barons lasted just two years, 1976-77 and 1977-78.

Cleveland Cavaliers - NBA (National Basketball Association)

The Cavaliers came into the NBA as an expansion team for the 1970-71 season. In their over forty years of existence, the Cavs have yet to win an NBA title. The team plays out of the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. The Q was opened in 1994 and can hold up to 20,562 spectators for basketball.

Lake Erie Monsters - AHL (American Hockey League)

The Monsters began life as the Denver Grizzlies of the IHL in 1994-95. The team has been playing out of Cleveland and the Quicken Loans Arena since the 2007-08 AHL season. Currently, the Monsters are the AHL affiliate of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.

Cleveland Indians - AL (American League of Major League Baseball)

The Indians were a charter member of the American League back in 1901. The team was first knowns as the Blues, then the Broncos and Naps before the Indians name stuck for the 1915 AL season. The Tribe has won just two World Series championships in over a century of play, 1920 and 1948. They have won the AL championship five times: 1920, 1948, 1954, 1995, 1997. The Indians play their home games at Progessive Field, a 43,429 seat complex opened for the 1994 season.

Cleveland Browns - NFL (National Football League)

It's complicated. The Browns joined the NFL in 1950. After the 1995 season, they were moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens. In 1999, an expansion franchise named the Browns began play again in Cleveland. Officially, the team has been in the NFL from 1950 to the present with a three year suspension of operations...

The Browns have yet to capture a Super Bowl championship but were NFL champions in 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1964 before the merger of the AFL and NFL created the need for a Super Bowl. The team plays home games at the Cleveland Browns Stadium, a 73,200 seat venue opened for the 1999 season.

Cleveland Gladiators - AFL (Arena Football League)

The franchise originally began as the New Jersey Red Dogs in 1997. After a stop in Las Vegas from 2008 to 2007, the team became the Cleveland Gladiators for the 2008 AFL season. Like the Cavaliers and Monsters, the Gladiators call the Quicken Loans Arena home.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Memphis, Tennessee Pro Sports Guide

Memphis, Tennessee must be one of the largest U.S. cities represented by the smallest percentage of major sports leagues. Just the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies are from the 'big four'. For one season, 1997, the city housed the NFL's Tennessee Oilers at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The team moved to Nashville the following season and became the present-day Tennessee Titans. However, there are other pro sports options if you find yourself in Memphis.

Memphis Grizzlies - NBA (National Basketball Association)

The Grizzlies began life as the Vancouver Grizzlies for the 1995-96 season. The franchise moved to Memphis for the 2001-02 season, retaining the Grizzlies nickname. The team plays their home games at the 18,119 seat FedEx Forum, a relatively new venue completed in 2004. The Grizzlies have gone without a championship in their NBA history. In fact, the only victorious playoff series came in 2010-11 when they beat the San Antonio Spurs in six games.

Memphis RedBirds - PCL (Pacific Coast League - AAA Baseball)

The RedBirds are the AAA affiliate of the National League's St. Louis Cardinals. The team has operated since 1998. Home games are played at the 14,320 seat AutoZone Park. The RedBirds have won two league championships to date, in 2000 and 2009.

Mississippi RiverKings - SPHL (Southern Professional Hockey League)

Formerly known as the Memphis RiverKings, the franchise was originally a charter member of the new Central Hockey League, starting play in 1992-93. The team won two championships in the CHL, 2001-02 and 2002-03, thus awarded the Ray Miron's President's Cup. The RiverKings switched to the SPHL for the 2011-12 season. Mississippi plays out of Lander's Centre, an 8,400 seat venue in the suburb of Southaven.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wichita, Kansas Pro Sports Guide

Wichita, Kansas is the largest city in the state of Kansas, with a metro population of around 650,000. There are several minor pro sports options in Wichita throughout the year, should you happen to find yourself there for a night or two.

Wichita Wingnuts - AA (American Association of Independent Professional Baseball)

The Wingnuts are the latest in a string of semi-pro baseball teams in Wichita, dating back to the Indians in the 1950's. The team plays out of the 6,400 seat Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, which was built way back in 1934. The Wingnuts began play in 2008 and have already won two division titles. As the full name of the league indicates, the team is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.

Wichita Wild - CPIFL (Champions Professional Indoor Football League)

The CPIFL and the Wild will start their inaugural season in 2013. The league consists of ten teams from the U.S. Midwestern states. The Wild will play their home games out of the 6,500 seat Hartman Arena. The Hartman is a new venue, completed in 2009.

Wichita Thunder - CHL (Central Hockey League)

The Thunder are a charter member of the CHL (new version), starting play in 1992-93. The team enjoyed early success, winning the Ray Miron President's Cup in 1993-94 and 1994-95. The Thunder came close to winning their third title in 2011-12, losing in the finals. The team plays its home games out of the 15,004 Intrust Bank Arena, another new venue in Wichita, opened in 2010.

Wichita Wings - MISL (Major Indoor Soccer League)

The current version of the Wichita Wings is now in their second season in the MISL. An earlier version played from 1979 to 2001 before folding. The Wings share the Hartman Arena with the Wichita Wild.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Buffalo, New York Pro Sports Guide

Shopping, the Bills and Sabres. If you're from the Canadian side of the Niagara River, that's what Buffalo means to you. Buffalo is a great sports town - don't forget the lacrosse, baseball and soccer!

Buffalo Sabres - NHL (National Hockey League)

The Sabres first entered the National Hockey League for the 1970-71 season, along with the Vancouver Canucks. The NHL club plays out of the First Niagara Center at the south end of the downtown core. The First Niagara Center currently seats 19,070 for hockey and was also home to the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in 2010.

The Sabres have yet to win a Stanley Cup championship but have been to the dance on two occasions. In 1974-75, Buffalo lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the finals and in 1998-99, they saw defeat at the hands of the Dallas Stars.

Buffalo Bandits - NLL (National Lacrosse League)

The Buffalo Bandits of the NLL also play out of the First Niagara Center. The Bandits have been a professional box lacrosse franchise sine 1992, when the league was known as the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL). The Bandits have been crowned champs on four occasions to date: 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2008.

Buffalo Bills - NFL (National Football League)

For now, the Bills play out of the 73,079 seat Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. There is much speculation that the team will move - quite possibly even to Toronto. The Bills were members of the American Football League (AFL) from 1960 to 1969 and won two championships in that league before it merged with the NFL. In both 1964 and 1965, Buffalo took out the San Diego Chargers to win it all.

Buffalo has been a member of the NFL since 1970. Although the team last played a game in the playoffs in 1999, the Bills were Super Bowl finalists in four consecutive years, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993.

Buffalo Bisons - IL (International League)

The current form of the Bisons baseball franchise has been around since 1979. From 1979 to 1984, the Bisons were classed as AA and have been AAA since 1985. 2013 marks the first year that the team is the AAA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Bisons play out of Coca-Cola Field, a 18,025 seat stadium just blocks away from the First Niagara Center. Buffalo has won championships in 1998 and 2004 but played their last playoff game in 2005.

FC Buffalo - NPSL (National Premier Soccer League)

Below the MLS and considered a tier 4 league, the NPSL and FC Buffalo have been in town since 2010. The team plays out of the Robert E. Rich All High Stadium which seats 4,000. In their three seasons to date, FC Buffalo has yet to qualify for the playoffs.