Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 24, 2016 - Arena Football League (AFL)

BASEBALL

American Association: The head of the independent AA stated a proposed new ballpark for an AA team in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont (IL) could be ready for the 2018 season. An application for an AA franchise still needs to be submitted and approved by the league.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League will not move forward with a team in Joplin (MO) for the 2017 season, but could reevaluate the market for a future team. The league is still negotiating to place a team in Amarillo for the 2017 season with a proposed team called the Amarillo Train Robbers. The Pecos League had a team called the Topeka (KS) Train Robbers that is not returning in 2017. The league is also considering teams for Bakersfield (CA) and Adelanto, which recently lost affiliated teams in the high Class-A California League.

Atlantic League: The president of the independent Atlantic League stated the league could return to either or both Camden (NJ) and Atlantic City (NJ) in the future. There apparently is some interest by investors considering placing teams in these markets, but it would not happen until 2018 at the earliest. The league had previous teams called the Atlantic City Surf for 9 seasons (1998-2006) and the Camden Riversharks for 15 seasons (2001-15). The league plans to again have eight teams in 2017.

Eastern League: The Richmond (VA) Flying Squirrels of the Double-A Eastern League, along with the city of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, have signed an agreement to build a new baseball stadium that would serve as the home to the Flying Squirrels and the VCU baseball program. The owner of the Flying Squirrels moved the team from Norwich (CT) to Richmond in 2009 under the promise of a new stadium, but the city has struggled to come up with a plan. The head of Minor League Baseball made it clear in January 2016 that if Richmond did not build a new stadium, the team would leave when the lease expires at the end of next season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association: The investor trying to build a new arena in Seattle for the possible return of an NBA franchise, is still buying up property around a proposed arena site. The investor has until November 2017 to obtain an NBA franchise for the new arena in order to obtain some local funding for arena construction. Some Seattle officials are still interested in working with a developer to tear down the Key Arena, which was home to the city\'s former Seattle Supersonics NBA team, and build a new arena.

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The National Basketball Association\'s Sacramento Kings have purchased a controlling interest in the D-League\'s Reno Bighorn franchise. The Kings will now become the 15th NBA team to own and operate its D-League affiliate. The Reno Bighorns joined the D-League for the 2008-09 season and entered into a single affiliation with the Sacramento Kings prior to the 2012-13 season in which the Kings only ran the basketball operations. Under the new agreement, the Kings will take over all business operations of the Bighorns.

Universal Basketball Association: The UBA is planning a Carolina Division of teams for the upcoming 2016-17 season. Some new teams that will be part of the division include the Columbia (SC) Keep, Carolina Cavaliers (Columbia) and Charleston Celtics.

Tobacco Road Basketball League: The TRBL lists a new team called Atlanta\'s Dynamite All Stars that will be part of the upcoming 2016-17 season.

Women\'s Minor League Basketball Association: The proposed WMLBA, which originally planned to start play with its winter season running from October to December 2016, will now start play in May 2017 with its three-month spring-summer season followed by a three-month winter season later in 2017. The WMLBA will start with eight teams and current lists teams called the San Antonio Troopers, Houston Galaxy, Dallas Skyline (was Lightning), Cary Flight, Carolina Stars and Chicago Breeze. Previous teams called the D.C. Bounce, Houston Galaxy and Nashville Charge have disappeared from the team list.

FOOTBALL

Arena Football League: It looks as though the AFL will play its next season in 2017 with only four teams that will include the returning Philadelphia Soul, Tampa Bay Storm and Cleveland Gladiators, along with an expansion team called the Washington (DC) Valor. The five other AFL teams from the 2016 season will not return. The AFL\'s Arizona Rattlers have joined the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Jacksonville Sharks tried to join the IFL, but their application was rejected and the Sharks have talked about forming a new indoor league. The Orlando Predators recently announced the team has suspended operations, the Los Angeles KISS has apparently folded and the Portland Steel was shut down by the AFL, which operated the Steel during the 2016 season.

Indoor Football League: With the addition of the Arizona Rattlers from the Arena Football League and the expansion Salt Lake City Screaming Eagles team for the 2017 season, the IFL will again have ten teams. The league had ten teams in 2016, but the Tri-Cities Fever (Kennewick, WA) and the Billings (MT) Wolves will not return.

Arena Developmental League: The proposed new ADL announced the Florida Tarpons team, based in Estero just south of Fort Myers, has joined for the ADL\'s inaugural 2017 season. The Florida Tarpons started play in the 2012 season of the United Indoor Football League; played the next two seasons (2013-14) as part of the Ultimate Indoor Football League; moved to the X-League Indoor Football for the 2015 season; and switched to the American Indoor Football (AIF) for the 2016 season. A new team called the Corpus Christi Rage announced it will be part of the ADL. A team called the Corpus Christi Fury had been part of the now-defunct AIF for the 2016 season.

Indoor Football Association: The proposed new IFA announced a team called the Minnesota Stallions has joined for the league\'s inaugural 2017 season.

National Football League: The Nevada Legislature approved an increase in the Clark County hotel-room tax that is expected to clear the way for funding of a new 65,000-seat in Las Vegas for the NFL\'s Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are expected to present to the NFL a request for relocation in January 2017.

HOCKEY

Southern Professional Hockey League: The SPHL started its 2016-17 season this week with ten teams. The league had nine teams last season, but the Lafayette-based Louisiana IceGators will sit out the 2016-17 season due to arena renovations. Before sitting idle for the 2016-17 season, the IceGators considered playing an extended road schedule this season and also looked at the possibility of playing home games in other markets like Baton Rouge or Lake Charles. The SPHL added two new teams called the Evansville Thunderbolts and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs for the 2016-17 season. The Evansville market became available when the ECHL\'s Evansville Ice Men announced plans near the end of the 2015-16 season to move to Owensboro (KY). The Roanoke ownership purchased the SPHL\'s Biloxi-based Mississippi Surge franchise, which played five seasons (2009-13) in the league before going dormant. Roanoke\'s most recent pro hockey teams were the Roanoke Express (1992-2004) in the ECHL and the Roanoke Valley Vipers (2005-06) in the United Hockey League.

SOCCER

Premier Arena Soccer League: The PASL, which is the official developmental league for the Major Arena Soccer League, has added a new team called the Louisville (KY) Legends to its 2016-17 Great Lakes Division. The PASL had a Louisville-based team called the River City Legends for the 2012-13 season and that team became the River City Saints for the 2014-15 season before dropping from the PASL.

Major League Futsal: The men\'s professional MLF plans to add seven new teams for its second full season in 2017. The new teams will include the CF Diablos of Ensenada (Mexico) in the Baja area, the Oklahoma FC, Elk Grove (CA) Black Hawks and Anthem FC in the Western Conference, and the Virginia United, New York FC and Baltimore Kings in the Big East. The new MLF Women\'s Professional League will start play in March 2016 alongside the men\'s league. The MLF Women\'s Pro teams will play a limited-schedule exhibition season in 2017.

OTHER

Arena Lacrosse League: The proposed new summertime ALL, which cancelled a 2015 Showcase Tour that was to lead to an inaugural 2016 season, recently announced it is preparing for a start in 2017 and details will be provided in the near future.

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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