Five (5) teams will compete in the Central Division: the Aberdeen Wings, Austin Bruins, Bismarck Bobcats, Brookings Blizzard and Minot Minotauros.
Six (6) teams will play in the Midwest Division: the Coulee Region Chill, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Kenai River Brown Bears, Minnesota Magicians, Minnesota Wilderness and Wenatchee Wild.
Six (6) teams will compete in the North Division: the Janesville Jets, Johnstown Tomahawks, Michigan Warriors, Port Huron Fighting Falcons, Soo Eagles and Springfield Jr. Blues.
In the South Division, seven (7) teams will compete: the Amarillo Bulls, Corpus Christi IceRays, Odessa Jackalopes, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, Texas Tornado, Topeka RoadRunners and Wichita Falls Wildcats.
Back a few years ago, the Alaska teams were part of the South Div. due to the ease of travel in and out of DFW. The Alaska teams co-op travel expenses for visiting teams coming to Alaska to play. Obviously the teams fly into/out of Alaska rather than their normal bus rides so really, travel will not be that big an issue other than cost.
For instance the Tornado who are somewhat centrally located in the South have only one fairly short bus ride to Wichita Falls of about 3 Hours. Other than that it is around 7 hours to Amarillo and Odessa or around 8.5 hours to Corpus Christi and Topeka or with Rio Grande Valley in the league a 10.5 hour ride to Hidalgo.
If the Tornado were to have games in Alaska it would be a 5 hour flight to Anchorage then a 3 hour bus ride to Soldotna to play the Brown Bears, or a 7 hour flight to Fairbanks to play the Icedogs.
For the Midwest Div. teams they are all fairly close to the airport in Minneapolis. Coulee Region is 3 Hour ride, the Magicians are in Richfield, MN a suburb that is just to the west of the airport and the Wilderness are in Cloquet, MN which is about a 2.5 hour drive.
Actually, more like a 3 hour flight to Seattle, couple hour layover and a flight to Fairbanks or Anchorage. (Don't think there are many direct, much less non-stop flights.)
You are correct. I had failed to change the dates when I did a quick search on the travel time. American's direct flight to Anchorage must be a seasonal flight available only in the summer months. So, from DFW to Anchorage would be a total of 8.5 - 9 hours then the 3 hour bus ride. To Fairbanks it would be 9.5 hours.
Also, one thing that I did not point out is that the teams traveling to Alaska are scheduled to play both teams in Alaska on the same trip and usually two, 3 game sets to help reduce travel.
I understand why the league left Topeka in the South. There have been some good rivalries built over the years with the Texas Tornado / Amarillo Bulls and Wichita Falls to a lesser degree. However, I believe that moving Topeka to the Central would have made more sense logistically and balance wise.
Move Topeka to the Central and you have 4 six team divisions. Not to mention that travel times / costs would have been reduced for Topeka as well.
In the South Topeka has travel times of 16 hrs to Rio Grande Valley, 13.5 hrs to Corpus Christi, 11.5 hrs to Odessa, 8 hrs to Amarillo, 7.5 hrs to Frisco and 6.5 hrs to Wichita Falls.
In the Central Topeka would reduce travel times, 13 hrs to Minot, 11.5 hrs to Bismarck, 8.5 hrs to Aberdeen, 6.5 hrs to Brookings and 6.5 hrs to Austin.
Still waiting to see what happens to the Tornado next season. Could've kept Topeka in the south so if the Tornado go dark they have 6 teams. Though it's more likely them being sold and heading back to North Richland Hills, we'll see what happens in Frisco.