Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 4, 2017 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

South Atlantic League (SALLY): The Lakewood (NJ) BlueClaws of the low Class-A SALLY were renamed the Jersey Shore Pork Rolls for one game this weekend as part of a promotion for the area\'s love of pork roll. This promotion was re-scheduled from a game last month that was rained out.

Atlantic League: Atlantic City (NJ) initiated a request for bids on the stadium that was home to the Atlantic League\'s former Atlantic City Surf team. One of the Atlantic League owners currently involved with the Long Island Ducks and Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish submitted a proposal to revamp the stadium and return a professional baseball team to the city. The city has received three other bids for other uses of the stadium property. The Atlantic City Surf was a charter member of the Atlantic League in 1998 before moving to the shorter-season Can-Am League for the 2007 season and folding after the 2008 season.

Expedition League: The proposed new summer-collegiate Expedition League has signed a stadium lease deal in Pierre (SD) for a team to start play in the league\'s inaugural 2018 season. The city of Aberdeen (SD) is expected to formally announce a deal with the league next week. The league has already signed agreements for teams in Brandon (Manitoba), Minot (ND), Hastings (NE) and Gering/Scottsbluff (NE).

Arizona Fall League: The AzFL, which is owned and operated by Major League Baseball, announced the schedule and team rosters for the 2017 season that will again feature six Phoenix-area teams playing in October and November. The East Division features the Mesa Solar Sox, Salt River Rafters and Scottsdale Scorpions, while the West Division includes the Glendale Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas and Surprise Saguaros. Each of the six teams will feature prospects from five different MLB teams.

Texas League: The mayor of Wichita (KS), which has been working on plans to either renovate its current baseball stadium or build a new stadium, recently announced an affiliated Minor League Baseball team will be moving to the city by the end of this year. There was no mention as to which league this would involve. Apparently, there needs to be a commitment from an affiliated team before moving forward on a new stadium. The city had a former Double-A Texas League team called the Wichita Wranglers and is currently home to the Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA G-League, which was formerly called the NBA Development League (D-League), will have 26 teams either owned or affiliated with an NBA team in the 2017-18 season and it is moving closer to having one G-League team for each of the 30 NBA teams. Of the 26 teams in the 2017-18 season, 22 G-League teams are wholly owned and operated by an NBA team. The four NBA teams without their own G-League team or affiliate are the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trailblazers and Washington Wizards. The Pelicans and Wizards plan to own and operate G-League teams starting with the 2018-19 season. The Pelicans still need to finalize a home for its G-League team with Pensacola (FL), Shreveport (LA), Jackson (MS) and Mobile (AL) vying for the team. The Wizards are building a new arena in the D.C. area for its G-League team.

Florida Basketball Association: The FBA recently completed its 2017 season with six teams called the Bradenton Gymratz, Florida Flight (Orlando), Palm Beach Knights, St. Pete Tide (St. Petersburg) Southeast Royals (Jacksonville) and the Space Coast Stars (Melbourne). Each team played a ten-game schedule from February to July. The St. Pete Tide was also part of the 2016-17 American Basketball Association season.

FOOTBALL

Champions Indoor Football: After playing the past nine seasons (2009-17) as part of the Indoor Football League (IFL), the Sioux Falls (SD) Storm announced the team will move to the CIF for the 2018 season. The Storm started as the Sioux Falls Cobras in the 2000 season of a previous league also called the Indoor Football League. The team then became the Storm and moved to the National Indoor Football League for four seasons (2001-04) and then to United Indoor Football for four seasons (2005-08). The IFL\'s Wichita Falls (TX) Nighthawks also applied to join the CIF for the 2018 season, but there has been no official word from the CIF on the team\'s status.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League\'s Colorado Avalanche announced it will make the Loveland-based Colorado Eagles, currently a team in the lower-level ECHL, its AHL affiliate starting with the 2018-19 season. The move of the Eagles to the AHL the league will increase to 31 teams, so each team in the 31-team NHL will then have an AHL affiliate. The Avalanche\'s current AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, will become the affiliate of the St. Louis Blues starting with the 2018-19 season. For the upcoming 2017-18 season, the AHL will have only 30 teams and St. Louis will not have its own AHL affiliate.

Federal Hockey League: The FHL announced its 2017-18 schedule last week that will feature six teams. The league had seven teams last season, but the Berlin (NH) River Drivers and Danbury (CT) Titans did not return. The FHL added an expansion team called the Carolina Thunderbirds (Winston-Salem, NC) for 2017-18. The FHL\'s St. Clair (MI) Fighting Saints relocated to become the North Shore Knights (Kingsville, Ontario). The North Shore Knights will play eight of its home games as neutral site games in Gravenhurst (Ontario), South River (Ontario) and Temiscaming (Quebec). The season will run from late October 2017 to early April 2018 with each team playing 56 games.

SOCCER

National Independent Soccer Association: The proposed new Division-III professional NISA is looking to place a team in Omaha (NE) as one of its eight teams for an inaugural season starting in either 2018 or 2019. Another group has been working to bring an Omaha team to the proposed new United Soccer League Division-III league by 2019. The NISA has received applications from seven other markets that include Charlotte, Chattanooga, Connecticut, Miami, Milwaukee, Phoenix and St. Louis.

United Soccer League: The provisional Division-II USL\'s expansion team in Las Vegas will be called the Las Vegas Lights when it starts play in 2018. Other candidates in the name-the-team contest were Club Las Vegas, Las Vegas Action, Las Vegas FC, Las Vegas Silver and Viva Vegas.

OTHER

National Lacrosse League: The indoor professional NLL announced a new team in San Diego will start play in the 2018-19 season. San Diego will become the NLL\'s tenth team and will be added to the Western Division to even out the Eastern and Western divisions at five teams each. A name and logo for the team are expected to be announced this fall.

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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