by Dan Krieger
March 27, 2017 - United Soccer League (USL)
New York-Penn League: The Brooklyn Cyclones of the short-season Class-A NYPL will change their name to the Brooklyn Slices for one game during the 2017 season to pay homage to the New York-style of pizza popular in Brooklyn. The game will be part of a one-night Battle for Pizza Supremacy in two different leagues to decide which pizza is better - New York or Chicago style. The Myrtle Beach (SC) Pelicans of the high Class-A Carolina league will change their name to the Myrtle Beach Deep Dishers for one regular-season game during the 2017 season to pay homage to the Chicago-style of pizza.
Central Basketball Association: The men\'s CBA started its fifth season this weekend with seven teams each playing an eight-game schedule from late March to early May. The league had nine teams in two divisions last season, but the Columbus (OH) Condors, Peoria Panthers, Springfield (IL) Sentinels and Memphis Rail Runners did not return. The league added a new team called the Illinois Coal Miners (Danville) and a team called the Baltimore Shuckers from the American Professional Basketball League. Two other previous APBL teams called the Washington (DC) Stars (formerly the Metropolitan All-Stars) and the Rockville (MD) Victors were to be part of an East Division with Baltimore, but these two teams did not materialize for this season and all seven teams are listed in one table for the 2017 standings. The CBA was created for the 2014 season when several teams left the former Central Basketball League.
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), started its 2017 season this week with 10 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.
Women\'s American Basketball Association: The WABA, which is affiliated with the men\'s American Basketball Association, plans to restart in 2017 with a season running from August to October. The WABA currently lists its first four teams called the Jersey Expressions, Long Island Storm, Chicago Lady Steam and Kissimmee Splash. The WABA has been trying to get off the ground since it was first announced in 2011 and a handful of teams played exhibition games in 2012. The WABA was re-launched again in 2013 with plans for four regional divisions, but play did not start until the summer of 2014 with a short schedule that included only four active teams. Four teams called the Flint (MI) Monarchs, Milwaukee Aces, Minnesota Flame and Springfield (IL) Lady Grizzlies participated in another short season in the summer of 2015. The Jersey Expressions and Chicago Lady Steam had previous affiliations with the WABA.
Midwest Basketball League: The spring-summer semi-pro MBL started its second season this week that features 14 full-schedule teams aligned into seven-team divisions. The league also lists nine branding teams that will play some games in 2017 and could join as full-schedule teams in the future. The MBL had 11 teams last season, but the Hamilton (OH) Heroes and Northern Indiana Monarchs (South Bend) did not return. The 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 was reorganized as the Milwaukee Storm for 2017. The MBL season will run from late March to late June.
National Indoor Developmental League: A group of former Arena Football League owners and players is trying to organize the new NIDL. The league is based in Frisco (TX), which will have the league\'s first team called the Texas Outlaws. The league is talking with various ownership groups and plans to start play in 2018.
National Arena League: The new NAL, which started its inaugural 2017 season last week with eight teams, announced an expansion team called the Jersey Flight based in Trenton (NJ) will join the league for the 2018 season.
United States Premier Hockey League "" Premier Division: The Skipjacks Hockey Club announced plans to have a team based in York (PA) that will be part of the junior-level Tier-III USPHL Premier Division for the 2017-18 season.
National Hockey League: The group trying to renovate Seattle\'s KeyArena stated it could have a new arena ready in three to four years, if the NHL wants to place an expansion team in the city.
Federal Hockey League: The FHL held two regular-season games in Winston-Salem (NC) last weekend between the league\'s Danville Dashers and Port Huron Prowlers. Next season, Winston-Salem is to become home to an FHL expansion team called the Carolina Thunderbirds.
United Soccer League: The USL started its 2017 season this week with 30 teams aligned into a 15-team Eastern Conference and a 15-team Western Conference. The USL had 29 teams last season, but the FC Montreal and Wilmington (NC) Hammerheads did not return. The USL added the Reno 1868 FC expansion team, along with the Ottawa Fury and Tampa Bay Rowdies from the North American Soccer League. Tampa Bay and Ottawa were added to the Eastern Conference to replace the loss of Montreal and Wilmington, while Reno was added to the Western Conference and St. Louis FC was moved from the Western to the Eastern Conference. The Arizona United FC was renamed the Phoenix Rising for the 2017 season. The Orange County (CA) Blues were renamed the Orange County FC and became the affiliate of the 2018 Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team called Los Angeles FC. The USL was granted provisional Division-II status for the 2017 season and 21 of the 22 MLS teams for 2017 have some sort of affiliation with a USL team.
North American Soccer League: The NASL started its Spring Season this week with eight teams. Of the 12 teams from last season, the Minnesota United FC moved up to Major League Soccer; the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC moved to the United Soccer League; and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and OKC Rayos (Oklahoma City) dropped out. The league added an expansion team called the San Francisco Deltas and the Carolina RailHawks were renamed the North Carolina FC. All teams will play a 16-game schedule from late March to mid-July and a Fall Season will run from late July to late October 2017. The NASL maintained its Division-II status on a provisional basis for the 2017 season.
World TeamTennis: The WTT announced its 2017 season schedule will feature the same six teams as last season. The 2017 teams are the New York Empire, Orange County (CA) Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms, San Diego Aviators, Springfield (MO) Lasers and Washington (DC) Kastles. Each team will play 14 matches from July 16 through August 2.
Women\'s Premier League: The women\'s rugby league known as the Women\'s Premier League (WPL) will be expanding to ten teams for its fall 2017 season with the addition of the Boston-based Beantown RFC and the Chicago North Shore club. Beantown RFC previously played five seasons (2009-13) in the league. Beantown RFC will be added to the East region and Chicago North Shore to the West region.
Major League Rugby: The new Major League Rugby could be a new professional rugby league under development for a 2018 season. One new team called the Houston Strikers has committed to the new league.
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.