by Dan Krieger
November 28, 2016 - Northwoods League (Northwoods)
Empire Pro Baseball League: The independent Empire Pro League officially announced a new team called the Plattsburgh (NY) Red Birds that will join the Puerto Rico Islanders as new teams for the 2017 season. These teams will replace two of the four 2016 teams called the Watertown (NY) Bucks and the New Hampshire Wild. The league is still trying to add more teams for the 2017 season.
American Association: After playing home games last season in both Grand Prairie and Amarillo last season, the Texas AirHogs team in the independent AA recently announced its 2016 schedule that will feature all home games to be played in Grand Prairie. The team joined the AA as a 2008 expansion team and played as the Grand Prairie AirHogs until becoming the Texas AirHogs for the 2016 season.
California Winter League: The instructional showcase CWL, which is the official winter league of the independent Frontier League, is preparing for its eighth season that will start play in January 2017. The CWL plays all games in Palm Springs (CA).
Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League announced its 2017 expansion team based in Fond-du-Lac (WI) will be called the Fond-du-Lac Dock Spiders. Barn Owls, Pipsqueaks, Lake Flies and Shantymen were other nicknames under consideration.
Elite Basketball League: The men's regional semi-pro EBL is currently playing its 2016-17 fall/winter season with 12 teams mostly based in Arkansas and Tennessee. The league is also operating a five-team Women's EBL. The EBL plans to add a team based in South Georgia (Bainbridge) in 2017.
Legends Football League: The LFL, which was formerly called the Lingerie Football League and operated with eight teams in the LFL USA in 2016, is still planning to expand into Europe with its LFL Europa league. The LFL is in early talks with representatives from Ireland, Spain, England, Germany, Belgium and France that are interested in being part of LFL Europa's six national teams. The LFL also plans to eventually expand into Southeast Asia, Japan and China, along with a return of the LFL Canada and LFL Australia leagues that operated in the past.
Champions Indoor Football: The River City Raiders indoor football team, based in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles (MO), has been removed from the league for non-payment of league dues. The team says it left when another team (Chicago Eagles) in their division dropped out of the league last week. The River City Raiders were part of American Indoor Football in 2016, but moved to the CIF when the AIF folded. Before the departure of the Eagles and Raiders, the CIF had 16 teams aligned in 4 four-team divisions for the 2017 season.
Can-Am Indoor Football League: The owner of the Steel City Patriots (Hamilton, Ontario) outdoor football team in Canada's semi-pro Northern Football Conference will operate the Niagara Spartans indoor football team in the proposed new CAIFL. The Niagara Spartans will be based out of the Fleming Centre in Beamsville (Ontario), which is in the Niagara Region and just east of Hamilton. The Spartans will be the league's only Canadian team and will be part of a Western Division with teams in the New York markets of Buffalo, Rochester, Lockport and Niagara Falls.
Supreme Indoor Football: A team called the Cap City Bulls (Austin, TX) plans to make an official announcement next week that the team will be part of the SIF's inaugural 2017 season.
National Hockey League: The NHL's new Las Vegas expansion team announced it will be called the Vegas Golden Knights when it starts play for the 2017-18 season. The Silver Knights and Desert Knights were other names said to have been under consideration. The Vegas Golden Knights will be the NHL's 31st team and first expansion team since the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets joined for the 2000-01 season.
American Inline Hockey League: The AIHL has posted its 20-week 2016-17 season schedule that will start next weekend and run through mid-April 2017. The league will again have both an Elite Division and a lower-level Minor Division of teams. The AIHL started play in the 2008-09 season.
United Soccer Leagues - Premier Development League: The PDL recently announced an expansion team called the Tobacco Road FC, based in Durham (NC), will be added for the 2017 season. The PDL has three other North Carolina-based teams called the Charlotte Eagles, Carolina Dynamo (Greensboro) and Wilmington Hammerheads FC.
Evergreen Premier League of Washington: The men's elite-level EPLWA announced it is looking for an eighth team to replace the Wenatchee FC Capitals team, which will not return in 2017.
Northwest Premier League: The women's elite-level amateur NWPL, which is based in the Northwest region of the United States and modeled after the men's elite-level Evergreen Premier League of Washington (EPLWA), announced two more teams that will grow the league to nine teams for the 2017 season. The new teams are the Washington Timbers (Vancouver, WA) and North Central Washington Alliance FC, or NCW Alliance FC (Wenatchee, WA).
National Women's Soccer League: There has not been much to report about possible expansion in the NWSL, but the new Los Angeles FC men's Major League Soccer team that will start play in 2018 appears to be interested in adding a women's team in the NWSL. The Real Salt Lake MLS team has also expressed interest in adding an NWSL team.
PRO Rugby: The PRO Rugby league, which played its inaugural season earlier this year with five teams, was reported to be considering using players from South Africa to staff a team based in New Orleans for the 2017 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.