Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 3, 2016 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

Carolina League: Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers finalized the purchase of a high Class-A Carolina League team to be based in Kinston (NC) starting with the 2017 season. The Kinston team is one of two new Carolina League teams to be added after Minor League Baseball shut down two high Class-A teams in the California League. The second new Carolina League team will be based in Fayetteville (NC).

Atlantic League: The ownership of the Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers team in the independent Atlantic League has been suffering financially while operating the team and has asked Lancaster County to help pay its stadium rent. The county does not appear to be interested in a plan proposed by the Barnstormers and stated there is no funding available in this year's budget.

Desert League of Professional Baseball: The new fall-season Desert League started its inaugural 2016 season last weekend with four teams called the Imperial County Ghostriders (Holtville and Calexico, CA) Somerton (AZ) Caneros, Yuma (AZ) Hammers and Yuma Maple Leafs. The league's short season runs through October with teams each playing about 25 games.

Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League: After three seasons in the Michigan Summer Collegiate Baseball League, the Muskegon Clippers are moving to the more-established Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League. The GLSCL is one of the summer leagues under the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball that are each partially funded by Major League Baseball.

Western Major Baseball League: The ownership of the Swift Current (Saskatchewan) Indians in Canada's summer-collegiate WMBL announced plans to rename the team prior to the 2017 season. BASKETBALL

National Basketball League of Canada: The St. John (New Brunswick) Mill Rats team in the NBL-Canada has come under new ownership, which announced the team will give fans the opportunity to rename the team. The Mill Rats have been part of the NBL-Canada since the league's inaugural 2011-12 season. The team started as the Manchester (NH) Millrats and played one season (2007-08) in the American Basketball Association and two seasons (2008-10) in the Premier Basketball League before becoming the St. John Mill Rats in the 2010-11 season of the PBL.

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: Mexico's top professional basketball league known as the LNBP recently announced its 2016-17 season will start next month with ten teams. 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 three other teams have been added. Teams called the Toros de Nuevo Laredo and Barreteros de Zacatecas are returning to the league, as the Toros last played in the 2013-14 season and the Barreteors in the 2014-15 season. A new team called the Garzas de Plata de la UAEH, based in Pachuca, Hildago, has also joined the LNBP. The league had a previous team by that name in the 2004 season, but it moved to Veracruz after one season. A proposed 11th team for 2016-17 called the Capitanes de la CDMX (Mexico City) will sit out this season.

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA's Washington Wizards unveiled plans for a new 5,000-seat arena in Washington (DC) that will serve as its practice facility, as well as home to the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association and most likely a proposed future D-League team. The arena is planned to open in the fall of 2018.

Independent Basketball Association: The IBA has started its 2016 winter season with six participating teams: the Grand Rapids (MI) Fusion, Illinois Hoopville Warriors (Belleville), Kenosha (WI) Ballers, Lansing (MI) Capitals, St. Louis Trotters and the new Milwaukee Falcons. The IBA has been around since its first winter season in 2011 and plays both a winter and spring season. FOOTBALL

Champions Indoor Football: The CIF announced an expansion team has been awarded to Bismarck (ND) for the 2017 season. The city had a team called the Bismarck Blaze in the 2000 season of a former league called the Indoor Football League and a team called the Bismarck Roughriders for two seasons (2002-03) in the former National Indoor Football League. A proposed 2001 team called the Bismarck Bandits was planned for the arenafootball2, but a Mountain Division of teams never developed. The league also announced the Muskegon-based West Michigan Ironmen team has joined the CIF after playing the 2016 season as part of the now-defunct American Indoor Football.

Can-Am Indoor Football League: The proposed new CAIFL has added some new team names to its lineup of teams for the inaugural 2017 season. These names include the Buffalo Blitz, Lockport (NY) Lightning, Rochester (NY) Kings and Steel City Patriots.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators have purchased its Binghamton (NY) Senators AHL affiliate and announced plans to move the team to Belleville (Ontario) where the team is expected to be called the Belleville Senators starting with the 2017-18 season. The Binghamton Senators have been part of the AHL since the 2002-03 season. Binghamton officials stated that an unnamed AHL team has already committed to move to Binghamton for the 2017-18 season. The AHL's Albany Devils and Bridgeport Sound Tigers have been mentioned as possible relocation candidates. Belleville had been the longtime home of the Belleville Bulls in the major-junior Ontario Hockey League until the team moved to become the Hamilton (Ontario) Bulldogs for the 2015-16 season. Also, the owner of the NHL's new Las Vegas franchise announced the team will most likely not launch an AHL affiliate when it starts play in the 2017-18 season, but will consider sharing an AHL affiliate with another NHL team until it has enough players to stock an AHL team.

Western States Hockey League: The junior-level WSHL, which operates under the United Hockey Union of the Amateur Athletic Union, has shut down its Whitefish (MT) Wolverines team after two seasons in the league. The WSHL plans to bring a new team to Whitefish under new ownership for the 2017-18 season.

Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League: The new Ontario-based CPJHL, which operates under the United Hockey Union of the Amateur Athletic Union, has lost another team and is down to eight teams for its 2017-18 season. The Burk's Falls Bruins announced the team was unable to develop a roster of players, so it will delay its start until next season.

SOCCER

United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The amateur-level PDL announced a team called the Wilmington (NC) Hammerheads FC has been awarded a franchise for the 2017 season. The team will have the same owner who operated the Wilmington Hammerheads team in the 2016 Division-III professional United Soccer League (USL). The USL version of the Wilmington Hammerheads team has ceased operations. The Wilmington Hammerheads started play in 1996 as a Division-III pro team and after sitting out the 2010 season, the team became part of the USL PRO (previous name of the USL) for the 2011 season. The Hammerheads were the USL affiliate for Major League Soccer's New York City FC in 2016.

Major League Soccer: The ownership group of the proposed Nashville SC, which plans to start play in 2018 as part of the Division-III United Soccer League, is forming an alliance with the group trying to build a soccer-specific stadium for a potential future MLS expansion team. Once the Nashville SC is established in the USL, the city of Nashville would try to become one of the markets added by the MLS as part of its next phase of expansion. The San Diego market is moving forward with trying to bring an MLS team to a proposed new soccer stadium on the site of Qualcomm Stadium, which is home to the National Football League's San Diego Chargers. The proposed new stadium would be shared by an MLS team and the San Diego State University football program. The Qualcomm Stadium site would only be available if the Chargers obtain a new stadium elsewhere, or if the team decides to move to Los Angeles to share the Los Angeles Rams' new stadium.

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL's Missouri Comets team, which is based in Independence (MO) near Kansas City, has changed its name to the Kansas City Comets for the 2016-17 season. Kansas City has had two previous indoor teams called the Kansas City Comets, each having played in different versions of leagues called the Major Indoor Soccer League. This version of the Comets started played as an expansion team in the 2010-11 season of the MASL.

OTHER

Super Rugby: Officials with the international 18-team Super Rugby competition have expressed interest in placing a team in the United States. The men's rugby union competition has five teams each in New Zealand and Australia, six teams in South Africa and one team each in Japan and Australia. The Super Rugby season generally runs from late February to early August.

National Lacrosse League: The indoor professional NLL recently announced the schedule for its upcoming 2016-17 season that will feature the same nine teams as last season. The Eastern Division has the Buffalo Bandits, Georgia Swarm (Atlanta), New England Black Wolves (Uncasville, CT), Rochester Knighthawks and Toronto Rock, while the Western Division includes the Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado Mammoth, Saskatchewan Rush (Saskatoon) and Vancouver Stealth. The season starts in late December 2016 and runs through April 2017 with each team playing an 18-game schedule.

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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