Hold on to your hats, Snakes fans. Big changes could be coming in the next 24 hours to the footprint of the SPHL. Remember that the "S" stands for Southern...:)
According to published reports in the Peoria Journal Star, the league is strongly considering expending to Peoria and Bloomington, Illinois. Peoria currently boasts the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, who told Peoria they're pulling the team from that city.
The Peoria Rivermen will move to the SPHL under the ownership of former execs John Butler and Bart Rogers, according to the story. Butler and Rogers will also own the Bloomington Blaze.
In a late afternoon email from the SPHL office in Charlotte, team GMs were alerted to a conference call to be held tomorrow to discuss expansion. One topic sure to come up is the financial burden this move will place on the teams as well as the logistics of the transaction. Currently the league reaches to Louisiana on its western side and Fayetteville to the north. How much $$$$ is this going to cost the existing teams? Is Augusta on board for 2013-2014...or not? Who wants to volunteer to go on the first Pensacola-Peoria trip? Yikes. Not me...haha.
The report also floated the idea that Quad Cities, based in Moline, IL and St. Charles, MO as other possible SPHL newbies. The idea of grouping the teams in divisions based on geography immediately comes to mind. But the footprint is getting mighty big.
After the call, I'll be talking to Jerome and, hopefully, commissioner Jim Combs for reaction and additional explanation.