Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 19, 2016 - Carolina League (CarL)

BASEBALL

American Association: Officials in the suburban Chicago village of Rosemont (IL) have approved funding for a new 6,300-seat baseball stadium that will become home to an expansion team in the independent AA. The current plan is to have the stadium ready by the 2018 season.

Pacific Coast League: Earlier this year, the owner of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox in the Triple-A PCL signed a deal to move the team to a proposed new Triple-A stadium in San Antonio that was to be completed in 2019. The new stadium appears to be delayed as San Antonio failed to commit any funding for the project in its 2017 fiscal budget. The arrival of a Triple-A PCL team in San Antonio would force the relocation of the San Antonio Missions team of the Double-A Texas League and this has led to interest from Amarillo, Lubbock and Wichita as markets looking to acquire a Double-A Texas League team.

Carolina League: The city council in Fayetteville (NC) has approved a financing plan for a new ballpark that is expected to become home to a high Class-A Carolina League team affiliated with the Houston Astros. A Fayetteville team is expected to be one of the two high Class-A teams being switched from the California League to the Carolina League for the 2017 season. It is uncertain where a Fayetteville team would play while the new ballpark is under construction. Kinston (NC) is set to receive the other new Carolina League team for the 2017 season and it will be an affiliate of the Texas Rangers. The Kinston team will use "Down East" its name in reference to Eastern North Carolina. Five possible nicknames were announced for fan voting and they include the Down East Eagles, Down East HamHawks, Down East Wood Ducks, Down East Shaggers and Down East Hogzillas.

Appalachian League: Fans of the Elizabethton (TN) Twins in the high rookie-level Appalachian League are trying to get the city to make improvements to the local stadium to keep the Minnesota Twins' affiliate from moving out of town. The team has been part of the league since the 1974 season.

Southwest League of Professional Baseball: The head of the Ventura Sports Group, which is organizing the proposed new independent SWL, announced plans to build a new stadium for an SWL team in Royce City (TX), just northeast of Dallas. The SWL plans to start play in 2018 with six Texas-based teams. The league's first team was recently announced for Bellmead near Waco.

United Shore Professional Baseball League: The USPBL, which recently completed its inaugural 2016 season with three teams all based out of a new stadium in Utica (MI), announced plans to add a fourth team for the 2017 season. This fourth team will eventually move to a new stadium to be built somewhere in the Midwest in time for the 2018 season. Earlier this year, the league organizer stated the long-term goal is to have 20 teams in 10 ballparks across the Midwest.

BASKETBALL

East Coast Basketball League: The ECBL has added a new team called the Hampton Roads Warriors, based in Chesapeake (VA), for the 2017 season. The team will represent the seven Virginia cities of Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton and Suffolk.

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA's Milwaukee Bucks have narrowed its choices to the three Wisconsin cities of Racine, Oshkosh and Sheboygan as possible locations for its proposed D-League team. The Bucks could make a decision by the end of the month.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new Philadelphia-based team called the Philly Cannons will be part of the upcoming 2016-17 season. The Cannons will be part of the league's new Chesapeake Division. The city had a recent ABA team called the Philadelphia Spirit in the 2014-15 season, along with previous teams called the Squires, Fusion and Colonials in 2004 and 2005. A proposed 2008-09 team called the Philadelphia Sounds never started, while a team called the Philadelphia Dragon was announced in 2012 as part of the failed "Pennsylvania Project", which attempted to add 19 different Pennsylvania-based ABA teams to the league. Also, the ABA's Charleston (SC) City Lions have changed their name to Lions Basketball for the upcoming season. FOOTBALL

National Football League: The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee has approved a hotel tax to help fund a new Las Vegas stadium for the NFL's Oakland Raiders, but a stadium site has not been finalized. The funding deal still needs approval from the state and it is hoped the state legislature will hold a special session before the November elections, so the Raiders can present relocation plans to NFL officials in January 2017.

Arena Developmental League: The proposed new ADL announced the Albany-based Georgia Firebirds as the league's fifth team. The Georgia Firebirds played the 2016 season as part of the league called American Indoor Football, which folded after the 2016 season.

Champions Indoor Football: An ownership group for a proposed new indoor football team in the Kansas City area announced it has received approval to join the CIF for the 2017 season. Additional details on the team will be announced next week.

Indoor Federation Football League: A proposed new 2017 league known as the IFFL planned to have eight to ten teams and announced various member teams over the past couple of months. These teams have either left the league or folded and it looks as though the league has folded. Some of the teams the IFFL's former members included the Lincoln (NE) Phantom Falcons, Oakland (CA) Blackhawk, Iowa Elite (Davenport) and Rio Grande Valley Storm (Hidalgo, TX).

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: The NHL expansion franchise in Las Vegas plans to announce the team's nickname next month and the owner says the name will include "Knights". Ownership registered names such as the Nighthawks, Red Hawks, Desert Hawks, Golden Knights, Silver Knights and Desert Knights to keep the final decision a mystery.

Federal Hockey League: The FHL announced it will add a 2016-17 expansion team in Cornwall (Ontario), which recently lost the Cornwall River Kings in the Quebec-based Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey. The Cornwall ownership selected Cornwall Nationals as the team's name. The FHL had a previous team called the Akwesasne Warriors that was based near Cornwall for two seasons (2010-12).

United States Hockey League: The city of Coralville (IA) and the University of Iowa (Iowa City) have agreed on plans to fund a new 4,000-seat arena that could become home to the university's hockey program and a proposed Tier-I junior team in the USHL. The arena is planned to open in 2019.

Central One Hockey League (CHL): The United Hockey Union, the hockey division of the Amateur Athletic Union, is forming a new six-team Tier-I junior hockey league known as the Central One Hockey League for the 2017-18 season. Six teams called the Colorado Junior Eagles (Fort Collins), Casper (WY) Coyotes, El Paso Rhinos, Ogden (UT) Mustangs, Oklahoma City Blazers and Springfield (MO) Express from the UHU's current Tier-II Western States Hockey League will be the initial CHL members.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS announced plans for an expansion draft in December 2016 to stock the league's new Atlanta United and Minnesota United FC teams that will start play in the 2017 season. The head of the MLS recently stated that there has been no decision as to the league's 24th team, which has been considered to be Miami. A Miami expansion franchise was granted to former MLS player David Beckham in 2014, but the league has been having trouble finding a suitable site for the team to build a new soccer-specific stadium. It was hoped that a new Miami stadium would be ready by the 2018 season.

United Soccer League: The USL is interested in placing a team in Baltimore by the 2018 season. The league's Wilmington (NC) Hammerheads could sit out the 2017 season and move to Baltimore under a new name for the 2018 season. There is also some interest from investors about bring a USL expansion team to Baltimore. If Wilmington loses its USL team, a team called the Wilmington Hammerheads could continue as part of the lower-level United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League. Also, the previously announced 2018 USL expansion team called the Nashville FC has changed its name to the Nashville SC. The team still has to decide where it will play in the Nashville area.

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL announced its alignment for the upcoming 2016-17 season will feature 17 teams. The alignment will feature an Eastern Conference with a four-team Eastern Division and a five-team Central Division, while the Western Conference will have four-team Southwest and Pacific divisions. The league had 20 teams last season, but five teams will not return and the league added two expansion teams. Of the five non-returning teams, the Brownsville Barracudas, Las Vegas Legends, Waza Flo (Detroit/Flint) and Saltillo (Mexico) Rancho Seco will retain their league memberships and sit out the season with hopes of returning in the future. The Sacramento Surge has ceased operations and the franchise will be relocated in the future. The two MASL expansion teams for 2016-17 are the El Paso Coyotes and Florida Tropics (Lakeland). A team called the Monterrey (Mexico) Flash, which sat out last season, has been granted another one-year extension on its membership as the team will also sit out the 2016-17 season.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2015-16: "The Leagueology Almanac" , which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is available for sale at www.amazon.com.


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