Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 21, 2016 - Pacific Coast League (PCL)

BASEBALL

Carolina League: The new high Class-A Carolina League team to be based in Fayetteville (NC) announced it will be called the Buies Creek Astros when it starts play in the 2017 season. The team also announced it will play home games for the 2017 and 2018 seasons at the baseball stadium on the campus of Campbell University until a new downtown stadium is completed.

Pacific Coast League: The New Orleans Zephyrs of the Triple-A PCL announced the team\'s new name will be the New Orleans Baby Cakes starting with the 2017 season. The new name won out over six other finalists: Tailgators, Night Owls, King Cakes, Red Eyes, Po\'boys and Crawfish. The name is a tribute to the traditional Mardi Gras king cakes that contain a small plastic baby symbolizing prosperity to the finder of the trinket. The New Orleans Zephyrs name had been around since the former Denver Zephyrs team moved to the city for the 1993 season.

Pecos League: Officials in Potter County (TX) have decided to put a two-week hold on the decision to allow a Pecos League team called the Amarillo Lone Stars to use Amarillo\'s Potter County Memorial Stadium for the 2017 season. The head of the Pecos League agreed on a sub-lease of the stadium with the American Association\'s Texas AirHogs team that played some games in Amarillo during the 2016 season, but has decided to play all 2017 games in Grand Prairie for the 2017 season.

Empire Pro Baseball League: The independent Empire Pro League is negotiating with the city of Plattsburgh (NY) to become home to a proposed 2017 team to be called the Plattsburgh Red Birds. The league had four teams in its inaugural 2016 season, but teams called the Watertown (NY) Bucks and New Hampshire Wild are no longer members. The league recently announced a new Puerto Rico Islanders team and stated it would like to grow to eight teams for 2017.

BASKETBALL

Universal Basketball Association: One of the new UBA teams for the 2016-17 season is the Dayton Sharks. Over the past several seasons, the UBA has had Dayton-based teams called the Ohio Flash, Gem City Slam and Dayton Knights.

Women\'s Blue Chip Basketball League: The Baltimore Cougars Legends basketball program announced plans to operate a WBCBL team for the 2017 season. The WBCBL is a premier professional development basketball league that plays a spring/summer schedule. National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada recently announced its 2016-17 season schedule that will feature ten teams playing from late December 2016 through April 2017. Last season, the league had eight teams in four-team Central and Atlantic divisions, but it has added the KW Titans (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario) to the Central Division and the Cape Breton Highlanders (Sydney, Nova Scotia) to the Atlantic Division. In addition, the St. John Mill Rats (New Brunswick) were renamed the St. John Riptide for the 2016-17 season.

North of the Border Basketball League: The Advanced Division of the elite-level men\'s NBBL recently completed its 2016 fall season with eight teams. The seven-week season featured all games played at Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton (Ontario). The league, which also features a Recreational Division, also plays a summer season that runs from mid-May to early July.

FOOTBALL

Supreme Indoor Football: The proposed new SIF has joined forces with the proposed new league called the Elite Indoor Football for the 2017 season. It looks like the three remaining EIF teams - the Florida Tribe (Tallahassee), Savannah Steam and Carolina Cowboys (Greenville/Spartanburg, SC) - will now be part of the SIF. Prior to the EIF announcement, the SIF listed five member teams.

Arena Pro Football: The proposed new APF, which was originally called the National Arena Football League, announced an alliance with the new Can-Am Indoor Football League for the 2017 season. Each league will play their own independent schedules, but representatives from each league will participate in an end-of-the-season Arena Football Challenge Cup in June 2017. The APF has most teams based in the southeastern United States, while the CAIFL has most teams in the northeastern United States.

National Arena League: The proposed new Arena Developmental League has been re-branded as the National Arena League and six of seven previously listed ADL teams are now part of the NAL. The ADL teams called the Columbus (GA) Lions, Corpus Christi Rage, Georgia Firebirds (Albany), Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA), High Country Grizzlies (Boone, NC) and Dayton Wolfpack are now part of the NAL. A previously announced ADL team for Northern Kentucky is not listed as part of the NAL. The Jacksonville Sharks, which spent the past seven seasons (2010-16) in the Arena Football League, have also joined the new NAL. The NAL plans to have at least eight teams when it starts play in 2017 and hopes to add several more teams by the 2018 season. A Mexico-based team called the Monterrey Steel is also expected to join the new NAL for the 2017 season.

Champions Indoor Football: The Chicago Eagles of the CIF announced the team will sit out the 2017 season as it tries to restructure its organization for a return in 2018. The Chicago Eagles were a 2016 CIF expansion team. The Chicago Eagles evolved from a proposed team called the Gary (IN) Dawgs that never started play for the CIF\'s first season in 2015. One of the owners of the Gary Dawgs backed out, so the team was reorganized as the Illiana Eagles for the 2016 season. Prior to 2016 season, the team changed to the Chicago Eagles based out of the Pavilion on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Arena Football League: The AFL plans to add a new team in Baltimore that would give the league five teams for the 2017 season. The Baltimore AFL franchise will be owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which also owns the National Basketball Association\'s Washington Wizards, the National Hockey League\'s Washington Capitals, the Women\'s National Basketball Association\'s Washington Mystics and another new 2017 AFL expansion team called the Washington Valor. The AFL has expressed an interest in placing a franchise in St. Louis, which was abandoned by the National Football League. A team called the St. Louis Stampede played two seasons (1995-96) in the original version of the AFL that filed for bankruptcy after the 2008 season.

HOCKEY

Western States Hockey League: The Vail (CO) Powder Hounds team in the junior-level WSHL has been removed for the remainder of the 2016-17 season. The team played as the Breckenridge (CO) Bucks in the 2015-16 Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League and decided to switch to the WSHL. The team then moved to Vail prior to the 2016-17 season after the RMJHL decided to place another team in Breckenridge.

ECHL: The city of Portland (ME) is optimistic investors will be found to bring an ECHL franchise to the city in time for the 2017-18 season. Investors would need to sign an arena lease agreement by mid-December in order to present a franchise application to the ECHL owners at their January 2017 meeting. The owner of the ECHL expansion team called the Worcester (MA) Railers HC is moving forward with the team for the 2017-18 season, even though the Railers might eventually have to share its home arena with the hockey program at The College of Holy Cross.

United States Hockey League: The city of Racine (WI) is trying to build a new arena that could become home to a team in the National Basketball Association D-League, but the arena could move forward without a basketball team because a team in the Tier-I junior-level USHL is the main target for the arena.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: A group called SC STL has announced plans for a proposed new 20,000-seat soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis for a potential MLS expansion team. Plans call for the group to also purchase the St. Louis FC of the United Soccer League, along with the local St. Louis Scott Gallagher youth soccer club and a local soccer park that includes the home field of the St. Louis FC. MLS officials are planning a visit to St. Louis next month to meet with the new group. The proposed public portion of funding for the stadium will have to be put to a vote. The ownership group hoping to bring an MLS expansion team to Miami is trying to acquire additional investors for funding additional land purchases and stadium construction.

National Premier Soccer League: The men\'s elite-level NPSL announced the addition of two new teams called the Orange County FC (South Orange County, CA) and Asheville City SC (Asheville, NC) for the 2017 season.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The professional outdoor, or field lacrosse, MLL announced its 2017 season schedule that will feature the same nine teams as last season. The MLL has playing a summertime season since 2001.

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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