Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 17, 2017 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League\'s York (PA) Revolution announced the team will become the York Pretzels for a regular-season game in August 2017 as a promotion to honor the area as the snack capital of America.

Pacific Coast League: The 16-team Triple-A PCL started its 2017 season earlier this month with one team changing its name. The New Orleans Zephyrs were renamed the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the off-season. Minor League Baseball\'s other Triple-A league, the 14-team International League, also started play this month with the same teams and alignment as last season.

Eastern League: The 12-team Double-A Eastern League started its 2017 season earlier this month with one team changing its name. The Binghamton Mets, or B-Mets, were renamed the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in the off-season. After playing the entire 2016 season on the road due to construction delays at its new downtown stadium, the league\'s Hartford Yard Goats finally opened its new stadium this season. The Yard Goats are the former New Britain (CT) Rock Cats team that relocated after the 2015 season. Minor League Baseball\'s ten-team Double-A Southern League started its 2017 earlier this month with one team name change. The Jacksonville Suns were renamed the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the off-season. Minor League Baseball\'s other Double-A league, the eight-team Texas League, also started play this month with the same teams and alignment as last season.

BASKETBALL

Women\'s National Basketball Association: The WNBA held its player draft this week for the 2017 season that will include the same 12 teams as last season.

Liga Mexicana de Baloncesto Profesional Feminil: Mexico\'s top women\'s national basketball league known as the LMBP-Feminil started its 2017 season early last month with 12 teams aligned into two six-team divisions called the Bajio-Occidente and the Centro-Sur. The league had nine teams last season, but a team called the Huastecas de Tamazunchale did not return and the league added four new teams called the Reinas de La Paz, Aztks del Estado de Mexico, Jarochas de Veracruz and the Hidalgo-based Leonas Cenhies-Maxtle.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team called the Utah Stars (Salt Lake City) will join the league for the 2017-18 season. The ABA had other Salt Lake City-based teams in the past called the Utah Snowbears and Salt Lake Saints, along with a few other proposed Utah and Salt Lake City teams that never started play.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: Two new 2017 indoor football leagues called Arena Pro Football and the Can-Am Indoor Football League announced this week the leagues will merge after the season and form the new American Arena League (AAL) for the 2018 season. The new AAL will have a Northern Division consisting of Canadian teams and United States-based teams north of the Virginia-Maryland border. A Southern Division will include U.S. teams south of the Virginia-Maryland border and also any western teams. The AAL reports it has signed an expansion team from eastern Virginia and is in discussions with teams in western and central North Carolina and three in South Carolina.

The Spring League: The Spring League, which is a new four-team instructional league that serves as a developmental platform and showcase for professional football talent, started its inaugural season this weekend. Teams are simply referred to as East, West, North and South. The league will play a total of six games this month at the Greenbrier Resort\'s football facility in White Sulphur Springs (WV), about 120 miles southeast of Charleston (WV).

HOCKEY

ECHL: Voters in Grand Junction (CO) rejected a sales tax increase that would have helped fund a new event center that officials had hoped would become home to an ECHL team and possibly a team in the National Basketball Association D-League.

North American Tier-III Hockey League: The Battle Creek-based West Michigan Wolves of the Tier-III junior-level NA3HL will be relocating to become the Lansing (MI) Wolves for the 2017-18 season.

United States Premier Hockey League - Premier: A new team called the Wisconsin Muskies (Spooner) will be part of the Tier-III junior-level USPHL-Premier league in the 2017-18 season.

SOCCER

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL has mentioned plans to create a new league called the MASL2, which would be at a level between the MASL and the MASL\'s current official developmental league called the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL). Some current PASL teams like the Cincinnati Swerve, Houston Hotshots and Freedom FC (Edwards, CO) have been mentioned as possible teams for the new MASL2.

National Premier Soccer League: Some of the West region teams in the men\'s elite-level NPSL have started their 2017 season. The NPSL has posted its entire 2017 league alignment that will feature 96 teams in four regions further divided into regional divisions: West (Golden Gate, Northwest and Southwest), Northeast (Atlantic Blue, Atlantic White, Keystone and Mid-Atlantic), South (Heartland, Lone Star, Southeast and Sunshine) and Midwest (East, Great Lakes and North).

United Women\'s Soccer: The pro-am UWS has finalized its 2017 schedule and alignment that will feature 21 teams in a nine-team East Conference, a five-team West Conference and a new seven-team Midwest Conference. The UWS had a five-team West Conference and a six-team East Conference for its inaugural 2016 season, as the league tried to fill a void when United Soccer Leagues\' W-League folded after the 2015 season. In the East Conference, the TSF Academy Valkyries (Lincoln Park, NJ) did not return, but the New York Surf and Western New York Flash (Buffalo) were added. In the West Conference, the Colorado Pride (Colorado Springs) and Colorado Storm (Denver) did not return, but the Calgary Foothills and SoCal Crush were added. The UWS expanded with an entirely new Midwest Conference consisting of the Detroit Sun, FC Indiana (South Bend), Fort Wayne United, Grand Rapids FC, Indy Premier, Michigan Legends (Detroit area) and the Toledo Villa.

OTHER

Super Rugby: The international 18-team Super Rugby league, which is considering the addition of teams in the United States and Canada, will contract to 15 teams for its 2018 season. It could be 2020 before North American teams are added, but possible locations have not been announced.

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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