Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 14, 2017 - United Soccer League (USL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: A new ballpark for a proposed Frontier League team in Jackson (MI) has been pulled from plans to redesign the Jackson County Fairgrounds The group trying to build the ballpark ran into financing problems and funding from a ballpark naming rights deal failed to materialize.

Major League Baseball: MLB\'s Arizona Diamondbacks (Phoenix) have filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County over deteriorating conditions at Chase Field. The situation is bad enough there is talk that MLB could consider pulling the team from Phoenix.

Atlantic League: The Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League could be losing its home at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard. A long-term lease for the ballpark was put up for bid and the city has decided to redevelop it as an amphitheater for concerts and other events. The Bluefish have been playing at the ballpark since 1998 when the team became a charter member of the Atlantic League. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League manages the city\'s Webster Bank Arena and the team says the new amphitheater would violate the terms its arena lease that includes a non-compete clause prohibiting similar events in the city that would impact its revenue.

Coastal Plain League: The proposed new 2018 summer-collegiate CPL team planned for Macon (GA) has selected five nickname choices for voting on a name-the-team contest. These include the Macon Soul, Macon Bacon, Macon Hits, Macon Heat and Macon Noise.

BASKETBALL

North American Premier Basketball: The owner of the Rochester RazorSharks team, which has been a member of the Premier Basketball League since the 2008 season, recently made it official the team will be part of the new NAPB that plans to start play in January 2018 with 8 to 12 teams. The NAPB will have stricter ownership requirements and better pay for players than the PBL. Groups in Seattle and Vancouver Rochester and Las Vegas are expected to have teams in 2018 with Raleigh (NC), Kansas City, Albany (NY), Spokane (WA) and Hawaii said to be under consideration.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team called the Owensboro (KY) Colonels has joined the league. The ABA had a previous Owensboro-based team called the Kentucky Bisons that played two seasons (2008-10) in the league. One of the co-owners of the Colonels is also co-owner of the ABA\'s Kentucky Enforcers team based in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area.

Women\'s American Basketball Association: The WABA, which is affiliated with the men\'s American Basketball Association, started its 2017 season last weekend. All seven teams called the D.C. Cyclones, Jersey Expressions, Long Island Storm, Mount Vernon (NY) Shamrocks, Atlanta Justice, Middle Georgia Lady Pits (Dublin) and Orlando Splash were expected to be in action this weekend. The 2017 WABA season runs until the first week of October.

World Power League: The owner of the Lake Michigan Admirals (St. Joseph, MI), which was part of the Premier Basketball League from 2012 to 2016, is considering a World Power League made up of 16 teams representing 16 different countries. The Admirals have been playing internationally and the owner recently took back control of the team that will return to St. Joseph after a new owner ran into financial issues when trying to move the team to Warren (MI). It is uncertain if the Admirals will continue touring internationally or play in the new league.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: The AAL, which will be a merger of the 2017 Can-Am Indoor Football League (CAIFL) and Arena Pro Football (APF), announced the Upstate Dragons have joined the league and will play home games in Anderson (SC) for the 2018 season. The team played as a travel team in the 2017 Supreme Indoor Football (SIF) where it was originally called the Greenville (SC) Dragons when first joining the SIF. The SIF had a proposed 2017 team called the Anderson Gladiators that never made it to the start of the season. Prior to the SIF, the Anderson Gladiators were briefly a member of the Arena Developmental League, which eventually changed to the National Arena League before the start of its inaugural season in 2017.

HOCKEY

Federal Hockey League: The lower minor professional FHL announced the Danbury (CT) Titans team has ceased operations citing the high costs of workers\' compensation insurance for its players. The Titans joined the league for the 2015-16 season and replaced a previous FHL team called the Danbury Whalers. The Whalers were a charter member of the FHL and played in the league for five seasons (2011-15). A Titans dispersal draft was held with the league\'s six remaining teams for the 2017-18 season.

ECHL: Although the National Hockey League\'s St. Louis Blues do not have its own affiliation in the American Hockey League for the 2017-18 season, the Blues signed a one-year affiliation agreement with the Tulsa Oilers of the lower-level ECHL for 2017-18. The ECHL\'s Adirondack Thunder (Glens Falls, NY) lost their affiliation with the NHL\'s Calgary Flames after the 2016-17 season, but recently entered into an affiliation with the NHL\'s New Jersey Devils for the 2017-18 season. The ECHL\'s Brampton (Ontario) Beast are looking to sell a partial interest in the team and residents are upset because the city is funding the team at a rate of $500,000 per year as part of a three-year deal that started prior to last season.

Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League: The Aspen (CO) Leafs of the Tier-III junior-level RMJHL announced its under-20 team will sit out the upcoming 2017-18 season and the league will operate with only five teams. The league had hoped to have six teams in 2017-18 as the Breckenridge (CO) Bolts team will return after sitting out last season. The other four teams will included the Colorado Rampage, Colorado Thunderbirds, Pikes Peak Miners and Steamboat Wranglers.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The provisional Tier-II USL officially announced a new team based in Las Vegas will start play in the 2018 season along with two other previously announced new teams in Nashville and Fresno. The Las Vegas team will play at Cashman Field, which is home to the Las Vegas 51s baseball team in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL). The new team is holding a name-the-team contest with Las Vegas FC, Las Vegas Lights, Las Vegas Action, Viva Vegas, Club Vegas and Las Vegas Silver as the six possible choices. The USL is also planning for 2019 expansion and announced Birmingham (AL) will join the league for the 2019 season. The organization, currently called USL Birmingham until an official team name is announced, will field a team in the lower-level United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League for the 2018 season. The city has had an elite-level men\'s team called the Birmingham Hammers in the National Premier Soccer League for the past two seasons (2016-17) and a co-founder of that team will become a vice-president with the new USL team. The USL plans to return to Austin with a new team expected to start play in 2019. New ownership has taken control of a former USL franchise called the Austin Aztex that has not played since the 2015 season, during which the team lost its home field due to flooding. The new ownership will build a new 5,000-seat soccer-specific facility and will give the team a new identity. The majority owner of the Memphis Redbirds baseball team in the Triple-A PCL League is reported to be trying to bring a USL team to Memphis for the 2019 season. The team would play home games at the Redbirds\' AutoZone Park.

North American Soccer League: The provisional Division-II NASL started its 2017 Fall Season late last month with the same eight teams that were part of the 2017 Spring Season. Teams include FC Edmonton, Indy Fuel (Indianapolis), Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC, New York Cosmos, North Carolina FC, Puerto Rico FC and the San Francisco Deltas. The Fall Season runs through October and each team plays a 16-game schedule in both seasons. The winner of the Spring and Fall seasons earn a spot in the championship tournament that also includes the two clubs with the next-best overall records.

OTHER

Colorado Collegiate Box Lacrosse League: The new summer-collegiate CCBLL recently completed its inaugural season with four teams called the Bighorns, Fighting Bison, Gold Miners and Stoneflies. Each team played a 12-game schedule from mid-June through July with all games played at the Foothills Fieldhouse in Lakewood (CO). The CCBLL is governed by the U.S. Box Lacrosse Association and claims to be the first college box lacrosse league in the United States.

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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