by Dan Krieger
August 1, 2016 - Carolina League (CarL)
Carolina League: The Lynchburg (VA) Hillcats of the high Class-A Carolina League announced the team will keep the Hillcats name based on the results of recent fan voting on six potential team names, one of which was Hillcats. The Hillcats name received more votes than all of the other nicknames combined. Other choices were Derechos, Doves, Lamb Chops, Love Apples and River Runners. After a fan of the league's Myrtle Beach (SC) Pelicans went into labor during a recent game, the team decided it will hold a "Labor Day Night" in September and consider renaming the team the Myrtle Beach Storks for that game.
Florida State League: The high Class-A FSL team called the Brevard County Manatees, which will be moving to Kissimmee (FL) for the 2017 season, has announced six nickname finalists for renaming the team. Choices include the Florida Dragonflies, Florida Fire Dogs, Florida Mud Kickers, Florida Rodeo Clowns, Florida Sorcerers and Florida Toucans. The FSL had a previous team called the Kissimmee Cobras that relocated after the 2000 season.
Eastern League: The owner of the Double-A Eastern League's Hartford Yard Goats stated the team might leave the city if their new downtown stadium is not ready for the 2017 season. The team was forced to play its entire inaugural 2016 season on the road due to construction delays and related disputes pertaining to its stadium that was supposed to be ready this season.
Pacific Coast League: The Fresno Grizzlies of the Triple-A PCL will hold another Taco Truck Showdown this season during a game next month. The team will again be renamed the Fresno Tacos for the game.
Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (Mexican League): Some of the teams in the 16-team LMB, which is at the Triple-A level and is Mexico's top level of professional baseball, are having attendance problems and struggling financially this season. There has been talk about possible contraction by as many as four teams.
Desert League: The proposed independent fall-season Desert League, which plans to start play this September with four teams in Arizona and California, has changed the names of a couple of teams. The San Luis (AZ) Dorados and Yuma (AZ) Snowbirds have been replaced by teams called the Yuma Maple Leafs and Yuma Hammers. The other teams are the Somerton (AZ) Caneros and Imperial County Ghostriders (Holtville/Calexico, CA). The 2016 season will run from late September to mid-November.
Northwoods League: The 2017 Bismarck (ND) expansion team in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League has reduced its list of potential nicknames from five to three - Bismarck Bullies, Bismarck Larks (Meadowlarks) and Bismarck Flickertails. Bismarck Bigfoot and Bismarck Baldies were eliminated.
Universal Basketball Association: The UBA announced an expansion team called the Georgia Vipers, based in the Atlanta area, will be added to the Southern Conference for the league's ninth season in 2016-17. The league had a Georgia Vipers team in the 2013-14 season and that team has apparently come under new ownership. The Southern Conference will grow to six teams with the addition of the Vipers.
Women's Blue Chip Basketball League: The Omaha Nation Bison organization, which will have a men's team in the proposed 2016 National Basketball League of America, has applied to place a women's team in the Mid West Division of the WBCBL for the 2017 season.
National Basketball League of Canada: The new NBL-Canada expansion team announced for Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario) will be called the KW Titans when the team starts play in the 2016-17 season. Other names under consideration included High Techs, Angry Amish, IONs, Rim Rockers, Berliners, Quantum Leaps and Wrecking Balls. The eight teams from last season will return and the KW Titans will be added as a fifth team to the Central Division. The league previously announced a tenth team called the Cape Breton Highlanders (Sydney, Nova Scotia) as a fifth team for the Atlantic Division, but an official announcement has yet to be made for that team starting play in 2016-17.
Global Indoor Football League: The proposed GIFL, which tried to organize a couple of years ago as a Canadian league with four proposed teams based in Ontario, announced a team called the Buffalo Tribe will be the first of its participating teams when the league starts play in 2017. A team called the Lexington (KY) Horsemen had been announced as the league's first team, but the league never received a payment from the team. The Ontario-based GIFL will play seven-on-seven three-down indoor football with teams based in the United States and Canada.
Arena Developmental League: The ownership of the Richmond (VA) Raiders, a team that played four seasons (2012-15) in the former Professional Indoor Football League before sitting out the 2016 season after the PIFL folded, stated it would not be involved in operating an indoor football team in the new ADL.
Elite Indoor Football: The proposed EIF is a new league trying to organize for a start in 2017, but no teams have been announced.
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.
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.
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.