Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 7, 2017 - Major League Soccer (MLS)

BASEBALL

International League: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Allentown, PA) of the Triple-A International League will be playing a game next weekend as the Lehigh Valley Barbeque as part of a 1970s-themed promotion.

Major League Baseball: MLB announced it will add international regular-season games in Asia, London and Mexico over the next four seasons (2018-21).

Atlantic League: A public hearing was held in High Point (NC) on a proposed new downtown ballpark that could become home to a team in the independent Atlantic League. Officials are looking at the 2019 season for the ballpark opening. High Point has affiliated teams in nearby Greensboro and Winston-Salem and is home to a summer-collegiate team in the Coastal Plain League.

Coastal Plain League: The proposed new 2018 summer-collegiate CPL team planned for Macon (GA) has extended its name-the-team contest to allow fans to submit nickname suggestions into next week.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada operated with ten teams last season, but the recent folding of the Orangeville (Ontario) A\'s leaves the Central Division at only four teams. A proposed new Central Division team announced for Sudbury (Ontario) plans to join the league, but is not expected to start play until the 2018-19 season. A proposed new team announced earlier this year for St. John\'s (Newfoundland & Labrador) was to give the league a six-team Atlantic Division, but the ownership group that was granted the franchise by the league does not yet have an arena lease and it is uncertain if that team will start play in the 2017-18 season.

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: Mexico\'s top professional basketball league known as the LNBP recently announced its 2017-18 season will feature 12 teams when it starts play in October 2017. All ten teams from last season will return with the Barreteros de Zacatecas being renamed the Mineros de Zacatecas. The LNBP added two new teams called the Libertadores de Queretaro and the Capitanes de la Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico City) for the 2017-18 season. An LNBP team called the Libertadores de Queretaro played in the 2009 season. The league most recently had a Mexico City team called the Gigantes in the 2015-16 season and has had several other Mexico City teams called the La Ola, Estrellas, Pilares, and Titanes come and go over the past ten-plus years.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: The Triangle Torch (Raleigh, NC) indoor football team, which was part of the 2017 league known as Supreme Indoor Football, has joined the new AAL for its inaugural 2018 season. The AAL was a merger of the 2017 Can-Am Indoor Football League (CAIFL) and Arena Pro Football (APF). The AAL also lists the Savannah Coast Outlaws team from the 2017 APF as a new member.

Champions Indoor Football: A proposed new team called the Quad City Steamwheelers (Moline, IL) is reported to be trying to start play next season in either the CIF or the Indoor Football League, but an arena lease still needs to be signed. A previous team called the Quad City Steamwheers played in all ten seasons (2000-09) of the former arenafootball2 (af2), which was a minor league to the original Arena Football League.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League\'s St. Louis Blues will be without its own AHL affiliate for the 2017-18 season, but the Blues are expected to work out a deal for an AHL affiliate next season as the AHL will expand to 31 teams to match the NHL\'s 31 teams. The St. Louis Blues are reported to be close to making the AHL\'s San Antonio Rampage its AHL affiliate next season. The Rampage is currently the affiliate of the NHL\'s Colorado Avalanche, but the ECHL\'s Loveland-based Colorado Eagles team is trying to move up to the AHL where it wants to become the affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche.

International Developmental Hockey League: The proposed senior-level IDHL, which was to start play in October 2017 as a feeder to the Federal Hockey League, now states the league will begin play with the 2018-19 season. The IDHL LLC, which ownes the new IDHL and was made up of several FHL investors, recently purchased the FHL\'s Watertown (NY) Wolves to stabilize the team in that market.

National Hockey League: The owner of the NHL\'s Carolina Hurricanes confirmed he is in the process of selling the team, but an actual purchase agreement with the new ownership has yet to be finalized. The State of New York is seeking proposals to develop a site at Belmont Park on Long Island and the NHL\'s New York Islanders are expected to submit a bid to use the land for a new arena. The Islanders moved from Long Island to Brooklyn\'s Barclays Center for the 2015-16 season but are not happy with that site.

Independent Junior Hockey League: The proposed new IJHL had planned to start play in the 2017-18 season with a six-team Eastern Conference based around the Great Lakes, but many of the previously announced teams like the Cleveland Chill, Dayton Falcons, Fort Wayne Whalers and Howell (MI) Coyotes have disappeared and the future of the league is uncertain.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The 30-team provisional Division-II USL plans to grow to 33 teams next season with new teams planned for Fresno, Las Vegas and Nashville. The league will extend its season schedule and will remain in a two-conference alignment for the 2018 season. The USL\'s new Fresno FC team is working to purchase the city\'s lower-level Fresno Fuego team in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League, so the Fuego can serve as the development team for the Fresno FC.

North American Soccer League: The new Orange County (CA) team in the provisional Division-II NASL will be called the California United FC when it starts play next season. The NASL is reported to be working on new teams in San Diego and Atlanta that could also start play in 2018.

Major League Soccer: After much uncertainty, the group trying to bring an MLS expansion team to Miami has reached an agreement to acquire the land for its stadium site and is waiting formal approval to join the league. This could make Miami the league\'s 24th team with the new Los Angeles FC set to start play next season as the 23rd team. A proposed SoccerCity stadium development in San Diego for a possible future MLS team has been put on hold until a vote on the project takes place in November 2018.

OTHER

National Rugby Football League: The proposed new NRFL had hoped to start play this year as a professional rugby union fifteens league with an April to July schedule, but its future is uncertain. The NRFL held some combines last year but has had difficulties getting sanctioning from USA Rugby.

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.

• Discuss this story on the Major League Soccer message board