Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 7, 2016 - Carolina League (CarL)

BASEBALL

Southern League: The ownership of the Jacksonville Suns in the Double-A Southern League announced the team has been renamed the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. The team has been part of the league since 1970 and was called the Suns for all but six seasons (1985-90) when it was the Jacksonville Expos.

Eastern League: The Binghamton Mets, or B-Mets, of the Double-A Eastern League announced the team has been renamed the Binghamton Rumble Ponies starting with the 2017 season. The name comes from the city's history with carousels and is a reference to a carousel horse. Bullheads, Gobblers, Rocking Horses and Stud Muffins were other choices for fan voting. The team has been known as the Binghamton Mets since it relocated to the city from Williamsport (PA) for the 1992 season.

Carolina League: A new high Class-A Carolina League team, which is to be based in Kinston (NC) starting with the 2017 season, announced it will be called the Down East Wood Ducks. Eagles, Shaggers, HamHawks and Hogzillas were other nicknames under consideration. The other new Carolina League team that will be based in Fayetteville (NC) is looking for a temporary home until a proposed new downtown ballpark is completed, possibly in time for the 2019 season.

American Association: The independent American Association announced its 2017 schedule that will again feature 12 teams aligned in 3 four-team divisions. The league had 12 teams last season, but the Joplin (MO) Blasters folded after two seasons and the new Cleburne (TX) Railroaders will replace Joplin in the South Division. The league's Texas AirHogs team, which played home games in both Amarillo and Grand Prairie in 2016, will be based out of Grand Prairie and will not play any games in Amarillo in 2017.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League plans to add a team called the Amarillo Lone Stars for the 2017 season. This team would be a replacement for the city's American Association team that is not returning in 2017. A ballpark lease agreement still needs to be finalized.

Empire Pro Baseball League: The Empire Pro League announced the addition of a Puerto Rico-based team for the 2017 season. Since negotiations to determine a home city will take some time, the Puerto Rico team will most likely play its games on the road until a representative city is selected. Puerto Rico replaces the Watertown (NY) Bucks team, which lost its ballpark lease after the 2016 season.

Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League: The summer-collegiate PGCBL announced it will return to Watertown (NY) with a team for the 2017 season. The league had previous teams called the Watertown Wizards (2011-12) and Watertown Rams (2013-14), but a low-level pro team called the Watertown Bucks played out of the local baseball stadium over the past two seasons.

BASKETBALL

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: Mexico's top professional basketball league known as the LNBP recently started its 2016-17 season two weeks ago with ten teams. The Halcones Rojos de Veracruz, Gigantes del Estado de Mexico (Mexico City), Jefes de Fuerza Lagunera de Torreon and Pioneros de Quintana Roo did not return from last season, but the league added three other teams. Teams called the Toros de Nuevo Laredo and Barreteros de Zacatecas returned to the league, as the Toros last played in the 2013-14 season and the Barreteros in the 2014-15 season, while a new team called the Garzas de Plata de la UAEH, based in Pachuca (Hildalgo), was added to the LNBP for the 2016-17 season. A proposed 11th team for 2016-17 called the Capitanes de la CDMX (Mexico City) is sitting out this season.

American Professional Basketball League: The APBL announced it will start its 2016-17 season next weekend with ten teams. The league had 13 teams last season, but the Bay Area Shuckers and Rockville Victors moved to the Central Basketball Association and the D.C. Funkhouse Piranhas, NoVa Hawks, Winchester (VA) Storm and Brooklyn Blazers did not return. The league added new teams call the Atlantic Coast Crusaders and the New York Crusaders, along with a league-operated team of free agents called the APBL United.

Central Basketball Association: The CBA has added the Rockville (MD) Victors to its new East Division of teams for its upcoming 2017 springtime season. The Victors had been part of the American Professional Basketball League since the APBL's inaugural 2012-13 season.

North American Basketball League: The NABL, which completed its inaugural 2016 spring-summer season with a five-team West Conference and a four-team East Conference, will add ten teams and a Midwest Conference for the 2017 season. New teams will include the Alamo City Aztecs (San Antonio), Southern Illinois Pharaohs (Carbondale), Chicago Legends, Indiana Revolution (Muncie), Vehicle City Royals (Flint, MI), Detroit Coast-II-Coast, Capital City Cardinals (Raleigh, NC), Huntsville (AL) Force, Texas Wolverines (Houston) and Birmingham (AL) Vulcans.

Midwest Basketball League: The spring-summer MBL announced a new team called the Springfield (IL) Panthers has been added for the league's second season in 2017.

FOOTBALL

Arena Pro Football: The proposed new APF, which was originally called the National Arena Football League, has merged with another proposed league called the Elite Indoor Football Conference. It is uncertain what the final lineup of teams will be for the APF in 2017, but just prior to the merger, the APF announced its first four teams would be the Birmingham Outlawz, Myrtle Beach (SC) Sharks, Savannah Coastal Outlaws and Eastern Alabama Freedom. The EIFC had listed its members as the Central Florida Jags (Lakeland), which were part of the 2016 American Indoor Football, along with three teams called the Florida Generals (Kissimmee), South Florida Barracudas (Fort Lauderdale) and Palm Beach Phantoms that all broke away from another proposed indoor league called Elite Indoor Football (EIF). The APF currently lists two other new teams called the Virginia Rough Riders and Carolina Wildcats.

Supreme Indoor Football: The new SIF, which is being organized by the owner of the Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC) team and failed to get off the ground last season, officially announced the league will start play in 2017. The Triangle Torch (Raleigh, NC) from the 2016 American Indoor Football announced this week that the team will be part of the SIF. A new team called the Anderson (SC) Gladiators, which was originally announced for the proposed new Arena Developmental League, has left the ADL and joined the new SIF.

Champions Indoor Football: The CIF's expansion team based in Bismarck (ND) announced the team will be called the Bismarck Bucks when it starts play in the 2017 season. The city had a previous 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.

Elite Indoor Football: The proposed new EIF announced a new team called the Tallahassee (FL) Tribe as a league member for its inaugural 2017 season. The EIF recently lost three Florida-based teams to the proposed new Elite Indoor Football Conference and prior to the addition of Tallahassee, listed only two other teams called the Savannah Steam and Carolina Cowboys (Greenville/Spartanburg, SC).

HOCKEY

Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey: The Quebec-based lower-level professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, started its 2016-17 season early last month with seven teams called the 3L Riviere-du-Loup, Assurancia de Thetford Mines, Blizzard de Trois-Rivieres, Cool FM Saint-Georges, Eperviers Sorel-Tracy, Marquis de Jonquiere and Predateurs de Laval. The LNAH's Cornwall (Ontario) River Kings did not return from last season after ownership decided to cease operations, but the Federal Hockey League added a new team called the Cornwall Nationals for its 2016-17 season.

SOCCER

United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The Kitsap Pumas club of Bremerton (WA) announced plans to leave the PDL after eight seasons and join the National Premier Soccer League for the 2017 season. The club will be renamed the Kitsap SC as part of the move to the NPSL.

North American Soccer League: A potential ownership group in Las Vegas is trying to bring an NASL team to the city, but would need to find a suitable soccer venue. When the NASL's San Antonio Scorpions announced the team would not return for the 2016 season and a United Soccer League team took over the market, there was a failed attempt to move the NASL's San Antonio franchise to Las Vegas.

OTHER

PRO Rugby: The PRO Rugby league, which played its inaugural season earlier this year with five teams, announced expansion into Canada will not happen for the 2017 season. The league was looking to add Canadian teams in Vancouver and Toronto, but the Canadian governing body called Rugby Canada changed its mind about granting PRO Rugby exclusive professional sanctioning in Canada.

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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