by Dan Krieger
August 15, 2016 - American Association (AA)
American Association: The independent American Association has three potential expansion markets on the horizon - Cleburne (TX) in the southeast portion of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Franklin (WI) in the Milwaukee area and Rosemont (IL) in suburban Chicago. Construction is moving forward on a new ballpark for a team called the Cleburne Railroaders and team owners recently met with league officials about entering the league for the 2017 season. An official application still needs to be filed prior to a league meeting in October when a decision will be made on membership. Officials in Franklin need to approve financing for a mixed-use development that will include a minor league baseball stadium for a proposed American Association team. The goal is to have construction start in early 2017 with a stadium ready for the 2018 season. A group from Rosemont recently met with league officials to outline plans for a 6,300-seat stadium for a proposed American Association team. The village of Rosemont and team investors still need to work out the details on stadium, but they hope to start construction in 60 days.
Carolina League: The city of Fayetteville (NC) has set a cap on the cost of a proposed a new downtown ballpark for a possible team in the high Class-A Carolina League. A memorandum of understanding with Major League Baseball\'s Houston Astros still needs to be signed that will allow them to operate an affiliated team at the new ballpark. During a recent public hearing, there were mixed reactions from residents about the new ballpark.
Florida State League: The Daytona Tortugas of the high Class-A FSL announced the team will be renamed the Islanders for a game later this month as a tribute to the city\'s previous minor league baseball teams called the Daytona Beach Islanders.
Texas League: The San Antonio Missions of the Double-A Texas League are reported to be considering Lubbock (TX) as a possible relocation site, if the team is displaced by a Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL) team in San Antonio. The Missions had been considering Amarillo as a possible destination, but ownership recently declined to sign a letter of intent to relocate at this time. The move of the Missions is contingent on San Antonio building a new downtown stadium for a relocated PCL team that is expected to be the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. A study has been completed, but not yet released, on a proposed new Triple-A stadium in downtown San Antonio. One city official wants the city to consider building a Major League style stadium instead of a Triple-A stadium.
South Florida Winter League: The SWFL has partnered with Japan\'s independent baseball league called the Shikoku Island League to make the SWFL the official tryout and showcase facility for players interested in the Japanese league. Tryouts will be held in November at the league\'s Dodgertown facility in Vero Beach (FL). A Shikoku Island team has played a partial schedule of games against teams in the independent Can-Am League for the past two seasons.
Empire Pro League: The four-team independent EPL survived its first season and plans to add two or four more teams for a 2017 season.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced the team called the Western New York Thundersnow, or WNY Thundersnow, will be part of its 2016-17 season. The Thundersnow is based in Niagara Falls (NY) and was part of the 2016 Premier Basketball League. The team will be added to the ABA\'s Northeast Division.
Midwest Professional Basketball Association: The MPBA announced an expansion team called the Eureka Blaze in the Peoria (IL) area will be part of the 2017 season. The league recently announced another 2017 expansion team called the Jacksonville (IL) Generals.
Champions Indoor Football: The new CIF team called the Centex Fightin\' Cavalry, which will be based out of the Bell County Expo Center in Belton (TX), was officially announced this week and the team will start play in the 2017 season. The team name has been shortened to the Centex Cavalry.
Elite Indoor Football: The proposed new professional EIF, which plans to start play in March 2017 with teams on the southern east coast of the United States, now lists four member teams - the Palm Beach Phantoms, Florida Generals (Kissimmee), South Florida Barracudas and Savannah Steam, which was a member of the now-defunct American Indoor Football in 2016.
Arena Developmental League: The ownership of a new indoor football team called the Dayton Wolfpack has signed a letter of intent to join the new ADL for the league\'s inaugural 2017 season.
American Hockey League: The AHL\'s Lake Erie Monsters have been renamed the Cleveland Monsters as the team begins its tenth season in 2016-17. The Monsters\' ownership purchased the AHL\'s dormant Utah Grizzlies (Salt Lake City) franchise in 2006 and moved it to Cleveland where it started play as the Lake Erie Monsters for the 2007-08 season.
National Hockey League: Officials in Nassau County (NY) are trying to get the NHL\'s New York Islanders to move back to a renovated Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. The Islanders moved to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season, but were not happy with their first season at the new arena. The Islanders can get out of their Barclays Arena lease in 2019 and have talked of building a new arena in Queens. Renovations at the Nassau Coliseum have reduced the seating capacity to only 13,000 for hockey, so additional seating would most likely need to be added for an NHL team to return.
North American 3 Atlantic Hockey League: The New Jersey Titans (Middletown) will not be part of the new Tier-III NA3AHL for the 2016-17 season. The New Jersey Titans were part of the Tier-III Metropolitan Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and were originally announced as an NA3AHL team when the MJHL disbanded after the 2015-16 season. A higher-level New Jersey Titans team will return for a second season in the Tier-II North American Hockey League in 2016-17.
Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey: The minor pro-level Quebec-based LNAH, or the North American Hockey League, plans to have the same eight teams return for its 2016-17 season. Teams will include the 3L Riviere-du-Loup, Assurancia de Thetford Mines, Blizzard de Trois-Rivieres, Cool FM Saint-Georges de Beauce, Eperviers Sorel-Tracy, Marquis de Jonquiere, Predateurs de Laval and River Kings de Cornwall.
Major League Soccer: A group of Nashville businessmen has formed the Nashville MLS Organizing Committee to compete now for a potential MLS expansion franchise rather than put city resources behind a lower-level team recently granted by the United Soccer League. The MLS is expected to announce next week the addition of the Minnesota United FC for the 2017 season even though its proposed new stadium in St. Paul will not be ready for a year or two. The Atlanta United FC will join as the 21st team in 2017 and the league wants to play with an even number of teams. The Minnesota MLS team is expected to start play at the University of Minnesota\'s TCF Bank Stadium and could change its name to Minnesota FC.
North American Soccer League: An investor interested in bringing an NASL team to the Orange County (CA) area recently announced those plans will no longer move forward. One concern was the cost of travel during the season, as the league would have only one other western team, which will be the 2017 expansion team called the San Francisco Deltas. In addition to reports of financial issues with the league\'s first-year team called Rayo OKC (Oklahoma City), the group that was managing the day-to-day operations of the team has left the organization. An individual involved in trying to organize an NASL team for Nashville has switched to the group trying to bring a Major League Soccer team to the city.
National Lacrosse League: The indoor NLL\'s new commissioner stated late last month that bringing a franchise back to Philadelphia was a priority. The NLL\'s former Philadelphia Wings had been around since 1987 when the team was sold and moved to Connecticut as the New England Black Wolves following the 2014 season. The NLL recently announced plans to move the league headquarters from New York City to the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken.
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.