Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 22, 2016 - International League (IL)

BASEBALL

International League: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the Triple-A International League will take on a food-related name as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Pierogies for one game next week.

Carolina League: Officials in Fayetteville (NC) voted this week to build a new downtown ballpark that it hopes will become home to an affiliate of Major League Baseball's Houston Astros in the high Class-A Carolina League. A non-binding memorandum of understanding was signed by both groups and the city now needs to determine how to pay for the ballpark.

Texas League: The Midland RockHounds of the Double-A Texas League were renamed the Midland Millionaires for three games this week as part of a "What If" promotion. The Millionaires was one of the nickname choices for a contest to rename the team known as the Midland Angels back in 1998. Other choices at the time were the Dusters, Derricks, Magicians and Tumbleweeds.

Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League officially announced a new team based in Fond du Lac (WI) will join for the 2017 season. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Appleton) of the low Class-A Midwest League will run the new team that will play home games on the campus of Marian University. The league's Waterloo (IA) Bucks team is run by the Midwest League's Cedar Rapids (IA) Kernels. The Northwoods League will also add a new team in Bismarck (ND) for the 2017 season.

BASKETBALL

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: Mexico's top professional basketball league known as the LNBP will again have 11 teams for its upcoming 2016-17 season that starts in October. Four teams called the Halcones Rojos de Veracruz, Gigantes del Estado de Mexico (Mexico City), Jefes de Fuerza Lagunera de Torreon and Pioneros de Quintana Roo will not return from last season, but four other teams have been added. New teams in Hidalgo and Mexico City will be added, along with returning teams called the Toros de Nuevo Laredo and Barreteros de Zacatecas. The Toros last played in the 2013-14 season and the Barreteros in the 2014-15 season.

Global Women's Basketball Association: The GWBA, which evolved from last season's Women's American Basketball Association, recently completed its short inaugural 2016 season with four participating teams called the Flint Lady Monarchs, Milwaukee Aces, Akron Innovators and Illinois Starletz (Chicago). Each team was scheduled for six games from mid-June to early August.

Midwest Professional Basketball Association: The MPBA is returning to Bloomington (IL) for the 2017 season, as the Lima (OH) Express is relocating to become the Bloomington Express. The Lima Express played two seasons in the Premier Basketball League (PBL) before moving to the MPBA for the 2016 season. The MBPA had the Bloomington Flex, also a former PBL team, in its first season of 2015.

FOOTBALL

Midwest Professional Indoor Football: The MPIF, which played a short 2016 season with four teams from the states of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, announced a new team called the Illinois Cowboys (Chicago) will be part of the league's second season in 2017.

Arena Developmental League: The ownership of a new indoor football team called the Dayton Wolfpack officially announced plans to be part of the ADL for the league's inaugural 2017 season. Along with Dayton, the league lists the Columbus (GA) Lions and Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA) from the 2016 American Indoor Football and a new team called the High Country Grizzlies (Boone, NC).

Can-Am Indoor Football League: Another new indoor league called the CAIFL plans to start play in 2017 and currently lists teams in a six-team Eastern Division and five-team Western Division. Two of the CAIFL teams are the Vermont Bucks (Burlington), formerly announced as a 2017 expansion team in the now-defunct American Indoor Football, and the Baltimore Lightning, originally targeted to play in the new Arena Developmental League. Other teams and markets include the Connecticut Chiefs, New Hampshire Brigade (Nashua), Reading (PA) Raptors, Welland (Ontario), Lockport (NY), Rochester (NY), Buffalo (NY), Cleveland (OH), and Glens Falls (NY).

Supreme Indoor Football: The proposed league known as the SIF, which was organized by the owner of the Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC) and failed to get off the ground in 2016, recently announced the league will start play in 2017. Details of the league lineup will be announced in a future news conference. The SIF is also part of an organization called the Indoor Football Alliance.

Arena Football League-Global: The AFL-Global, which has been involved in starting the new China Arena Football League, plans to move into Australia. A series of exhibition games will be held in Australia during 2017 with plans for a six-team national league to start in 2018.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The new AHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens that will move to Laval (Quebec) next season has narrowed its potential team nickname list from 12 to 3 names - the Laval Patriots, Laval Rapids and Laval Rocket. The Canadiens are moving its St. John's (New Brunswick) IceCaps AHL affiliate to a new arena in Laval for the 2017-18 season. The city of Belleville (Ontario), which lost its major-junior Ontario Hockey League team to Hamilton after the 2014-15 season, is considering renovations to the local arena to attract another hockey team. Belleville has been mentioned as a possible future home for the Binghamton (NY) Senators, the current AHL affiliate of the NHL's Ottawa Senators. The Senators are supposedly looking to move its AHL affiliate closer to home.

National Hockey League: The owner of the new NHL expansion team in Las Vegas is considering Nighthawks as a possible team name and two other names have been submitted for trademarks. The potential names of Red Hawks and Desert Hawks are apparently no longer under consideration. The owner wanted to name the team the Las Vegas Black Knights after the Army Black Knights, but that name could involve trademark and copyright issues.

Federal Hockey League: The FHL announced plans to add an expansion team in Winston-Salem (NC) for the 2017-18 season. This market has had several minor hockey teams in various leagues in the past. Most recently, the city had two different Southern Professional Hockey League teams called the Winston-Salem Polar Twins for one season (2004-05) and the Twin City Cyclones for two seasons (2007-09).

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS officially announced the addition of the Minnesota United FC for the 2017 season. The team, which currently plays as part of the Division-II North American Soccer League, will play home games at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium until a proposed new stadium is built in St. Paul. The Minnesota United FC, also known as the Loons, will not be changing its name and will join the Atlanta United FC as 2017 MLS expansion teams. The league will grow to 22 teams next season with Minnesota added to the Western Conference and Atlanta to the Eastern Conference. With the league's current D.C. United (Washington, DC), the MLS will have three teams with "United" as its name.

OTHER

American Rugby Premiership: The ARP, which is an elite American rugby-league competition sanctioned by USA Rugby, announced its 2016 season schedule that will start next month with five teams. The Boston Irish Wolfhounds, Boston Rugby, New York Athletic Club and Old Blue of New York will return from last season, along with the Mystic River Rugby (Malden, MA) club that played some games against ARP teams last season. Mystic River replaces the Life University Running Eagles (Atlanta) club, which is scaling back its schedule and will just play a friendly schedule that will include games against some ARP teams. 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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