Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 21, 2017 - United Soccer League (USL)

BASEBALL

International League: Officials in Worcester (MA) voted to pass a resolution to move forward with trying to lure the Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox, or PawSox, of the Triple-A International League to the city. The PawSox have a lease that runs through the 2020 season in Pawtucket, but it is uncertain if the city will support the team\'s efforts to build a new stadium to replace the aging McCoy Stadium. Worcester would still need to find a suitable site and develop a financing plan for a new stadium.

Pacific Coast League: The Las Vegas 51s of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League are optimistic the team can replace its current Cashman Field, which will be shared with a United Soccer League team next season. The 51s have focusing on a stadium site in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin next to the new training facility built for the Vegas Knights expansion team in the National Hockey League. If the 51s do move, Cashman Field could be converted to a soccer-only facility.

Atlantic League: Since the Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League could be losing their home ballpark as early as next season, the team owner is exploring options in other markets that might want to host the Bluefish.

Appalachian League: The city of Elizabethton (TN) has approved funds for upgrades to the local minor league baseball field as suggested by the Elizabethton Twins of the advanced Rookie-level Appalachian League and league officials. The mayor of Elizabethton was concerned the parent Minnesota Twins team would begin looking at other markets for their affiliate if the stadium was not improved.

Expedition League: The proposed new summer-collegiate Expedition League plans to start play in 2018 with ten teams playing a 64-game season. Teams are being planned for the South Dakota cities of Pierre, Aberdeen, Spearfish and Rapid City; the North Dakota cities of Minot and Dickinson; the Nebraska cities of Gering and Hastings; Casper (WY) and Brandon (Manitoba).

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced the team called the Topeka (KS) Steel has been added to the league\'s Great Plains Division as a full-schedule team for the upcoming 2017-18 season. The Topeka Steel was a travel team in the 2016-17 season and evolved from a 2015-16 ABA team called the Topeka Aviators. The Aviators\' owner had also tried to organize an ABA team called the Kansas City (KS) Steel for the 2016-17 season, but that team disappeared and a short time later the Topeka Aviators switched to the Steel name for the 2016-17 season.

Seattle Pro-Am Basketball League: The Seattle Pro-Am was renamed the Crawsover League just prior to the start of its 2017 season early last month. The league had nine teams this season with eight teams qualifying for the playoffs, which started this weekend. Teams include Team Adidas, Worldwide SM, NFA, Ball is Life, SB Battle, Bellingham Slam, The Unit, Kitsap Admirals and Tacoma Thunder.

Ladies Basketball League: A new women\'s professional basketball league known as the LBL plans to start play in January 2018 with teams in the United States, Canada and Mexico playing an eight-game schedule. When the LBL was first announced in May, it was planning to start in July 2017.

Midwest Professional Basketball Association: After playing two winter seasons (2015-16), the MPBA announced plans in January to switch to a summer season in 2017, but that has yet to start play.

FOOTBALL

Championship Indoor Football: The CIF announced the Quad City Steamwheelers (Moline, IL) team has been accepted into the league and will start play in the 2018 season. A previous team called the Quad City Steamwheelers played in all ten seasons (2000-09) of the former arenafootball2 (af2), which was a minor league to the original Arena Football League. The league\'s Centex Cavalry (Belton, TX) announced the team will sit out the 2018 season and try to reorganize for a return in 2019. The Centex Cavalry was a new team for 2017 and lasted only one season. Two Indoor Football League (IFL) teams called the Sioux Falls (SD) Storm and Wichita Falls (TX) Nighthawks are said to have joined the CIF, while the five remaining IFL teams (Iowa Barnstormers, Cedar Rapids Titans, Nebraska Danger, Arizona Rattlers and Green Bay Blizzard) are reported to be in negotiations to move to the CIF for the 2018 season.

Global Indoor Developmental: The organizer of a proposed indoor league known as the Global Indoor League, which originated as the Global Indoor Football League and never got off the ground with teams that were to play under 3-down Canadian indoor football rules, has now shifted to a professional developmental model under the new GID. The new league is looking for markets in Canada and in the Midwest and West Coast regions of the United States. When the GID concept was first announced in April 2017, it was to be a developmental league for the GIL. The GIL was closed down this summer and both brands were merged into the new GID, which will also play under 3-down Canadian indoor football rules.

The Spring League: The Spring League, which is an instructional league that serves as a developmental platform and showcase for professional football talent, is considering Austin as one possible location to serve as its home base for a second season in 2018. The Spring League started with four teams in 2017 and ended up playing only three of six scheduled games at the Greenbrier Resort\'s football facility in White Sulphur Springs (WV), about 120 miles southeast of Charleston (WV). Players in the league are looking to showcase their skills for National Football League teams.

HOCKEY

Southern Professional Hockey League: The SPHL is no longer considering an investor\'s attempt to start a new SPHL team known as the Columbus (GA) Burn, which was to replace the league\'s Columbus Cottonmouths team that shut down operations after the 2016-17 season. The investor apparently has an arena lease with the city and might look at starting a team in another league. The Columbus Cottonmouths owner sold the SPHL franchise rights to a new team in Birmingham (AL) and rights to the Columbus market went back to the league. The Columbus Cottonmouths were an original member of the SPHL when the league started play for the 2004-05 season.

United States Hockey League: The Bloomington (IL) Thunder of the Tier-I USHL, which is at the highest level of junior hockey under USA Hockey, is considering a name change that could take effect for the 2017-18 season. The team is reported to be considering the Central Illinois Flying Aces as its new name, but it might also wait until next season for the name change. The Bloomington Thunder joined the USHL as an expansion team for the 2014-15 season and its team name came from a minor professional team called the Bloomington Thunder that had played in the Southern Professional Hockey League the previous season.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The new stadium being built in Amarillo for the relocated San Antonio Missions baseball team from the Double-A Texas League will also be designed to accommodate a team in the USL. The stadium is expected to be ready for the 2019 season. Fans in Austin have raised concerns over plans to build a new stadium for a proposed USL team locaed 25 miles outside of the city rather than in the downtown area.

National Premier Soccer League: The Detroit City FC of the men\'s elite-level NPSL is looking to move up to a Division-II or Division-III professional league in the near future. The club\'s owners are talking to the provisional Division-II North American Soccer League and the proposed new Division-III National Independent Soccer Association that plans to start play in 2019.

Canadian Premier League: The Canadian Football League\'s Hamilton Tiger-Cats might not be able to operate a proposed new CPL soccer team at its home stadium due to legal issues involving the Tiger-Cats and renovations to the city\'s football stadium. The city stated the original agreement that allowed the Tiger-Cats to bring professional soccer to the stadium expired in May 2016 and it will not be renewed until these legal issues are resolved. Soccer teams to be run by owners of the CFL\'s Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers had been the first two teams granted by the CPL, which plans to start play in 2018.

OTHER

Box Lacrosse League: The semi-pro BLL, which operated as the Continental Indoor Lacrosse League for the past four seasons, started its 2017 season earlier this month and plans to have seven participating teams called the Chicago Outlaws, Circle City Copperheads (Indianapolis), Cleveland Demons, Detroit Coney Dogs, Grand Rapids Dragonfish, St. Louis Centurions and Wallaceburg (Ontario) Satans.

Major League Rugby: The city of Austin will have a team in the inaugural 2018 season of the MLR, but the team will be the Austin Elite Rugby and not the Austin Huns. The Austin Huns Rugby Football Club has split into the Austin Elite Rugby, which will create its own brand as part of MLR, while a Austin Huns team will continue in the Division-1 USA Club Rugby Red River Conference and will field affiliated teams at several other levels.

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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