Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 3, 2017 - ECHL (ECHL)

By Dan Krieger

July 2, 2017 [Volume 11, Number 27]

BASEBALL

Empire Professional Baseball League: The four-team independent Empire League started its 2017 season last weekend. The league played its inaugural season in 2016 with four teams, but the Watertown (NY) Bucks and New Hampshire Wild (Rindge) did not return. The new Plattsburgh (NY) RedBirds team and a Puerto Rico Islanders travel team were added for 2017, while the Sullivan (NY) Explorers and Old Orchard Beach (ME) Surge returned from last season. Teams play a 60-game season through August.

Midwest League: The Peoria Chiefs of the low Class-A Midwest League played a game this week as the Peoria Distillers as a tribute to a team from the early 1900s.

American Association: Milwaukee County (WI) has agreed to sell land in the Franklin area of Milwaukee to the developer of a new complex that will include a ballpark for a possible team in the independent American Association. The league announced earlier this year an expansion team based in Rosemont (IL) near Chicago will join for the 2018 season.

South Atlantic League (SALLY): The Asheville (NC) Tourists of the low Class-A SALLY were renamed the Asheville Hippies for one game this week. The Tourists were referred to as "Hippies" last season by the league\'s Greenville (SC) Drive team, so the Tourists and Drive entered into a challenge as to which team would win the 24-game regular-season series in 2016 with the losing team taking either the Asheville Hippies name or the Greenville Rednecks name. The series was a tie, so the Tourists considered it a loss and agreed to become the Hippies, but Greenville has not agreed to become the Rednecks.

International League: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Allentown, PA) of the International League are the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies and were renamed the Lehigh Valley Whiz Kids for one game this past week as part of its "Salute to Philadelphia Night". The name is a tribute to the 1950 Phillies team known as the Whiz Kids, along with a tribute to Philadelphia cheesesteaks with Cheez Whiz. In an effort to keep the league\'s Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox from moving to another city, such as Worcester (MA), the state governor is pushing a bill before the legislature on a funding proposal for a new ballpark in Pawtucket.

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball: The independent Pacific Association officially announced it will add the Napa (CA) Silverados team for the 2018 season. The league is currently operating with four California-based teams (Pittsburg Diamonds, San Rafael Pacifics, Sonoma Stompers and Vallejo Admirals) for the 2017 season and it is also working on adding a sixth team for next season.

Carolina League: The new Buies Creek Astros of the high Class-A Carolina League are temporarily playing at Campbell University until construction of a new ballpark in downtown Fayetteville (NC) is completed for the 2019 season. The team plans to change to a Fayetteville nickname when it moves to the new stadium and five nickname finalists were recently announced. These include the Fatbacks, Fly Traps, Jumpers, Wood Dogs and Woodpeckers.

Can-Am League: Some city officials in Ramapo (NY) are looking to close down the local ballpark that is home to the Rockland Boulders of the independent Can-Am League. There was a misstatement of the city\'s finances and sources of revenue to repay bonds used to build the ballpark, so the organization running the ballpark might not be able to keep operating it at a loss. The Rockland Boulders joined the league as an expansion team for the 2011 season.

BASKETBALL

BIG3 League: The new BIG3 professional 3-on-3 basketball league, which features eight touring teams consisting of former National Basketball Association players, held its first four-game touring event in Brooklyn last weekend featuring all eight teams in action. The BIG3 includes teams called the 3-Headed Monsters, 3\'s Company, Ball Hogs, Ghost Ballers, Killer 3s, Power, Trilogy and Tri-State. All teams will participate in all eight Sunday events from June 25 to August 13 to be held at eight different locations throughout the United States.

Women\'s American Basketball Association: The WABA announced its divisional line-up for its return next month. The Northeast Division features the Boston Clovers, D.C. Cyclones, Jersey Expression, Long Island Storm and Mt. Vernon (NY) Shamrocks. The Southeast Division consists of the Atlanta Justice, Middle Georgia Lady Pits (Dublin), Orlando Splash and Queen City Charm (Charlotte). Each team will play an eight-game schedule starting on August 5, 2017. The Orlando Splash was originally announced as the Kissimmee Splash. Some other previously listed teams included the Chicago Lady Steam, Texas Lady Red Wolves, Florida Allstars, Maryland Lady Bulldogs (Salisbury) and WNY Snowflakes.

FOOTBALL

American Flag Football League: The proposed new AFFL was launched this week as an inaugural trial game was played in San Jose between two teams called Team Owens and Team Vick. The AFFL is planning to have eight league-owned teams ready to kick off for an inaugural season in 2018.

American Arena League: The Georgia Doom indoor football team, which played some games as a fill-in for the National Arena League\'s (NAL) Atlanta-based Wolfpack travel team in 2017, officially announced plans to move to Macon (GA) for the 2018 season and the team will be part of the new AAL, not the NAL. The Doom originated as the Duluth-based Atlanta Doom before changing to the Georgia Doom and announcing its intention to move to Macon earlier this year. The AAL was created from the merger of two 2017 leagues called Arena Pro Football and the Can-Am Indoor Football League.

Rivals Professional Football League: The developmental RPFL started the 2017 schedule for its four-team Northern Conference of teams last weekend. The four Michigan-based teams are the Detroit Cougars, Michigan Bearcats, Oakland County Racers and Pontiac Generals. Each team plays a six-game schedule over the next six weeks. Two games are played each weekend at one location, which is either in Pontiac or Madison Heights. The RPFL\'s Southern Conference, which consisted of four Florida-based teams called the Miami Blaze, South Beach Silverbacks, Florida Red Wolves and Atlantic Sharks, recently completed its six-week season that ran from late March through April with all games played at a stadium in Hialeah (FL) near Miami. The top team from each conference is expected to meet in a championship game.

HOCKEY

Federal Hockey League: The FHL held its dispersal draft last month for players on the Berlin (NH) River Drivers team that folded after the 2016-17 season. The FHL recently announced its 2017-18 season schedule that will again feature seven teams with the Carolina Thunderbirds (Winston-Salem, NC) expansion team replacing the departed Berlin River Drivers. The league\'s Watertown (NY) Wolves team was recently purchased by some of the investors involved in the new International Development Hockey League, which is supposed to start play this fall as a feeder league for the FHL.

ECHL: With the folding of the ECHL\'s Elmira Jackals after the 2016-17 season, a potential buyer of the Jackals\' former home arena had hoped to bring a replacement hockey team to the arena in the future. Local county officials involved in the arena sale recently announced the potential buyer has now withdrawn from negotiations to purchase the arena.

SOCCER

North American Soccer League: The provisional Division-II NASL plans to announce a new San Diego team that will start play in the 2018 season. The team would start out at Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego and move to a proposed new 10,000-seat stadium sometime next year. This will be the league\'s third California-based team, as the San Francisco Deltas joined this season and a Fullerton-based Orange County team was announced last month for a 2018 start.

Major Arena Soccer League: The new Toronto-based MASL expansion team, which will start play at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga for the 2018-19 season, announced this week its involvement with the new Canadian Arena Soccer Association (CASA) that was created to grow the arena soccer game in Canada. Below the MASL team in the CASA will be the new semi-pro Arena Premier League, which will play games at the Hershey Centre, and an under-18 Youth Arena Premier League.

OTHER

Box Lacrosse League: The newly renamed semi-pro BLL, which operated as the Continental Indoor Lacrosse League for the past four seasons, announced the dates for its first two showcase weekends to be held in August 2017. Additional showcases will be held in September with a championship in mid-October. Participating teams for 2017 include the Chicago Outlaws, Circle City Copperheads (Indianapolis), Cleveland Demons, Detroit Coney Dogs, Grand Rapids Dragonfish, St. Louis Centurions and Wallaceburg (Ontario) Satans. The league has mentioned possible future expansion with western and southern divisions being considered. 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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