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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 13, 2014 - USL PRO (USL PRO)

BASEBALL

Florida State League: The relocation of the Tampa Yankees in the high Class-A FSL to Ocala (FL) is on hold after a proposed half-cent sales tax increase fell through. The city could try some other means of funding the new ballpark without a sales tax increase.

South Atlantic League (SALLY): The owner of the Savannah Sand Gnats in the low Class-A SALLY stated he would bring a team to Columbia (SC) if the city builds a new ballpark that is being planned as part of a redevelopment area. The owner could not commit the Sand Gnats for relocation at this time, but the team's lease in Savannah runs through the 2014 season. The owner received permission from Minor League Baseball in 2013 to explore the Columbia market. Investors for a new ballpark in Fredericksburg (VA) that will become home to the relocated Hagerstown (MD) Suns franchise plan to complete the land purchase in February, break ground in March and complete the facility in time for the 2015 season. The Suns will remain in Hagerstown for the 2014 season.

Southern League: The owner of the Huntsville (AL) Stars in the Double-A Southern League has received official approval from the league to sell and move the franchise to Biloxi (MS) for the 2015 season. The team will play the 2014 season in Huntsville. The Huntsville Stars have been in the city since 1985.

BASKETBALL

Eastern Basketball Alliance: Some teams in the EBA, billed as the Premier Mid Atlantic Basketball League, have started their 2014 season schedules. The league currently lists a six-team Northern Division with the Diamond City Playas (Wilkes-Barre, PA), Harrisburg Horizon, Philadelphia Knights, Washington Madness, Westchester Dutchmen and York Mad Ants; a two-team Southern Division with the Atlanta Purple Lightning, and Atlantic Crowns; and three travel teams called the Maryland Bayraiders, Metrowest Ballas and New York Primetime.

Bikini Basketball Association: The women's BBA plans to return for a second season in 2014 with at least four teams. Of the four teams from the 2013 season, the Miami Spice, Houston Inferno and Illinois Heart are expected to return. The Las Vegas Fantasy folded during the 2013 season, but the league announced the Atlanta Storm as a new 2014 expansion team.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: A new indoor football team called the Billings Wolves is trying to join the IFL for its 2015 season. The city had a team called the Billings Outlaws that last played in the IFL's 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Global Indoor Football League: The proposed Canada-based GIFL has announced the team names for the four Ontario markets that will participate in the league's showcase season in 2014. The four teams include the Guelph Gangsters, Mississauga Meltdown, Oshawa Onslaught and Windsor Waves.

Sugar N Spice Football League: The women's SSFL plans to add four teams called the Dallas Dynasty, El Paso Envy, Killeen (TX) Krush and New Orleans Oracles for its third season in 2014. The SSFL players wear two-piece uniforms and teams play 7-on-7 full-contact football on 50-yard indoor and outdoor fields. The league had six Texas-based teams for its 2013 season.

HOCKEY

United States Hockey League: The Tier-1 junior-level USHL announced in late November 2013 that the expansion franchise for Madison (WI) will be called the Madison Capitols when the team starts play in the 2014-15 season. The league had a previous franchise based in Madison called the Madison Capitols (1984-91), which was renamed the Wisconsin Capitols and folded after the 1994-95 season.

Ligue de Hockey Nord Americaine: The Braves de Valleyfield of the semi-pro Quebec-based LNAH, or North American Hockey League, moved its home to Laval (Quebec) and were renamed the Braves de Laval in late November 2013. The Braves de Valleyfield had joined the LNAH as an expansion team for the 2013-14 season.

New England Women's Junior Hockey League: The owners of six men's junior hockey teams in the Northeast United States plan to launch the new six-team NEWJHL for the 2014-15 season. Teams will include the Boston Bandits, East Coast Wizards (Bedford, MA), Hartford Junior Wolfpack, New Jersey Rockets (Newark area), Northern Cyclones (Hudson, NH) and Walpole (MA) Express.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League have a five-year exclusive right to bring an MLS franchise to a new football stadium to be built in Minneapolis on the location of its current stadium. The Vikings will play the next two seasons at the University of Minnesota. The owner of the Minnesota United FC in the Division-II North American Soccer League is trying to build support for a separate soccer-specific stadium in downtown Minneapolis and there is speculation the NASL team would try to obtain an MLS franchise for the area.

United Soccer Leagues - PRO: The Antigua Barracuda FC, which has been part of the USL PRO since the league started play in 2011, officially announced the team is going on an indefinite hiatus. The team was based in the Caribbean country of Antigua & Barbuda and has had financial issues the past two seasons. When Antigua Barracuda FC joined the league it was part of an International Division that included three teams from Puerto Rico, but those teams were dropped midway through the 2011 season.

Ligue Premiere de Soccer du Quebec (LPSQ): The men's Quebec-based semi-pro LPSQ plans to add a new team called the Dynamo de Quebec for the 2015 season. The Dynamo, which will be operated by the women's Quebec City Amiral of the United Soccer Leagues W-League, tried to join the USL Premier Development League but its application was blocked by the Canadian Soccer Association. The LPSQ played with seven teams in 2013 and will be entering its third season in 2014.

National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level NPSL announced the Inter United Football Club, based in Tukwila (WA), will be the second Seattle-based team in the league's new Northwest Conference for the 2014 season. The league previously announced two Portland (OR) area teams and another Seattle area team as part of the Northwest Conference.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the "The Leagueology Almanac 2012-13", which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is currently available at www.amazon.com.

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