Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 9, 2017 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

United Shore Professional Baseball League: The independent developmental USPBL, which completed its inaugural 2016 season with three teams all based out of a new stadium in Utica (MI), announced a fourth team called the Westside Woolly Mammoths will be added for the 2017 season. The Woolly Mammoths will join the three original teams called the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, Eastside Diamond Hoppers and Utica Unicorns in Utica for a season running from May 11 to September 10, 2017.

BASKETBALL

North American Basketball League: The spring-summer semi-pro NABL is again adding more teams as it prepares for its second season in 2017. A new West Coast Conference lists four teams called the Kitsap Admirals, Quad City Flames, SB Battle (Vancouver) and Tacoma Thunder. Eight of the ten teams from last season are returning, plus other new teams called the Alamo City Aztecs (San Antonio), Southern Illinois Pharaohs (Carbondale), Vehicle City Royals (Flint, MI), Capital City Cardinals (Raleigh, NC), Huntsville (AL) Force, Texas Wolverines (Houston), OKC Hoops, Panama City Piranhas and Birmingham (AL) Vulcans have been added. Teams are aligned into East, West, Midwest and West Coast conferences.

Midwest Basketball League: The spring-summer semi-pro MBL has posted the schedule for its second season in 2017 that will feature 14 teams aligned into seven-team divisions. The league had 11 teams last season, but the Hamilton (OH) Heroes and Northern Indiana Monarchs (South Bend) will not return. The league has added new teams called the Central Indiana Crusaders (Anderson), Fort Wayne Vision, Springfield (IL) Panthers, Minnesota Pitbulls (Eagan) and Kentucky Flash (Louisville), which was an MBL branding team in 2016. The Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Storm did not finish its 2016 schedule and were reorganized as the Milwaukee Storm for 2017. The league also lists ten branding teams that could join as full-schedule teams in the future. The MBL season will run from late March to late June.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new Honolulu-based team called the Hawaii Swish will host some games this season against five different ABA teams with hopes of joining the ABA for a full season in 2017-18. In May 2016, another new Hawaii-based ABA team called the Hawaii Hammerheads (Hilo) was announced, but has yet to start play. The ABA also announced two other new teams for next season that will include a yet-to-be-named team in El Cajon (CA) and the West Virginia Coalminerz (Fairmont). The Coalminerz will replace a Fairmont-based team called the West Virginia Wildkatz that played a few games as part of the ABA\'s 2015-16 season.

American Professional Basketball League: The Rockville (MD) Victors team has rejoined the APBL for the remainder of the 2016-17 season. The Victors had been part of the APBL since the league\'s inaugural 2012-13 season, but announced plans to move to the Central Basketball Association for its 2017 season starting in March. Previously announced 2016-17 APBL teams called the Hudson Valley Kingz, Atlantic Coast Crusaders and New York Thunder have disappeared from the schedule/standings and another new team called the Ocean 11 Brooklyn has also been added to the schedule with the Victors.

FOOTBALL

Arena Football League: The AFL announced its 2017 season schedule that will feature only five teams: the Cleveland Gladiators, Philadelphia Soul, Tampa Bay Storm and the expansion Washington (DC) Valor and a yet-to-be-named Baltimore expansion team. The league had eight teams in 2016, but the Portland Steel, Los Angeles KISS, Jacksonville Sharks, Arizona Rattlers and Orlando Predators did not return.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League\'s new Vegas Golden Knights are reported to be interested in making the Chicago Wolves its AHL affiliate when the Golden Knights start play for the 2017-18 season. The Wolves are currently an affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, but that agreement ends after this season. For now, the Golden Knights are looking for an AHL affiliate like the Wolves that are not currently owned by an NHL club. There have been several reports indicating the St. Louis Blues are trying to establish a new AHL team in Kansas City for next season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The Las Vegas city council has authorized funds for a group to develop a campaign to attract an MLS team to the city, even though Las Vegas was not on a recent MLS list of ten cities under consideration for a future franchise. The owner of the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the United Soccer League is trying to bring an MLS team to a revamped facility in St. Petersburg and has reached out to former MLS player David Beckham, who is the owner of MLS franchise rights to the Miami market, to see if he would be interested in moving his MLS interest to St. Petersburg.

North American Soccer League: The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has granted the NASL provisional Division-II status for the 2017 season along with the United Soccer League, which had been seeking to move up from the Division-III status. Neither league currently meets the USSF Division-II requirements, so the USSF will be working with both leagues over the next year and that could lead to a restructuring or merger of both leagues or creation of a new Division-III league. The NASL had six teams committed to the 2017 season that included the Indy Eleven (Indianapolis), FC Edmonton, Miami FC, Puerto Rico FC, North Carolina FC (was Carolina RailHawks) and the expansion San Francisco Deltas. With the news that the NASL will maintain its Division-II status for 2017, it appears as though the New York Cosmos and Jacksonville Armada will also return as both have prospective buyers that are expected to take over those teams.

United Soccer League: The USL was granted provisional Division-II status by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) starting with the 2017 season. The USSF will be working with the league to meet the full requirements of Division-II status. The USL started play as a Division-III league in 2011 called the United Soccer Leagues PRO, or USL PRO. This was a merger of teams from the United Soccer Leagues First Division (Division II) and Second Division (Division III). The USL PRO was renamed the United Soccer League for the 2015 season. The USL will share the provisional Division-II status with the North American Soccer League, at least for the 2017 season.

National Premier Soccer League: The men\'s elite-level NPSL announced the addition of a new team called Med City FC (Rochester, MN), along with plans for a new team in Napa Valley (CA) to join for the 2017 season.

National Women\'s Soccer League: The NWSL\'s Western New York Flash, based out of Rochester (NY), is reported to be involved in a sale and relocation of the team to the Cary/Raleigh (NC) area for the 2017 season. The owner of the men\'s North American Soccer League team called the North Carolina FC, which is based in Cary and was recently renamed from the Carolina RailHawks, had expressed interest in acquiring a women\'s NWSL team. In September 2016, the North Carolina FC owner trademarked the Carolina Courage, which was the name of the Cary-based women\'s team that played in the three seasons (2001-03) of the former professional league called the Women\'s United Soccer Association. The Western New York Flash has been a member of the NWSL since the league started play in the 2013 season. A businessman from Minnesota is finalizing the purchase of the NWSL\'s FC Kansas City team, but the new owner plans to keep the team in the Kansas City area.

OTHER

Arena Lacrosse League: The new professional ALL started its inaugural 2017 season this weekend with six teams based in Ontario (Canada). The teams include the Oshawa Outlaws, Paris River Wolves, Peterborough Timbermen, St. Catharines Shock Wave, Six Nations Snipers (Hagersville) and Toronto Monarchs. The 2017 season runs until the first week of April. When the ALL was first announced in 2014, it was planning to be a summer indoor lacrosse league for the development of elite-level players with teams playing out of minor league hockey arenas in the United States. When the Ontario-based Canadian Lacrosse League (CLAX) folded this past summer prior to what would have been a sixth season in 2017, the ALL decided to fill the void and moved into the previous CLAX territory and utilized a winter season similar to that operated by the CLAX since 2012.

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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