In Case You Missed It: Weekly Hockey Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 3, 2016 - American Hockey League (AHL)

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens plan to move its St. John's (New Brunswick) IceCaps AHL affiliate to a new arena in Laval (Quebec) for the 2017-18 season and announced 12 possible nicknames for preliminary fan voting to rename the relocated team. Nickname choices include the Laval 66, Laval A's, Laval Alpha, Laval Blizzard, Laval Cosmos, Laval Lynx, Laval Metro (Mets), Laval Patriots, Laval Rapids, Laval Rocket, Laval Saints and Laval Titans.

ECHL: A proposed new arena in Owensboro (KY) that was a possible option for the ECHL's relocated Evansville (IN) IceMen team has been put on hold due to the potential construction costs. After the 2015-16 season, the IceMen announced the team would sit out the 2016-17 season and move to Owensoboro where they would renovate an older downtown arena called the Sportscenter. This looks like the team's only option for now, but plans have not been finalized. A new team called the Evansville Thunderbolts of the Southern Professional Hockey League has already replaced the IceMen in Evansville.

Western Hockey League: The Frog Lake First Nation announced plans for an entertainment complex near Lloydminster (Alberta) that will include a 7,500-seat arena and it hopes it will become home to a team in the major-junior WHL. The WHL has expressed interest in the arena for a possible team, but it is uncertain if it would be a relocated team or whether the league would consider expansion into the market.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The USL's Austin Aztex team, which is sitting out the 2016 season due to the lack of a suitable home stadium, will most likely not be part of the 2017 USL season. The team has not been able to get any help from the city or a developer in building a 5,000-seat stadium. The team will keep trying and hopes to return in 2018. The USL is operating with 29 teams this season and, as of now, the new Reno 1868 FC is the only expansion team set to join next season.

Major League Soccer: The MLS commissioner confirmed the Atlanta United FC will be added as the 21st team for the 2017 season and the league will announce the other 2017 expansion team in a couple of weeks. The other new 2017 team is expected to be the Minnesota United FC, a club that is currently playing in the Division-II North American Soccer League. The Minnesota United FC, also known as the Loons, will most likely change its name from "United" prior to joining and the MLS has registered the "Minnesota FC" name. The Minnesota MLS team is expected to play home games at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota until a proposed soccer-specific stadium is completed in St. Paul. The league will then grow to 24 teams with the addition of the Los Angeles FC in 2018 and a proposed Miami team after that. The new stadium for the LA FC is expected to break ground shortly, while the Miami effort is still trying to finalize its stadium site. The MLS plans to eventually grow to 28 teams, but a timeline has not been set for the additional 4 teams. Cities like Sacramento, Cincinnati, Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio and St. Louis have been mentioned as possibilities for teams.

American Soccer League: The ASL organizer and owner of the league's Philadelphia Fury team wants to partner with a foreign team to add a Philadelphia Fury expansion team in the Division-II North American Soccer League. The ASL's Fury played an exhibition game against SD Eibar of Spain's top soccer league called La Liga. The Fury plays home games at a 5,000-seat stadium on the campus of Rowan University in Glassboro (NJ). As an NASL team, the Fury hopes to make its home at a proposed 10,000-seat stadium at Rowan University.

OTHER

World TeamTennis: The WTT started its two-week-long 2016 season with six teams. The league had seven teams last season, but the California Dream (Sacramento) and Boston Lobsters did not return. The league added a new team called the New York Empire, based in New York City. The WTT took over operations of the Lobsters for the 2015 season, but was unable to find local ownership for the team and decided to move it to New York City. The WTT will operate the New York Empire based out of the Forest Hills Stadium in Queens for the 2016 season.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2014-15: "The Leagueology Almanac" , 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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