Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 2, 2017 - Texas League (TL)

BASEBALL

Texas League: The ownership group that will relocate the Double-A Texas League\'s San Antonio Missions team to Amarillo for the 2019 season has signed off on a 30-year lease on a new downtown stadium that is to be built for the team and supposed to be ready for the 2019 season. The ownership group plans to move its Triple-A Pacific Coast League team called the Colorado Springs SkySox to San Antonio to replace the Missions for the 2019 season.

American Association: Milwaukee County (WI) officials approved the sale of a site in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin that will now be used for a development with a baseball stadium for a potential team in the American Association. Construction on the stadium is to start in the spring of 2018 with completion expected for the 2019 season.

Atlantic League: The city of High Point (NC) voted to come up with an alternative financing plan for a proposed downtown stadium that could become home to a team in the independent Atlantic League by the 2019 season. There is still talk of possibly bringing an Atlantic League team back to Atlantic City (NJ), which had been home to the league\'s Atlantic City Surf. The Surf left the league after the 2006 season and eventually folded after the 2008 season in the Can-Am League.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League announced a team called the Ruidoso (NM) Osos (Bears) will return to the league for the 2018 season and replace the Hollywood Stars travel team from the 2017 season. The league had a Ruidoso Osos team in its inaugural 2011 season, but it lasted only the one season. The league plans to have Ruidoso play in a division with the White Sands Pupfish (Alamogordo, NM), Alpine (TX) Cowboys and the Tucson Saguaros, if Tucson is able to return. Four returning California-based teams will make up the Pacific Division and teams in Roswell (NM), Santa Fe (NM), Garden City (KS) and Trinidad (CO) will make up a third division.

Expedition League: The proposed new summer-collegiate Expedition League announced a franchise in Minot (ND) has been granted for the inaugural 2018 season and a name-the-team contest will be held in the near future. Some of the other teams in the new ten-team league have started announcing their names: the Hub City Hotshots (Aberdeen, SD), Western Nebraska Pioneers (Gering, NE), Casper (WY) Horseheads and Hastings (NE) Sodbusters.

Coastal Plain League: The new Macon (GA) team in the summer-collegiate CPL will be called the Macon Bacon when it starts play in the league\'s 2018 season. The Macon Heat, Hits, Noise and Soul were other contenders for the team name.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced the Westmoreland Warriors, based in Greensburg (PA) of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, will start play in the 2018-19 season. The new team is expected to be a rival for the league\'s Pittsburgh-based Steel City Yellowjackets.

Universal Basketball Association: The UBA announced it will add an Atlantic Division of teams based in Columbia (SC) for the 2017-18 season. The five-team Atlantic Division will include teams called the South Carolina Cardinals, Palmetto Stars, South Carolina Warriors, Carolina Celtics and South Carolina Elite. The UBA had some other teams from both North and South Carolina as part of its 2016-17 Eastern Conference.

Women\'s Blue Chip Basketball League: The semi-pro WBCBL announced its first Native American team called the Native Dream will be part of the 2018 season. The team will be based in Macy (NE), which is just north of Omaha and located on the Omaha Reservation. The Native Dream is affiliated with the men\'s Great Plains Bison team that plays in the National Basketball League of America.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: The new AAL, which was created from a merger of leagues called the Can-Am Indoor Football League and Arena Pro Football, has added a new team called the Atlanta Havoc that will be based in the Atlanta suburb of Buford. The owner of the league\'s Vermont Bucks (Burlington) is involved in starting the new Atlanta Havoc team. The AAL now lists 11 teams for the 2018 season.

National Arena League: The NAL lost another team as the Monterrey Steel (Mexico) has ceased operations. The Monterey Steel was a new team for the NAL\'s inaugural 2017 season and was comprised of some of the players from the Lagartos de Tampico (Mexico) team that was part of the 2016 league called North American Indoor Football. The NAL is now down to five teams with the returning Columbus (GA) Lions, Georgia Firebirds (Albany), Jacksonville Sharks and Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA), along with the expansion Jersey Flight (Trenton). The league\'s Georgia Firebirds are reported to still be working on an arena lease for 2018. The NAL claims to be in lease negotiations for teams in six potential expansion markets for the 2018 season.

HOCKEY

Lique Nord Americaine de Hockey: The Quebec-based minor professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, will start its 2017-18 season this week with six teams called 3L Riviere-du-Loup, Assurancia de Thetford Mines, Cool FM Saint-Georges, Draveurs Trois-Rivieres, Eperviers Sorel-Tracy and Marquis de Jonquiere. The league had seven teams last season, but the Predateurs de Laval dropped out since the Laval Rocket team will be starting play in the 2017-18 American Hockey League season. There was an attempt to try to keep the team in Laval or possibly locate the Predateurs for the 2018-19 season, but the league did not approve any proposals. The Laval LNAH team started as the Valleyfield Braves in the 2013-14 season, but moved to become the Laval Braves early in the season and was renamed the Predateurs for the 2014-15 season. Another LNAH team called the Blizzard de Trois-Rivieres was sold after the 2016-17 season and renamed the Draveurs Trois-Rivieres for the 2017-18 season.

National Hockey League: As the NHL\'s New York Islanders look to move out of its current home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the team has submitted a proposal for a new arena on land at Belmont Park in Nassau County. The New York City FC of Major League Soccer is looking at sites for a soccer-specific stadium and has also submitted plans for a new soccer stadium at the Belmont Park site.

SOCCER

North American Soccer League: The provisional Division-II NASL has filed for a temporary injunction to keep its Division-II status until a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) is settled in the next year or two. The USSF claims the eight-team NASL was not making enough progress on expansion to meet a Division-II requirement to have 12 teams. The NASL is adding new teams in Orange County (CA) and San Diego for the 2018 season and future teams are said to be in the works for Detroit, Atlanta and New Orleans. The financial status of the league\'s San Francisco Deltas team is uncertain, the FC Edmonton team could leave to join the new Canadian Premier League, and other NASL teams are considering leaving the league. Without its Division-II status, the NASL says it would not be able to keep its players and sponsors to operate in 2018. The NASL also says it would not consider running the league without USSF sanctioning.

Major Arena Soccer League 2: The new MASL2, or M2, plans to start play in December 2017 as a lower-level professional indoor soccer league to the MASL with teams playing a 12-game schedule through March 2018. The Colorado Blizzard team, which played out of Colorado Springs as part of the amateur-level Premier Arena Soccer League, has moved to Denver and was recently announced as the first M2 team for the league\'s inaugural 2017-18 season. The owner of the Chicago Mustangs team, which had been part of the MASL for the past three seasons (2014-17) until recently dropping out, announced the Mustangs will be part of the M2 for the 2017-18 season. The team will remain in suburban Hoffman Estates as it moves from the Sears Center Arena to the smaller Grand Sports Arena.

OTHER

Major League Rugby: The proposed new professional MLR team to be based in Salt Lake City announced the team will be called the Utah Warriors when it starts play in the league\'s inaugural 2018 season. Five other named teams included the Seattle Seawolves, Austin Elite Rugby, Houston Strikers, NOLA Gold (New Orleans) and the Glendale (CO) Raptors. A San Diego team was recently announced, but there has been no official announcement as to the name of a Kansas City team. Teams originally planned for Dallas and Minneapolis are out for the 2018 season.

Arena Lacrosse League: The Ontario-based winter-season ALL has added a seventh team in Whitby, just west of Oshawa, for the 2018 season. The team will play at the Children\'s Arena in Oshawa, which is also home to the league\'s Oshawa Outlaws team. The ALL currently owns all seven teams, but as it enters its second season it will allow potential owners to bid and purchase teams.

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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