Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
February 20, 2017 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

Arizona League: Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres announced plans to field two teams in the Rookie-level AzL in 2017. The New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers each operated two teams last season in the other Rookie-level league called the Gulf Coast League, which has all teams based in Florida.

Southwest League of Professional Baseball: Initial funds have been authorized for a new ballpark that is expected to become home to the Waco BlueCats in the new SWL. The league is expected to have six teams when it starts play in 2018.

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: A businessman from Napa (CA) is looking to bring an independent Pacific Association expansion team to the city for the 2018 season. If the team moves forward, it will be called the Napa Silverados. The league has operated with only four teams in each of its four seasons (2013-16) of operation.

Frontier League: The group trying to build a new ballpark in Jackson County (MI) for a proposed independent Frontier League team is having funding issues. Officials in Jackson County want the potential ownership group to have a ballpark naming-rights deal in place by the end of this month before any public funds are committed to the project.

Coastal Plain League: The city of Petersburg (VA) is looking to sell the Petersburg Generals team in the summer-collegiate CPL and new ownership could move the team to Macon (GA).

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA D-League has signed a marketing agreement and partnership with Gatorade. As part of the agreement, Gatorade will become the league's title sponsor and the league will be renamed the NBA G-League starting with the 2017-18 season. The NBA D-League played its first season in 2001-02.

American Basketball Association: The previously announced new 2017-18 ABA team called the West Virginia Coalminerz (Fairmont), which was apparently a rebranding of the ABA's 2015-16 West Virginia Wildcatz team, has already changed its name to the West Virginia Warlocks.

Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): Mexico's Pacific Coast Basketball League known as the CIBACOPA, which is the country's second professional basketball league next to the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP), announced its 2017 season will feature ten teams each playing a 38-game schedule from late March to early June. The CIBACOPA had 11 teams last season, but the Fuerza Guinda de Nogales and Vaqueros de Agua Prieta will sit out the 2017 season and a new team called the Aguilas Doradas (Golden Eagles) de Durango was added as an expansion team.

FOOTBALL

Women's Football Alliance: The WFA announced it has added four teams that were part of the Independent Women's Football League in 2016. These team include the New York Sharks, Montreal Blitz, Baltimore Nighthawks and Carolina Phoenix (Durham, NC). The New York Sharks previously played three seasons (2011-13) as part of the WFA.

Independent Women's Football League: The IWFL announced teams called the Rogue Valley (OR) Elements and South Texas Lady Crushers (Corpus Christi) have been added for the 2017 season. The IWFL announced it will not operate an Atlantic Conference in 2017 due to higher travel costs of not having enough teams in the region. For this reason, the New York Sharks and Montreal Blitz teams have decided to leave the IWFL.

Indoor Football League: The IFL started its 2017 season this week and again will have ten teams aligned into a five-team United Conference and a five-team Intense Conference. Of the ten teams from last season, the Billings (MT) Wolves and Tri-Cities Fever (Kennewick, WA) did not return, but the league added the Arizona Rattlers (Phoenix) from the Arena Football League along with the expansion Salt Lake Screaming Eagles. The United Conference teams remained the same, while Arizona and Salt Lake replaced Billings and Tri-Cities in the Intense Conference.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The head of the 30-team AHL, which currently has each team affiliated with one of the 30 National Hockey League teams, recently stated that there is a 50-50 chance that the league will have a 31st team in place for the 2017-18 season to accommodate the NHL's addition of the Vegas Golden Knights for next season.

ECHL: The first phase of a study on building a proposed 6,200-seat arena near Ocean City (MD) in Worcester County concluded the population base in the area during the hockey season would not be enough to support an ECHL team. Officials in Elmira (NY) recently voted against paying $750,000 as half the cost of a new ice plant at First Arena, which is home to the ECHL's Elmira Jackals. The arena ownership has been trying to sell the arena and wanted Elmira and Chemung County to split the costs of repairs to facilitate the arena sale. The arena could go dark after this season, if the sale does not go through.

Eastern Hockey League: The New Hampshire Avalanche (Hooksett) hockey program announced it will add a Tier-III junior team in the EHL for the 2017-18 season. The current Hooksett-based team called the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs is leaving the EHL to be part of the United States Premier Hockey League for next season.

United States Hockey League: The Bloomington (IL) Thunder of the Tier-I junior level USHL has not yet made a decision about returning for the 2017-18 season. The team is in its third season as part of the USHL, but has been having attendance issues.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: Investors are looking to place a USL team in Baltimore, possibly in time for the 2018 season. A temporary venue could be used while a new stadium is being built. Last year, the USL's Wilmington (NC) Hammerheads had talked of relocating to Baltimore, but have since moved down to play as an amateur team in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL). A team called the Baltimore Bohemians has been part of the PDL for the past five seasons (2012-16), but will sit out the 2017 season. The USL's Tulsa Roughnecks FC announced it will be the USL affiliate for Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire during the 2017 season. The Fire had been affiliated with the USL's St. Louis FC for the past two seasons (2015-16).

United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The new PDL team based in Bryan-College Station (TX) and affiliated with the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer will be called the Brazos Valley Cavalry FC when it starts play in the 2017 season. Of the 72 PDL teams that will be participating in the 2017 season, only a proposed new Denver-based team has yet to announce its team name.

United Women's Soccer: The pro-am UWS has added additional new teams to all three conferences over the past few weeks. The Calgary Foothills Women's FC and So Cal Crush (Los Angeles) have been added to the West Conference; the Syracuse Development Academy (SDA) has been granted a team for the Eastern Conference; and the Toledo Villa FC and Indy Premier SC have been added to the new Midwest Conference. The UWS had a five-team West Conference and a six-team East Conference for its inaugural 2016 season. The Syracuse team operated as the SDA Lady Knights in the 2016 Women's Premier Soccer League and will rebrand as a member of the UWS. The Calgary Foothills Women's FC is affiliated with the men's Calgary Foothill FC in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League.

OTHER

World TeamTennis: The WTT recently held its draft for marquee players for the 2017 season that will again include six teams. All teams will return from last season and include the New York Empire, Orange County (CA) Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms, San Diego Aviators, Springfield (MO) Lasers and Washington (DC) Kastles.

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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