The Frontier League released the schedules for their teams today, but they look much different than last year’s. That is because the league has gone from 14 teams to 12 for the 2016 season.
Throughout the season, there were signs that the Rockford Aviators were faltering. Attendance was at an all-time low (averaging less than 1,000 fans per game), financial problems were apparent and in June, MKE Sports & Entertainment was forced to terminate its managed service contract with the team.
According to the Rockford Register Star, “Commissioner Bill Lee ruled that MKE Sports & Entertainment’s contract with the team violates the league bylaws because the owner of MKE Sports & Entertainment, Michael Zimmerman, owns multiple baseball teams in another league.”
Then late in the season, the Frontier League took over day-to-day operations of the Aviators, all but cementing the fact that the team would fold at the end of the season.
With the loss of the Aviators, the Frontier League was able to dismantle their travel team, the Frontier Greys, which had been in place since the London Rippers folded in the middle of the 2013 season.
This downsizes the Frontier League to 12 teams for the first time since 2011. The 12 teams remaining are: Evansville Otters, Florence Freedom, Gateway Grizzlies, Joliet Slammers, Lake Erie Crushers, Normal Cornbelters, River City Rascals, Schaumburg Boomers, Southern Illinois Miners, Traverse City Beach Bums, Washington Wild Things and Windy City Thunderbolts.
However, the stadium in Rockford won’t go unused next summer. Rockford was awarded a franchise with the Northwoods League, a collegiate level summer wooden bat league.