Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
February 6, 2017 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

Can-Am League: The independent Can-Am League announced the Cuban National Team and South Korea\'s Yeoncheon Miracle will be the two international teams that will be part of the 2017 league schedule during the month of June. This will be the third season the league has had visiting international teams as part of the regular season. Last season, the Cuban National Team and the Japanese Shikoku Island All-Stars each played 20 games against Can-Am League teams. Shikoku Island was the lone international team in the 2015 season.

International League: A recent feasibility study concluded that the current ballpark and site used by the Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox (PawSox) would not produce economic benefits from either a total renovation or a completely new ballpark. The team has been looking at other possible ballpark sites in the area. Team ownership considered a move to Providence in 2015, but a new ballpark deal fell through there.

Northwoods League: A group in Dubuque (IA) is planning a new ballpark for a proposed team in the summer collegiate Northwoods League that could start playing in the 2019 season. The Northwoods League had a previous team called the Dubuque Mud Puppies that played in the league\'s first two seasons (1994-95) before moving to St. Cloud (MN).

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA\'s Atlanta Hawks announced they will operate a D-League team in Erie (PA) for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. The team will be called the Erie BayHawks for the next two seasons and will then move to a new arena to be built in the College Park area of Atlanta for the 2019-20 season. The D-League\'s current version of the Erie BayHawks has been in the league since the 2008-09 season and has been affiliated with the NBA\'s Orlando Magic since the 2014-15 season. In December 2016, the Orlando Magic purchased the Erie BayHawks and will move the team closer to home in Lakeland (FL) for the 2017-18 season.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced that one of its 2016-17 travel teams called the Southeast Pro Elite Flyers (Birmingham, AL) will become a full-schedule team for the rest of the season. The league also announced an expansion team called the Charlotte Rams has been added for next season.

Women\'s American Basketball Association: The men\'s American Basketball Association announced it will restart the affiliated WABA in August 2017. The WABA was organized in 2011, but league play never started until three or four teams each played a handful of games in the summers of 2014 and 2015. There was no WABA play in 2016 and its top team called the Flint Monarchs left for the Global Women\'s Basketball Association, which played a short summer season in 2016 with four teams.

United Basketball League: The UBL started its 2017 season last month and currently lists five teams called the Arkansas Bobcats, Arkansas Warriors, Baton Rouge Silverbacks, Baton Rouge Hurricanes and Texas Wranglers. Last season, the UBL schedule consisted of four "cluster" events each with three to four participating teams playing in a UBL city. The first event of 2017 had three teams playing in Baton Rouge.

Big3 Basketball League: The proposed new BIG3 professional 3-on-3 basketball league announced one of its participating teams will be called the 3 Headed Monsters. The Big3 is planning a start in June 2017 with eight touring teams consisting of former National Basketball Association players.

FOOTBALL

National Football League: The proposed new stadium in Las Vegas to be built for the relocated Oakland Raiders lost a major investor this week, but the Raiders remain committed to moving to Las Vegas. The Raiders\' relocation application is expected to be voted on at an owners\' meeting next month.

Canadian American Indoor Football League: The proposed new CAIFL, which plans to start play this year with ten teams, has started discussions with a new potential franchise in Maine. It is uncertain if this team would try to start play this season or next season.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL has approved the move of the Albany Devils to Binghamton (NY) where the team will become the Binghamton Devils for the 2017-18 season. The AHL\'s current Binghamton Senators team is moving to Belleville (Ontario) next season, so Binghamton had been searching for a replacement team. The president of the AHL stated that the league will not be going to Kansas City next season, despite rumors that the National Hockey League\'s St. Louis Blues would be placing their AHL affiliate in Kansas City. The Blues\' current affiliation with the AHL\'s Chicago Wolves ends after this season and the Blues apparently explored the possibility of placing an AHL team in Kansas City. The NHL is expanding to Las Vegas next season, so the AHL could also add another team.

National Hockey League: The NHL has denied speculation that the Carolina Hurricanes (Raleigh, NC) are a relocation candidate. The team currently ranks last in attendance and is reported to be up for sale with Quebec City mentioned as a possible destination. The Hurricanes joined the league for the 1997-98 season with the relocation of the Hartford Whalers. The New York Islanders are considering their arena options, as the team\'s move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn has not worked out and the Barclays Center could terminate the Islanders\' lease after the 2018-19 season. The Islanders are exploring construction of a new arena in Queens and there is a possibility of a return to their former home in Nassau County. The city of Hartford has offered its arena to the Islanders if they need a home. Arizona State University has backed out of plans to build a new arena in Tempe that would have been the new home of the NHL\'s Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes\' current lease at its home arena in Glendale expires after the 2017-18 season and the Coyotes were looking for a new home due to a poor relationship with Glendale.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS announced that 12 groups have applied for franchises in the next round of MLS expansion. The cities include San Antonio, Sacramento, St. Louis, Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, Cincinnati, Charlotte and Phoenix with teams currently affiliated with the United Soccer League; Indianapolis and Raleigh (NC) with teams currently affiliated with the North American Soccer League; and Detroit, Nashville and San Diego. The MLS plans to grow to a total of 28 teams with the recent applicants vying for four franchises - numbers 25, 26, 27 and 28. The league plans to add Los Angeles FC as its 23rd team in 2018 and is working with Miami to also start play in 2018 as the 24th team. Two additional teams could join in 2020 and the other two at a later date. The MLS could announce the next two expansion markets later this year.

United Soccer League: The provisional Division-II USL announced its 2017 schedule that will feature 30 teams aligned in 15-team Eastern and Western conferences. Seven markets with current USL teams have applied for an expansion franchise in Major League Soccer. These markets include San Antonio (San Antonio FC), Phoenix (Phoenix Rising FC), Sacramento (Sacramento Republic FC), St. Louis (St. Louis FC), Charlotte (Charlotte Independence), Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay Rowdies) and Cincinnati (FC Cincinnati).

United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the United Soccer League announced they will place a developmental team called the Tampa Bay Rowdies U23 in the PDL for the 2017 season. The PDL also announced another new team called Houston FC has been added for the 2017 season.

National Premier Soccer League: The men\'s elite-level NPSL announced a new team called Ozark FC, based in Springdale (AR), has been added as a 2017 expansion team.

OTHER

American Ultimate Disc League: The professional AUDL has taken over its Minneapolis-based Minnesota Wind Chill franchise and the league will operate the team for the upcoming 2017 season. The owner of the Wind Chill was having financial issues running the team. The Wind Chill joined the AUDL as an expansion team for the 2013 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.


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