Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 5, 2017 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball: The independent Pacific Association started its fifth season this weekend with the same four teams as last season. All teams are based in Northern California and include the Pittsburg Diamonds, San Rafael Pacifics, Sonoma Stompers and Vallejo Admirals. The 2017 season runs through August. The league announced a fifth team called the Napa Silverados will be added in 2018, along with a yet-to-be-announced sixth team.

Pacific Coast League: The Round Rock (TX) Express of the Triple-A PCL was renamed the Round Rock Jackalopes for games this weekend as part of a "What Could Have Been" promotion. The Jackalopes name was one of the nicknames under consideration when the Round Rock Express was formed for the 2000 season as part of the Double-A Texas League. The Round Rock Express then moved up to the Triple-A level for the 2005 season taking over the PCL\'s former Edmonton Trappers franchise.

Expedition League: A proposed new summer-collegiate baseball league called the Expedition League plans to start play next year with ten teams based in the Great Plains region of the United States and Canada. Nine of the locations include Brandon (Manitoba), Dickinson (ND), Minot (ND), Aberdeen (SD), Pierre (SD), Spearfish (SD), Hastings (NE), Gering (NE) and Casper (WY).

Minor League Baseball: A stadium and arena development group is interested in building a ballpark in Clarksville (TN) for a possible affiliated team under MiLB. A ballpark would be part of a multi-sport athletic complex. No specific league has been mentioned for a proposed baseball team.

Northwoods League: A development group has expressed interest in converting a racetrack in Hudson (WI) to a complex that would include a ballpark for a proposed team in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League. The league\'s Battle Creek (MI) Bombers and Kalamazoo (MI) Growlers were renamed the Battle Creek Burritos and the Kalamazoo Corn Dogs for one game as part of a Food Fight promotion.

Atlantic League: The city of High Point (NC) is in the process of selecting a construction firm for a new ballpark, which could eventually become home to a proposed team in the independent Atlantic League.

South Atlantic League: The Asheville (NC) Tourists of the low Class-A SAL were renamed the Beer City Tourists for one game this weekend as part of a tribute to the local craft beer industry.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): After purchasing the D-League\'s Des Moines-based Iowa Energy earlier this year, the NBA\'s Minnesota Timberwolves have rebranded the team the Iowa Wolves for the 2017-18 season. The Iowa Energy joined the league for the 2007-08 season. The NBA\'s Memphis Grizzlies acquired rights to a D-League team earlier this year and recently announced the team will be called the Memphis Hustle when it starts play in Southaven (MS) for the 2017-18 season. Memphis had been affiliated with the Iowa Energy for the past three seasons. The NBA\'s Washington (DC) Wizards are planning to start its own D-League team for the 2018-19 season, if construction of a new 4,200-seat arena is completed. The arena would also be home to the Washington Mystics of the Women\'s National Basketball Association. The NBA\'s Miami Heat announced it has purchased a controlling interest in the D-League\'s Sioux Falls (SD) Skyforce team. The Heat will run the basketball operations under the hybrid affiliation while local ownership continues to run the business side. The D-League will be renamed the NBA Gatorade League, or the G-League, starting with the 2017-18 season.

FOOTBALL

American 7s Football League: The A7FL is nearing the end of its third season of 7-on-7 full-contact football in which players wear no pads or helmets. A total of 16 teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland are aligned in eight-team South and North divisions.

China Arena Football League: The CAFL, which is considered a professional developmental league for the U.S.-based Arena Football League, recently posted the schedule for its second season to be called the Super Series II. The league had talked of expanding from six to eight teams, but it will have six teams representing Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Shenyang and Wuhan in 2017. The season involves five weekend events held in five different CAFL\'s cities from late September to late October. Each event will feature three games involving all six teams. Beijing will host final championship event.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The Quad City Mallards (East Moline, IL) will serve as the ECHL affiliate for the National Hockey League\'s expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights starting with the 2017-18 season. Last month, the Golden Knights announced an American Hockey League affiliation with the Chicago Wolves.

Federal Hockey League: The minor professional FHL will be holding a combined tryout camp later this month with its new feeder league called the International Developmental Hockey League, which plans to start play in October 2017. The IDHL says it will be a senior hockey league for players of ages 20 to 23 and it will have teams in Canada and the northeastern United States. At one time, the IDHL listed six member teams called the Syracuse Crush, Baldwinsville (NY) Bandits, Watertown (NY) Whalers, Elmira (NY) Express, Palmyra (PA) Battalion and Newark (DE) Diamonds.

SOCCER

United Women\'s Soccer: The pro-am UWS started its second season last month and has grown from 11 teams to 20 teams aligned in an eight-team East Conference, a five-team West Conference and a new seven-team Midwest Conference. Last season\'s six-team East Conference lost the TSF Academy Valkyries (Lincoln Park, NJ), but added new teams called the New York Surf, Western New York Flash (Buffalo) and the Rochester (NY) Lancers. Last season\'s five-team West Conference lost the Colorado Pride (Colorado Springs) and Colorado Storm (Denver), but added new teams called the Calgary Foothills and SoCal Crush. The new eight-team Midwest Conference includes the Detroit Sun, FC Indiana (South Bend), Fort Wayne United, Grand Rapids FC, Indy Premier (Indianapolis), Michigan Legends (Detroit area) and the Toledo Villa. The 2017 UWS season runs through mid-July.

United Soccer League: The owner of the Omaha Storm Chasers baseball team in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League announced plans to bring a USL expansion team to Omaha as early as the 2019 season.

American Soccer League: As the developmental professional ASL finishes its 2017 spring season this month, the league announced it is in serious discussions with ten groups that want to join as ASL expansion teams. These groups are located in Atlanta, Savannah, Northern Virginia, West Virginia, Orlando, Tampa, Coral Springs (FL), Fort Lauderdale, Minneapolis and Tennessee. The league will consider expansion on a regional basis to minimize travel expenses.

Major Arena Soccer League: The Rochester Lancers are considering a return to the MASL for the 2017-18 season. The Rochester Lancers indoor team was part of the former Major Indoor Soccer League for three season (2011-14) and moved to the new MASL for the 2014-15 season before dropping out. The Rochester Lancers operate a men\'s outdoor team by that name in the National Premier Soccer League and a Rochester Lancers women\'s team is part of United Women\'s Soccer.

National Women\'s Soccer League: The Sky Blue FC (Piscataway, NJ) of the professional NWSL recently announced the New York Surf (Bronx) of United Women\'s Soccer will serve as Sky Blue\'s official amateur reserve team.

OTHER

National Pro Fastpitch: The women\'s professional NPF softball league started its 2017 season this week with six teams called the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Scrap Yard Dawgs (Houston), Texas Charge (San Marcos), USSSA Florida Pride (Viera) and a travel team called the Beijing Eagles, which is managed by the Chinese Softball Association. The league had six teams last season, but the Pennsylvania Rebellion (Washington) did not return after three seasons in the league and was replaced by the Beijing Eagles. Last season\'s Dallas Charge moved from McKinney (TX) to San Marcos and became the Texas Charge for the 2017 season. The USSSA Florida Pride had been based in Kissimmee, but moved to Space Coast Stadium in Viera for 2017. The NPF season runs through August 2017.

Super Sevens Rugby League: The company that runs the USA Sevens rugby tournament in Las Vegas announced its plans to start a league playing seven-player rugby. Super 7s will start with a six-city barnstorming "Pro Tour" across the United States next July. League play will start in 2019 with city-based teams. The league will have six men\'s teams and six women\'s teams with players coming from college and club programs in the United States and Canada.

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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