Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 16, 2017 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

American Association: The independent American Association will remain at 12 teams for the 2018 season, but instead of 3 divisions (North, Central and South) the teams will be aligned into six-team North and South divisions. The Salina (KS) Stockade will not return, but the league added a new team called the Chicago Dogs for the 2018 season. The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, St. Paul Saints, Sioux Falls Canaries and Winnipeg Goldeyes remain from last season\'s North Division and are joined by the new Chicago Dogs and the Gary SouthShore RailCats from the Central Division. The Kansas City T-Bones, Lincoln Saltdogs and Sioux City Explorers of last season\'s Central Division were moved to the South Division with the returning Cleburne Railroaders, Texas Airhogs and Wichita Wingnuts.

Pacific Coast League: The ownership of the Las Vegas 51s in the Triple-A PCL announced plans for a new 10,000-seat stadium to be built for the team in downtown Summerlin, just west of Las Vegas. Work on the new stadium will start early next year and should be ready for the 2019 season. Next season, the 51s will start sharing its current stadium with the new Las Vegas Lights soccer team in the United Soccer League and the USL team will remain at that stadium after the 51s move out. Summerlin is also home to the new practice facility for the National Hockey League\'s Vegas Golden Knights.

Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League\'s new team to be based in Hudson (WI) for the 2019 season will be called the St. Croix River Hounds.

Expedition League: The proposed new summer-collegiate Expedition League announced a new team in Minot (ND) will be part of its inaugural 2018 season. The team will use Souris Valley in its name with Aviators, Sabre Dogs, Warbirds or Wingmen as choices for the team nickname.

BASKETBALL

Champions Basketball League: The proposed new CBL, which plans to be a professional men\'s summer basketball league consisting of teams stocked with former National Basketball Association players, did not get off the ground this past summer as planned. An announced game scheduled for this past August to launch the new league was cancelled at the last minute and it looks like the league will not get off the ground until next summer. The CBL currently lists 12 teams aligned in six-team Eastern and Western conferences. The Eastern Conference has teams called the Gotham Ballers (New York), Boston Rebellion, Philadelphia Glory, Miami Beach Kings, Orlando Juice and Atlanta Speed. The Western Conference has the Detroit PowerDrive, Chicago Hoopers (was Ringers), Los Angeles SuperStars (was Rush), Dallas Dunkers, Phoenix Desert Cats (was Power) and San Francisco Cyber Ballers. A website list of 16 teams from earlier this year had also included teams called the Cleveland Jammers, Minnesota Storm, Houston Hustle and Washington (DC) Challengers.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team called the Sunrise (FL) Jewels is a late edition to the league\'s Florida Division for the 2017-18 season. Another new team called the Schertz (TX) All Stars from the San Antonio area was added for the 2018-19 season. A proposed new ABA team called the Schertz Kings was announced for the 2015-16 season, but left for another league prior to the season. A team called the Magic City Surge, based in Birmingham (AL), will start play in the Gulf Division for the 2017-18 season. In March 2017, the ABA announced a new team called the Magic City Blitz after a change in management and ownership of the league\'s Birmingham Blitz team. The Magic City Blitz then changed its name to the Magic City Surge a couple months later.

Women\'s National Basketball Association: The WNBA\'s San Antonio Stars are reported to be in negotiations for a sale and possible relocation to Las Vegas. The San Antonio Stars started as the Utah Starzz in the league\'s inaugural 1997 season and moved to become the San Antonio Silver Stars for the 2003 season. The Silver Stars changed its name to simply the Stars for the 2014 season.

FOOTBALL

Champions Indoor Football: The CIF announced its 2018 schedule that will feature 11 teams aligned into a six-team Northern Conference and a five-team Southern Conference. The CIF had 14 teams last season, but the Centex Cavalry and Dodge City Law folded and the Bloomington Edge and West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) moved to the Indoor Football League. The CIF added a 2018 expansion team called the Quad Cities Steamwheelers (Moline, IL). The Northern Conference will include the Bismarck (ND) Bucks, Kansas City Phantoms, Omaha Beef, Salina (KS) Liberty, Sioux City (IA) Bandits and the new Quad City Steamwheelers. The Southern Conference will feature the Amarillo Venom, Dallas Marshals, Duke City Gladiators (Albuquerque), Texas Revolution (Frisco) and Wichita Force. The 2018 season will run from early March to early June.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL has approved the Colorado Eagles (Loveland) as an expansion franchise for the 2018-19 season that will grow the league to 31 teams to match the number of teams in the National Hockey League. The Colorado Eagles, currently operating as a team in the lower-level ECHL, will be the primary affiliate of the NHL\'s Colorado Avalanche starting with the 2018-19 season. The AHL\'s San Antonio Rampage, which is currently the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, will become the AHL affiliate of the NHL\'s St. Louis Blues starting with the 2018-19 season. The AHL is operating with one less team than the NHL for this season, so the St. Louis Blues team is the only NHL member without its own AHL affiliate.

ECHL: The ECHL has approved the withdrawal of its Colorado Eagles (Loveland) team after the 2017-18 season so it can move up a level to the American Hockey League. The ECHL reports it is in the process of trying to relocate the Colorado Eagles ECHL franchise for the 2018-19 season. The Colorado Eagles played eight seasons (2003-11) in the former Central Hockey League before joining the ECHL for the 2011-12 season. The ECHL started its 2017-18 season this week with 27 teams aligned into an East Conference with a six-team North Division and a seven-team South Division, and a Western Conference with a seven-team Central Division and a seven-team Mountain Division. The league had 27 teams last season, but the Elmira (NY) Jackals and Alaska Aces (Anchorage) did not return and the league added two new teams called the Worcester Railers HC and the Jacksonville IceMen. The Missouri Mavericks remained in Independence (MO), but were renamed the Kansas City Mavericks for the 2017-18 season.

National Hockey League: The new owner of the National Basketball Association\'s Houston Rockets has expressed interest in bringing an NHL franchise to Houston. The city last had a pro hockey team called the Houston Aeros in the American Hockey League, but it moved to Des Moines (IA) after the 2012-13 season.

United Hockey League: The proposed new independent minor professional UHL is accepting inquiries for membership and the league plans to concentrate on teams in the Midwest and eastern United States for its inaugural 2018-19 season.

SOCCER

United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The Lansing United soccer team, which has played the past four seasons (2014-17) as part of the National Premier Soccer League, will move to the PDL for the 2018 season. The team is also considering an eventual move to the proposed USL Division-III league when that league starts play in 2019.

United Soccer League: The Phoenix Rising FC of the provisional Division-II USL has acquired the FC Tucson of the Premier Development League and will run the operations of the club starting next season. FC Tucson has been part of the PDL since the 2011 season.

Major League Soccer: The local sports authority in Nashville has approved partial funding for a proposed 27,000-seat soccer stadium that could become home to an MLS expansion team. The group trying to bring an MLS expansion team to Detroit was denied its application to trademark the Detroit City Soccer Club (Detroit SC) name because of its similarity with the Detroit City Football Club (Detroit City FC), which is a current team in the lower-level National Premier Soccer League.

Canadian Premier League: A group in Surrey (British Columbia) is trying to acquire a franchise in the new professional CPL, which is a proposed Tier-1 FIFA-sanctioned soccer league trying to get off the ground in 2018.

OTHER

Major League Rugby: The Utah Warriors (Salt Lake City) of the proposed new MLR officially announced its team name this week. The MLR plans to start play in the spring of 2018 and currently lists six teams. In addition to the Warriors, the other announced 2018 teams are the Austin Elite Rugby, Glendale (CO) Raptors, Houston Strikers, New Orleans Gold (NOLA Gold) and Seattle Seawolves.

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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