Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
December 5, 2016 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

Southwest League of Professional Baseball: The proposed new SWL announced its team to be based in Waco (TX) will be called the Waco BlueCats when league play begins in 2018. The name comes from the largest species of North American catfish found in the area's Brazos River. Woolies, Mammoths, Peppers and Grackles were other nickname choices under consideration. The team will play at a new 4,000-seat stadium to be built in nearby Bellmead. The Waco team is to be one of six Texas-based teams that will be part of the league when it starts its 112-game schedule in 2018. The SWL recently announced Royce City, just northeast of Dallas, as a second city for a possible team.

BASKETBALL

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA announced the schedule for its 21st season that will run from mid-May to early September 2017. The league will have the same 12 teams as last season. The Eastern Conference will have the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Washington (DC) Mystics, while the Western Conference will feature the Dallas Wings, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, San Antonio Stars and Seattle Storm.

FOOTBALL

National Arena League: The proposed new NAL, which was originally called the Arena Developmental League, has announced its eighth team will be the Monterrey (Mexico) Steel when the league starts play in 2017. The team is expected to include some of the players from the Lagartos de Tampico (Mexico) team that was part of the 2016 league called North American Indoor Football.

National Football League: Although the NFL's Oakland Raiders are trying to move to a proposed new stadium in Las Vegas, a group in Oakland is trying to keep the team from moving and has developed plans for a new stadium to be built next to the team's current home at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Las Vegas stadium could be ready in 2019 and the team could apply for relocation at the NFL's January 2017 meeting. After the recent failure of a public vote on a new football stadium in San Diego, the NFL's San Diego Chargers appear ready to exercise an option to move to Los Angeles and be part of the Rams' new stadium that should be ready for the 2019 season. The option expires on January 15, 2017. The Chargers could move to Los Angeles as soon as next season and possibly use the StubHub Center, which is home to Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, as its home. It looks as though the NFL might move forward with discussion of plans to start a developmental league in the near future. The NFL appears to be considering either a spring league or an in-season training academy for valuable talent.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: Rumors are again circulating that the owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes (Raleigh, NC) is looking to sell the team to investors in Quebec City where the team would relocate.

ECHL: As of now, an ECHL team being placed in Portland (ME) might not happen for the 2017-18 season. Plans for an expansion team or for relocation of an existing team would need to be presented at the ECHL's board of governors meeting next month, but investors have not come forward. The city has been looking for a replacement team since the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates team moved to Springfield (MA) after the 2015-16 season.

American Hockey League: Several reports this week indicated the Missouri Mavericks (Independence) of the ECHL could be moving up to the AHL as an affiliate of the National Hockey League's St. Louis Blues. The Blues' current AHL affiliation with the Chicago Wolves ends after this season and the Blues are reported to be purchasing a new AHL franchise that will be based at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The Missouri Mavericks would then move from Independence and leave the ECHL to join the AHL. The AHL would need to expand by one team to accommodate the addition of the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights for the 2017-18 season. The ownership of the Missouri Mavericks denied this move and stated the team is committed to remaining in the ECHL and playing in Independence. The Mavericks' ownership also plans to build a smaller hockey arena on the Kansas side of the metro area for a Tier-I junior team in the United States Hockey League. The AHL's Albany Devils became the Albany River Rats for a recent throwback game as a tribute to the River Rats AHL team that played in the city from 1993 through the 2009-10 season before moving to Charlotte. The Albany Devils arrived from Lowell (MA) for the 2010-11 season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS has acknowledged that the St. Louis group known as SC STL is the only ownership group contending for an MLS franchise, if one is granted to St. Louis. SC STL plans to build a new downtown stadium on land that that the city has an option to sell, but 40 percent of the stadium costs might have to come from public financing. Another potential MLS expansion group called Foundry St. Louis was planning a new stadium in midtown St. Louis and this group appears to be out of the running. The MLS commissioner recently visited Cincinnati to discuss that cities potential MLS expansion bid that was spurred by the success of the FC Cincinnati in its first season as part of the United Soccer League. The league would like a potential Cincinnati MLS team to consider a better stadium situation than the USL team's current home at the University of Cincinnati football stadium.

North American Soccer League: The Carolina RailHawks (Cary, NC) of the Division-II NASL are reported to be planning a re-branding to the North Carolina FC, as the club prepares to eventually make a bid for a Major League Soccer expansion franchise.

United Soccer Leagues - Premier Development League: The PDL announced the Myrtle Beach (SC) Mutiny team has joined the PDL for the 2017 season. The Mutiny had been part of the National Premier Soccer League playing as the Myrtle Beach FC for two seasons (2012-13) and then the Mutiny for three seasons (2014-16).

National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level NPSL announced the addition of three new teams called the Hartford City FC (Connecticut), TSF FC (Wayne, NJ) and Inter Nashville. The new Nashville team replaces the loss of the NPSL's Nashville FC team that was purchased and will start in the United Soccer League for the 2018 season. The NPSL also announced a provisional team called the Milwaukee Torrent has been granted full membership for the 2017 season. The Torrent played a six-game NPSL schedule in 2016.

Premier Arena Soccer League: The PASL, which is the official developmental league for the Major Arena Soccer League, announced a new team called the Cleveland Legacy will be part of the upcoming 2016-17 season.

OTHER

Arena Lacrosse League: The proposed new professional ALL has posted the schedule for its inaugural 2017 season that will run from early January to the first week of April with all six teams based in Canada's Ontario province. The teams will include the Oshawa Outlaws, Paris River Wolves, Peterborough Timbermen, St. Catharines Shock Wave, Six Nations Snipers (Hagersville) and Toronto Monarchs. Each team will play a 14-game schedule.

California Cup Rugby: The inaugural season of the men's Cal Cup rugby competition started this weekend with six California-based teams called the Life West Gladiators (Howard), Olympic Rugby (San Francisco), Belmont Shore RC (Long Beach), San Diego Old Aztecs, Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (San Diego) and San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby. The short Cal Cup winter season runs through mid-January and will prepare elite rugby players for the Pro Rugby league season that starts in the spring.

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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