Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 29, 2016 - California League (CalL)

BASEBALL

California League: The high Class-A California League will contract from ten to eight teams as it shuts down the Bakersfield Blaze and High Desert Mavericks (Adelanto) franchises after the 2016 season. Two new high Class-A teams will be added to the Carolina League for the 2017 season. One of the new Carolina League teams is expected to be based in Kinston (NC), which had a previous team in the league from 1978 through the 2011 season. The other market under consideration for a new Carolina League team is Fayetteville (NC), which is trying to build a new minor-league ballpark that would not be ready until the 2019 season. The Bakersfield Blaze had trouble building a new stadium in the city, while the city of Adelanto tried to remove the High Desert Mavericks from the local stadium prior to this season.

Eastern League: The head of the Double-A Eastern League stated that there will not be a Hartford Yard Goats team next season, if its stadium is not completed. Construction delays forced the team to play the entire 2016 season on the road and construction on the stadium was recently stopped in a dispute over who will complete the work.

Texas League: A group in Lubbock (TX) that is trying to build a new ballpark based on the potential relocation of the San Antonio Missions in the Double-A Texas League has failed to place a referendum on the November ballot for voters to approve a ballpark funding plan. The San Antonio Missions would only be available to move if they are successful in building a new stadium for a Triple-A team in the Pacific Coast League. The city of Wichita (KS), which lost its Texas League team after the 2007 season, has been mentioned as another possible relocation site for the Missions, but a new or renovated stadium would be needed there. The Texas League's Wichita Wranglers moved to Springdale (AR) to become the Northwest Arkansas Naturals for the 2008 season.

Southwest League: The proposed new professional SWL formally introduced plans for a new ballpark in the Bellmead area of Waco (TX) that could be ready by 2018. Waco is the first of six mid-sized Texas markets the league is targeting for membership and new ballparks. The league plans to announce its next city in about three weeks and reveal other locations every two to three weeks thereafter. The new Bellmead franchise has already announced a name-the-team contest.

Frontier League: The group trying to bring a Frontier League team to a proposed new stadium in Jackson (MI) is asking Jackson County officials for a two-month extension to obtain additional funding from the sale of naming rights to the stadium. A current agreement with the county expires at the end of this month.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA D-League announced its 2016-17 schedule and league alignment that will feature 22 teams with the addition of 3 new teams owned and operated by NBA teams. The Chicago Bulls will operate the new Windy City Bulls in suburban Hoffman Estates, the Charlotte Hornets will operate the new Greensboro (NC) Swarm and the Brooklyn Nets will operate the new Long Island Nets, also based in Brooklyn. The D-League's Bakersfield Jam was sold to the NBA's Phoenix Suns and moved to Prescott Valley (AZ) to become the Northern Arizona Suns, while the NBA's Utah Jazz moved its Idaho Stampede D-League team from Boise to become the Salt Lake City Stars for the 2016-17 season. In the 2016-17 league alignment, the Eastern Conference will feature a six-team Atlantic Division and a five-team Central Division, while the Western Conference will have a six-team Southwest Division and a five-team Pacific Division. Racine County (WI) is trying to build a new arena that it hopes will become home to the D-League team of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.

North American Basketball League: The NABL, which recently completed its inaugural 2016 season with a four-team NABL East and a six-team NABL West, announced four teams that will be part of a 2017 Midwest Conference. The four teams announced are the Chicago Legends, Detroit Coast-II-Coast All Stars, Vehicle City Royals (Flint, MI) and the Indiana Revolution, formerly the Portland Revolution.

East Coast Basketball League: The ECBL announced a team called the Florence (SC) Wildcats will be part of the league's Southern Division in 2017. A previous Florence-based team called the Pee Dee Pride recently played two seasons (2014-15) in the Premier Basketball League.

FOOTBALL

National Football League: The owner of the NFL's Oakland Raiders has reinforced his intentions to move the team to Las Vegas by obtaining a trademark for the Las Vegas Raiders name and releasing renderings of a proposed new Las Vegas stadium.

Elite Indoor Football: The proposed professional EIF announced another new team called the Carolina Cowboys, based in the Greenville/Spartanburg (SC) area, has been added for the league's inaugural 2017 season.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL announced the 2016-17 schedule for its 30 teams. Changes from last season include the Lake Erie Monsters being renamed the Cleveland Monsters, the Springfield (MA) Falcons moving to Arizona as the Tucson Roadrunners and the Portland (ME) Pirates moving to Springfield (MA) to become the Springfield Thunderbirds. Tucson was moved to the Pacific Division.

National Hockey League: The individual who attempted to build a 20,000-seat arena in the Markham area of Toronto for a potential second Toronto-based NHL franchise, is now trying again to get the arena built as part of a new casino planned for the Toronto area. Back in 2013, the city of Markham decided not to move forward on a proposed private/public funding plan for the new arena.

United States Hockey League: The owner National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild stated he would try to bring a Tier-I junior-level USHL team to a proposed new Racine (WI) arena, which is being proposed as the future home of a D-League basketball team to be operated by the National Basketball Association's Milwaukee Bucks.

Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey: The Cornwall (Ontario) River Kings of the Quebec-based LNAH announced the team will not be part of the 2016-17 season due to a lack of community support and the team has shut down operations. The River Kings started play in the 2012-13 season after the Windsor (Ontario) Wild moved to Cornwall.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: The head of the ten-team NWSL is considering expansion for the 2017 season, but a decision on the addition of any new teams would have to come in the next month or two. The league would like to add two teams at a time and is most interested in the West Coast with Los Angeles, San Francisco or Sacramento as possible locations. A new team in the South, such as Atlanta, would go with the league's recent Orlando Pride expansion team. Three current NWSL teams in Houston, Portland and Orlando share ownership, facilities and staffing with their men's Major League Soccer team and the NWSL is hoping more MLS organizations form women's pro teams. The NWSL would like to grow to 14 teams by the 2020 season.

American Soccer League: The ASL started its 2016 Fall Season last weekend with eight teams. The league had ten teams in the 2016 Spring Season, but the Delaware Stars, Icon FC Blues and New England FC did not return. The league added a new team call Atlanta Futuro FC for the Fall Season.

OTHER

Continental Indoor Lacrosse League: The semi-pro CILL recently started its 2016 season with six teams called the Chicago Outlaws, Circle City Copperheads (Indianapolis), Cleveland Demons, Detroit Coney Dogs, Grand Rapids Dragonfish and St. Louis Centurions. Five of the participating teams returned from last season and the league added the new St. Louis team. Teams from last season called the Grand Valley State Lakers, Lansing Hot Rods and Pittsburgh Octane are not on the 2016 CILL schedule. The league started as the Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association in 2011 and switched to the CILL name for the 2013 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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