Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 28, 2017 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

International League: The mayor of Pawtucket (RI) has formed a financial advisory committee that will work with the city on its plans to find a replacement stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox of the Triple-A International League. Other cities have expressed interest in the team if a stadium plan does not work out.

Carolina League: The city of Fayetteville (NC) broke ground this week on a new stadium that will become home to a high Class-A Carolina League team starting with the 2019 season. The team is currently playing as the Buies Creek Astros on the campus of Campbell University in the Fayetteville area. Once the new downtown stadium is complete, the team will change to a Fayetteville name with Jumpers, Fat Backs, Fly Traps, Wood Dogs and Woodpeckers as choices.

Atlantic League: The York (PA) Revolution of the independent Atlantic League were renamed the York Pretzels for a game this weekend to honor York County being considered the snack food capital of America.

Pioneer League: The city of Pueblo (CO) has rejected plans for a new downtown ballpark that was hoped to become home to a relocated team in the Advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League. Current redevelopment plans no longer include a ballpark and it has been replaced by proposed soccer fields.

New York Collegiate Baseball League: A team called the Niagara Power (Niagara Falls, NY) will return to the summer-collegiate NYCBL for the 2018 season. The team previously played nine seasons (2007-15) in the league before dropping out after the 2015 season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA G-League, which was formerly the NBA Development League (D-League), announced the schedule and league alignment for 26 teams that will be part of the 2017-18 season. The 13-team Eastern Conference includes a new four-team Southeast Division along with a four-team Atlantic Division and five-team Central Division. The 13-team Western Conference features a new four-team Midwest Division to go with a four-team Southwest Division and a five-team Pacific Division. The league had 22 teams last season and added four new teams that are all owned by NBA teams. These include the Agua Caliente Clippers (Los Angeles Clippers) of Ontario (CA), the Oshkosh-based Wisconsin Herd (Milwaukee Bucks), the Memphis Hustle (Memphis Grizzlies) based in Southhaven (MS) and the Erie (PA) BayHawks (Atlanta Hawks). The new Erie BayHawks replace the league\'s previous team by the same name that was purchased by the Orlando Magic in the off-season and moved to become the Lakeland (FL) Magic for the 2017-18 season. The Atlanta Hawks plan to move its Erie-based affiliate closer to home in College Park (GA) for the 2019-20 season after a new arena is built for the team. The league\'s Los Angeles D-Fenders, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers, were renamed the South Bay Lakers and the Des Moines-based Iowa Energy became the Iowa Wolves after the NBA\'s Minnesota Timberwolves purchased the team in the off-season. After playing home games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for its first season in 2017-18, the league\'s Long Island Nets moved to the renovated Nassau Coliseum on Long Island for the 2018-19 season. The G-League season runs from early November 2017 through March 2018.

Women\'s Minor League Basketball Association: The WMLBA recently completed its inaugural 2017 season with six participating teams called the Dallas Lightning, Midwest Reign (Kansas City, KS), San Antonio Troopers, Houston Galaxy, Tennessee Storm (Jackson) and Carolina Stars (Columbia, SC).

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: The new AAL, which is a merger of Arena Pro Football and the Can-Am Indoor Football League for the 2018 season, announced the Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC) will be part of the league\'s first season in 2018. The Cape Fear Heroes were part of the league known as Supreme Indoor Football (SIF) in 2017. The owner of the Heroes and organizer of the SIF plans to keep the SIF operating as a developmental indoor football league. Two other 2017 SIF teams called the Triangle Torch (Raleigh, NC) and the Upstate Dragons (Anderson, SC) have already joined the AAL. The Upstate Dragons were an SIF travel team based out of Greenville (SC) in 2017. The AAL is reported to be in discussions with four other teams for the 2018 season.

National Arena League: The NAL\'s previously announced new 2018 team to be based in Boston is reported to be called the Boston Brawlers and is not associated with a Boston Blaze travel team that was part of the 2017 Can-Am Indoor Football League. The NAL also announced a new 2018 team for Providence (RI), but there has been no additional information about that team.

Champions Indoor Football: The Texas Revolution of the CIF is staying in the Dallas area, but is moving from Allen to Frisco for the 2018 season. The Revolution joined the CIF for the 2015 season after playing two seasons (2011-12) as the Allen Wranglers and two seasons (2013-14) as the Texas Revolution in the Indoor Football League. Frisco had a team called the Frisco Thunder that played two seasons (2007-08) in the Intense Football League and a proposed team called the Frisco Falcons that never got off the ground as part of the 2012 Lone Star Football League.

Xtreme Female Football League: The new semi-pro XFFL is organizing with most of its teams to be located in Texas. Three early members of the league are the Laredo Warhawks, Corpus Christi Divas and South Texas Generals (Pharr). These teams had been members of the 2017 Icon Women\'s Football Association (IWFA), which is an 8-on-8 full-contact league with all teams based in Texas. The IWFA recently completed its second season with two eight-team divisions. The IWFA is also planning to start a men\'s league.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The new 2018-19 ECHL team to be based in Portland (ME) recently announced five finalists from its name-the-team contest: the Mariners, Watchmen, Lumberjacks, Puffins and Wild Blueberries. The city had previous higher-level teams in the American Hockey League called the Maine Mariners and the Portland Pirates. The Portland Pirates moved to Springfield (MA) prior to the 2016-17 season.

Canadian Women\'s Hockey League: The elite-level CWHL announced last month that the Brampton (Ontario) Thunder will move to Markham (Ontario) for the 2017-18 season and the team will be called the Markham Thunder. The Brampton Thunder started as the Brampton Canadette-Thunder in the 1998-99 season of the Central Ontario Women\'s Hockey League (COWHL) and continued in the National Women\'s Hockey League (NWHL), which evolved from the COWHL and then suspended operations after the 2006-07 season. Brampton then joined the CWHL for its first season in 2007-08. The team switched to being called the Brampton Thunder for the 2012-13 season.

Da Beauty League: The Da Beauty League recently completed its 2017 season with six teams called Bic, RBC Royal Bank, Tradition Companies, TRIA, Velocity Hockey Center and Walser Automotive. Each team was sponsored by a local business and comprised of National Hockey League players, minor hockey league players and college players that are from Minnesota or spend their summers in Minnesota. Three games were played per night on eight different dates from July 12 to August 16, 2017. All games were played at the Braemar Arena in Edina (MN). This was the second season for the Da Beauty League.

SOCCER

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL apparently has approved the Rochester (NY) Lancers team for the upcoming 2017-18 season, but the Lancers still need to decide on a home arena. If the team cannot find a suitable arena, it could wait until next season to join. The Rochester Lancers indoor team was part of the former Major Indoor Soccer League for three seasons (2011-14) and moved to the new MASL for the 2014-15 season where it lasted only one season. The Rochester Lancers operated a men\'s outdoor team under the Lancers name in the 2017 National Premier Soccer League and a Rochester Lady Lancers women\'s team is part of United Women\'s Soccer.

OTHER

Guinness Pro 14: The international Pro 14 rugby league, formerly known as Pro 12 prior to adding two South African teams for the 2017-18 season, continues to explore expansion into the United States. Pro 14 would have to work out approval from USA Rugby and potential travel issues, since other clubs are located in Italy, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.

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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