Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
March 13, 2017 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: The Northern California-based independent Pacific Association will be holding tryouts next month for its 2017 season that will feature the same four teams as last season. These teams will include the Pittsburg Diamonds, San Rafael Pacifics, Sonoma Stompers and Vallejo Admirals. The 2017 season will run from early June to late August.

Pecos Spring League: The independent Pecos League started the sixth season of its Houston-based Pecos Spring League this week. Teams include the returning Coastal Kingfish, Galveston Sea Lions, Houston Apollos and Garden of Gears (Mesa, AZ), along with the new Salina Stockade that replaces last season\'s team called the Ohio Wranglers. All games will be played at a complex in Houston from March 8 to 28, 2017. The Salina Stockade name comes from a Pecos League team that was part of the 2016 season, but did not return for 2017. Spring league players pay for the opportunity to be evaluated by the Pecos League and other independent leagues that are looking to sign players for the upcoming summer season.

New York-Penn League: The Aberdeen (MD) IronBirds of the short-season Class-A NYPL announced the team will be called the Aberdeen Steamed Crabs for one game in August of the 2017 season as a tribute to Maryland\'s crab industry.

South Atlantic League (SALLY): As they did last season, the Asheville (NC) Tourists of the low Class-A SALLY will be called the Beer City Tourists for a game in June of the 2017 season. The promotion pays tribute to the local craft beer industry.

American Association: The owner of a proposed new 4,000-seat stadium in Franklin (WI), just outside of Milwaukee, is trying to sell naming rights to the stadium that could become home to a future American Association team. It is hoped that construction will start sometime this year.

Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League continues to expand and is now considering Mitchell (SD) for a team as early as the 2018 season. The league announced Huron (SD) as a potential expansion market last week and will add the Bismarck (ND) Larks for the 2017 season.

Coastal Plain League: Officials from Macon-Bibb County (GA) are moving forward on a resolution that could bring a summer-collegiate CPL team to the city of Macon (GA) for the 2018 season.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team called the Magic City Blitz, based in Birmingham (AL), has been added as an expansion team for next season. It looks like this might be a result of a change in management and ownership of the league\'s Birmingham Blitz team.

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): Residents of Grand Junction (CO) will be voting this month on a proposed new 5,200-seat arena that officials hope will become home to a D-League team affiliated with the NBA\'s Denver Nuggets and possibly a minor hockey team in the ECHL.

BIG3 League: The proposed new BIG3 professional 3-on-3 basketball league announced another new team called 3\'s Company has been added. The league has now announced six of eight proposed touring teams consisting of former National Basketball Association players that will start play in June 2017.

FOOTBALL

Midwest Professional Indoor Football: The MPIF started its second season last weekend with seven teams. Of the four teams from last season, only the Northern Indiana Renegades (Dyer, IN), which were the Illinois Renegades last season, returned for 2017. The Kearney (NE) Hawks, Stateline Sting (Loves Park/Rockford, IL) and Windy City Ravens (Chicago) did not return, but the league added six other teams called the Cincinnati Flex, Derby City Roughriders (Louisville), Illinois Cowboys (Hoffman Estates), Illinois Knights (Hoffman Estates), Midway Marauders (Chicago) and Tri-Town Titans (Bourbonnais/Kankakee, IL). A proposed eighth team called the Cleveland Pack dropped out prior to the 2017 season.

Arena Pro Football: The new indoor football league known as Arena Pro Football, which was originally called the National Arena Football League, started its inaugural 2017 season this weekend. One of the APF\'s six proposed first-season teams called the Myrtle Beach (SC) Sharks has apparently left the APF due to instability of the league and the team now will be part of the outdoor spring-summer Gridiron Developmental Football League. Other APF teams include the Florida Tarpons (Estero) and River City Raiders (St. Charles, MO) from last season\'s American Indoor Football, along with the Savannah Coastal Outlaws, Richmond (VA) Rough Riders and the Alabama Outlawz (Columbiana/Shelby County), which were originally called the Birmingham Outlawz. The APF lists a 2018 expansion team called the Cape Fear (NC) Wildcats, originally announced as the Carolina Wildcats.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: The NHL and the Arizona Coyotes are pushing a plan for a new arena in the Phoenix area and claim the current arena in Glendale is not economically capable of supporting the NHL franchise. The arena was built in 2003 and the Coyotes\' lease runs through next season. The city of Glendale claims the Coyotes rank near the bottom in league attendance because of poor management and marketing of the team. Of course, this has led to speculation about the eventual relocation of the franchise.

ECHL: The ECHL announced the Elmira (NY) Jackals will withdraw its league membership after this season as part of a purchase agreement for its home arena. The team had been suffering from lower attendance and was having problems paying the lease on its arena that needed improvements. The arena purchase agreement was announced this week and as part of that deal the Elmira Jackals would cease operations at the end of the season. Another part of the agreement was that the new owner obtain a new hockey franchise, but it is uncertain which team or in which league that would be. The Elmira Jackals started play in the 2000-01 season as part of the former United Hockey League and moved to the ECHL for the 2007-08 season. Officials in Portland (ME) are working with two separate groups interested in bringing an ECHL team to the city. They hope to have an agreement in place before a league meeting in June, but that is no guarantee a Portland-based team would be able to start play next season.

United States Hockey League: The city of Racine (WI) has approved some initial funding towards plans for construction of a new arena, which could become home to a team in the Tier-I junior-level USHL. The owner of the National Hockey League\'s Minnesota Wild has expressed interest in bringing a USHL team to Racine, if the new arena is built.

North American Hockey League: A potential ownership group based in Wausau (WI) is looking to purchase a franchise in the Tier-II junior-level NAHL and relocate the team to Wausau. The league announced last week that the Alaska-based Kenai River Brown Bears were ceasing operations and there was a possibility of new ownership taking over the team and moving it to a new market.

World League of Roller Hockey: Major League Roller Hockey\'s new World League started play earlier this year. The five-team USA East and four-team USA West divisions have started play with a four-team USA Midwest division starting next month. The league also has three European divisions.

SOCCER

United Women\'s Soccer: The pro-am UWS announced a new team called the Western New York Flash will be based in Buffalo and will be part of the league\'s second season in 2017. A nearby Rochester-based team by the same name had been part of the professional NWSL for the past few seasons, but relocated to become the North Carolina Courage (Cary) for the 2017 season. The Flash will be added to the UWS\'s East Conference.

Major League Soccer: An investment group is looking to acquire Qualcomm Stadium, which was the home of the National Football League\'s San Diego Chargers, to build a new stadium for an MLS expansion team. The proposed development called SoccerCity would also include office space, hotels, homes and apartments. The exact seating capacity of a stadium would be 22,000 with just an MLS team or 32,000 if it is shared with the San Diego State University football program.

National Women\'s Soccer League: Details were recently released for a proposed sports complex called Atlanta Sports City that will include a 15,000-seat stadium that could host a pro women\'s team in the NWSL and a pro men\'s team in either the United Soccer League or North American Soccer League.

OTHER

Western Lacrosse Association: The British Columbia-based indoor Senior-A WLA announced its 2017 season schedule last month that will feature the same seven teams as last season - the Burnaby Lakers, Coquitlam Adanacs, Langley Thunder, Maple Ridge Burrards, Nanaimo Timbermen, New Westminster Salmonbellies, and the Victoria Shamrocks. The season runs from mid-May to early August. At the end of the season, the WLA champion plays the champion of the Ontario-based Major Series Lacrosse for the Mann Cup.

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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