by Dan Krieger
February 13, 2017 - Texas League (TL)
American Association: Construction has started on a new baseball stadium in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont that is expected to become home to an independent American Association team. The stadium is projected to be completed in time for the 2018 season.
Eastern League: The Reading Fightin Phils team in the Double-A Eastern League will be called the Reading Whoopies for one game in the 2017 season as a tribute to the Whoopie Pie snack treat.
Texas League: Officials in Lubbock (TX) have been pushing for a new baseball stadium to attract a team in the Double-A Texas League and a feasibility study ordered last year should be ready soon. A proposed stadium could be ready in 2020. Officials in Wichita (KS) are also trying to attract a Texas League team and might consider tearing down the city's current stadium, which is used by the Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association, in order to build a new stadium.
Atlantic League: A new ownership groups appears to be interested in bringing a new baseball stadium and team to Loudoun (VA), which was supposed to be home to an independent Atlantic League expansion team called the Loudoun Hounds. The Hounds were supposed to start play in 2012 at a new stadium to be built in one development, but the proposed stadium was moved to another development and never got off the ground after a dispute between the developer and the group that was to own the team. It is uncertain if this new interest in Loudoun is for an independent team or an affiliated team.
National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA's Milwaukee Bucks have acquired an NBA D-League franchise that will start play in Oshkosh (WI) for the 2017-18 season. A new 3,500-seat arena will be built for the team in Oshkosh and it is expected to be ready by next season. The Bucks had also been considering the Wisconsin cities of Racine and Sheboygan as home to its D-League team. With the addition of Oshkosh, the D-League plans to have 25 teams next season as it gets closer to having one team for each of the 30 NBA teams.
Big3 Basketball League: The proposed new BIG3 professional 3-on-3 basketball league announced the second of its participating teams will be called the Trilogy. The Big3 is planning a start in June 2017 with eight touring teams consisting of former National Basketball Association players.
Rival Professional Football League: The RPFL recently announced a new team called the Miami Blaze has been added as the fourth team to a new Florida Division for 2017. The Miami Blaze will join three other Florida teams called the South Beach Silverbacks, Florida Red Wolves and Atlantic Sharks. The RPFL will also have four teams in Michigan in 2017. The RPFL has played a short summer schedule with three to four Michigan-based teams since 2014, but has added the Florida teams for 2017. The RPFL claims to be a developmental league for players trying to get noticed by the National Football League, Canadian Football League or Arena Football League.
Canadian American Indoor Football League: The proposed new ten-team CAIFL has finally posted a name for it Niagara Falls (NY) team - the Niagara Falls Thunder.
American Hockey League: The possibility of an AHL team playing in the renovated Nassau Coliseum, which was the former home of the National Hockey League's New York Islanders, is no longer an option. There had been talk that the Bridgeport (CT) Sound Tigers, the Islanders' AHL affiliate, would move to Long Island when arena renovations were completed. The Nassau Coliseum has recently been mentioned as an option for the Islanders, who are unhappy with its new home in Brooklyn.
ECHL: The ECHL announced a team called the Jacksonville IceMen will be part of the 2017-18 season. This team was formerly known as the Evansville IceMen in the 2015-16 ECHL season, but sat out the 2016-17 season after plans to move to an arena in Owensboro (KY) fell through. Jacksonville had been home to the ECHL's Jacksonville Lizard Kings team for five seasons (1995-2000). Most recently, a team called the Jacksonville Barracudas played four seasons (2004-08) in the lower-level Southern Professional Hockey League. The Evansville IceMen played its first two seasons in the lower-level All American Hockey Association (2008-09) and All American Hockey League (2009-10). The team moved up a level to the International Hockey League for the 2010-11 season when the owner took over the IHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks franchise and relocated the team to Evansville as a new version of the IceMen. The IHL then signed an agreement to play as part of the Central Hockey League, so the IceMen were part of the CHL for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons before moving to the ECHL for the 2012-13 season.
Eastern States Hockey League: The United Hockey Union, which operates under the Amateur Athletic Union, announced the new ESHL will start play in 2017-18 as a junior-level NCAA development league. The league will have eight teams throughout Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
International Developmental Hockey League: The proposed new IDHL will start play in the 2017-18 season as a senior hockey league with players of ages 20 to 23 still looking for placement to a collegiate program or a professional league. Teams will be located in the northeastern United States and Canada.
United States Hockey League: The city of Racine (WI) recently lost out on a bid for a National Basketball Association D-League team to be operated by the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, but city officials still want to move forward with a proposed new arena to try to land a franchise in the Tier-I junior-level United States Hockey League. The 17-team league has Wisconsin-based teams in Green Bay and Madison.
United Soccer League: The San Antonio FC of the provisional Division-II USL announced it will be the USL affiliate for the New York City FC of Major League Soccer for the 2017 season. New York City FC was affiliated with the USL's Wilmington (NC) Hammerheads last season, but that team dropped out of the USL to establish a team by the same name in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League. All 22 MLS teams are required to have an affiliated team in the USL.
United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The PDL announced its 2017 season schedule that will feature 72 teams in Eastern, Western, Southern and Central conferences and further aligned into 10 regional divisions. The league also announced the four newest teams for 2017 will be the Texas United (Grand Prairie), FC Cleburne (TX), North Carolina FC U23 (Cary/Raleigh) and a yet-to-be-named Denver team. The new Texas teams will be under the same ownership and play home games at their respective American Association ballparks. The North Carolina FC of the North American Soccer League will operate its new developmental U23 team.
North American Soccer League: The provisional Division-II NASL announced its 2017 schedule that will feature eight teams playing a Spring Season (late March to mid-July) and a Fall Season (late July to late October).
American Ultimate Disc League: The professional AUDL announced its 2017 season schedule that will feature 24 teams aligned into six-team East, West, South and Midwest divisions. The league operated with 26 teams last season, but the Cincinnati Revolution ceased operations after five seasons and the owners of the Charlotte Express took over the Atlanta Hustle franchise with Charlotte becoming inactive in 2017. Each team will play a 14-game season from early April to late July. The AUDL has been around since the 2012 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.