Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 10, 2017 - American Hockey League (AHL)

July 9, 2017 [Volume 11, Number 28]

BASEBALL

International League: The Syracuse Chiefs of the Triple-A International League will become the Syracuse Salt Potatoes as part of promotion for one game next month. The league\'s Rochester Red Wings will become the Rochester Plates for one game as a tribute to a local dish called the Garbage Plate. The league\'s Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox, or PawSox, can start considering new ballpark proposals from other cities after an exclusive negotiating period with Pawtucket ended last week. The city of Worcester (MA) is interested in the team, but would still have to finance and build a new ballpark. The PawSox\'s lease at its current stadium ends after the 2020 season.

Carolina League: The chamber of commerce in Prince William County (VA) has voiced its support for a new stadium to be built in Woodbridge (VA) for the Potomac Nationals of the high Class-A Carolina League. The team\'s owner has threatened to sell the team to an out-of-town buyer if a new stadium deal is not completed by the end of this month.

New York-Penn League: As part of its tribute to the Friends comedy series in a game this coming September, the NYPL\'s Tri-City ValleyCats will be renamed the Tri-City SmellyCats after the "Smelly Cat" song that was made popular during the series.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball League of Canada: A potential ownership group is trying to bring an NBL-Canada team to St. John\'s (Newfoundland), possibly in time for the 2017-18 season. Another group headed by the chief operating officer of the American Hockey League\'s St. John\'s IceCaps had expressed interested in applying for an NBL-Canada team, but was unable to work out a lease at the Mile One Centre. The Mile One Centre lost the IceCaps as a tenant with their relocation to Laval (Quebec) for 2017-18.

Women\'s American Basketball Association: The WABA will give it another try and announced its 2017 season schedule that will feature seven teams each playing seven to eight games from August 5 to October 2. Teams include the D.C. Cyclones, Jersey Expression, Long Island Storm and Mt. Vernon (NY) Shamrocks in the Northeast and Atlanta Justice, Middle Georgia Lady Pits (Dublin) and Orlando Splash in the Southeast. The league wants to expand for next season with teams in the West and the South. Expansion teams called the Boston Clovers and Queen City Charm (Charlotte) have already been announced for 2018.

Women\'s Minor League Basketball Association: The WMLBA is into the first month of its inaugural season that now includes only six teams: the Dallas Lightning, Midwest Reign (Kansas City, KS), San Antonio Troopers, Houston Galaxy, Tennessee Storm (Jackson) and Carolina Stars (Columbia, SC). A team called the Georgia Classic (Evans) was listed on the original season schedule, but it has been removed and the league standings currently list six teams.

FOOTBALL

National Arena League: The Capital City Reapers (Richmond, VA) team, which was the 2017 champion of the amateur-level Mid-Atlantic Indoor Football League, plans to play professionally in 2018 and is reported to be considering the NAL as its new home. The city\'s other indoor football team called the Richmond Roughriders completed its first season as part of the Arena Pro Football league, but was also reported to be considering a switch to the NAL for 2018.

Champions Indoor Football: The ownership of the CIF\'s Dodge City (KS) Law franchise appears to be having financial trouble. The league wants to keep a team in Dodge City and it is looking into whether or not money is owed to the league and fans. Last month, the team was forced to forfeit one playoff game for failing to follow league rules. The Dodge City Law started as a 2014 expansion team in the former Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL) and became part of the new CIF in 2015 after a merger of the CPIFL and the Lone Star Football League.

Indoor Football League: The owner of the Wichita Falls (TX) Nighthawks of the IFL is considering a move of the team to another league, possibly the Champions Indoor Football league. The current IFL is more spread out geographically, while the CIF had four Texas-based teams in 2017. Prior to the 2017 season, the Nighthawks\' owner had threatened to move the team out of the city, possibly to Tulsa, if attendance did not improve. The Wichita Falls Nighthawks joined the IFL as an expansion team for the 2015 season.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL announced it will definitely expand to 31 teams next season so it can have one affiliate with each of the 31 National Hockey League teams. For the upcoming 2017-18 season, the NHL will have 31 teams and the AHL will have only 30 teams. The NHL\'s St. Louis Blues are without its own AHL affiliate and are placing prospects with the Chicago Wolves, who are now the AHL affiliate of the NHL\'s expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Fresno, Tucson and Salt Lake City have been mentioned as potential AHL cities in the past and the Loveland-based Colorado Eagles of the ECHL have expressed interest in moving up to the AHL as a possible affiliate of the NHL\'s Colorado Avalanche.

Federal Hockey League: The operators of the First Arena in Elmira (NY) are reported to be in discussions with a group that could bring an FHL team to the arena. The city wants to find a replacement for the ECHL\'s Elmira Jackals team that suspended operations after the 2016-17 season. A proposed team called the Elmira Express was listed earlier this year as one of the members of the new International Developmental Hockey League, which is to be a feeder league to the FHL starting with the 2017-18 season.

North American Hockey League: USA Hockey\'s Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced its schedule and 23-team alignment for the upcoming 2017-18 season. The league had 24 teams last season, but the Wichita Falls (TX) Wildcats team was shut down after the 2016-17 season. The Wildcats were removed from the South Division and the rest of the alignment remained the same. The 2017-18 season runs from September 13, 2017 to April 7, 2018.

Eastern Women\'s Hockey Conference: The New England Women\'s Junior Hockey League, which started play in 2014 and operated with five teams for the 2016-17 season, has been rebranded as the EWHC for the 2017-18 season. Four NEWJHL teams from this past season will join three Ontario-based Canadian teams and a Chinese team in an eight-team Gold Division with each team playing a 28-game season. The EWHC will also have a Silver Division with four lower-level teams playing in showcase games only.

SOCCER

United Soccer League Division-III League: The South Georgia Tormenta FC (Statesboro) of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL) is looking to build a new soccer stadium for a possible move up to the new USL Division-III League that will start play in 2019. USL officials are interested in another PDL team called the Des Moines (IA) Menace possibly making the move to the USL Division-III League. Over the past couple of months, USL officials have visited various Southeast and Midwest markets under consideration for the new league. In the Southeast, these markets included Lexington (KY), Knoxville (TN), Greenville (SC), Asheville (NC) and Columbia (SC), while the Midwest included Grand Rapids (MI), Fort Wayne (IN), Lansing (MI), Dayton (OH), Toledo (OH) and Des Moines.

Major League Soccer: The group trying to bring an MLS expansion franchise to Detroit has registered the Detroit City Soccer Club, or Detroit City SC, as the name for the proposed MLS team. There is currently a semi-pro team called Detroit City FC that plays in the National Premier Soccer League and is interested in turning professional in the future.

OTHER

Pro12 Rugby League: The Ireland-based professional rugby union Pro12 league is trying to add a team in the United States that would be based in Washington (DC) and play at the new soccer stadium being built for the D.C. United of Major League Soccer. The Washington Pro12 team would start play for the 2018-19 season. The Pro12 has teams in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.

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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