Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 13, 2017 - International League (IL)

BASEBALL

Southern League: Major League Baseball has approved the sale of the Double-A Southern League\'s Mobile (AL) BayBears team and the new owner plans to relocate the team. The city of Madison (AL) in the Huntsville area has been mentioned as a possible home for the team and the city has confirmed it is considering construction of a new stadium for the team.

Pacific Coast League: Officials in Clark County (NV) have approved a permit to build a new baseball stadium in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin for the Las Vegas 51s of the Triple-A PCL. The stadium would be close to a new practice facility for the National Hockey League\'s Vegas Golden Knights.

Texas League: The mayor of Wichita, which lost an affiliated Double-A Texas League team after the 2007 season, stated an announcement about an affiliated team moving to Wichita could be coming as early as next month. It is uncertain from which league a relocated team would come.

International League: The city of Worcester (MA) has hired two consultants to help the city land the Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox of the Triple-A International League. The team is looking to replace its home at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket and a lease expires after the 2020 season. Pawtucket wants to keep the team and has a potential new stadium site, but still needs approval for the state\'s portion of the stadium funding.

Great West League: The independent summer-collegiate team known as the San Francisco Seals has joined the summer-collegiate GWL for the 2018 season.

Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League: A new team called the Watertown (NY) Rapids has joined the summer-collegiate PGCBL and will start play in the 2018 season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA G-League announced that Shreveport (LA) was no longer in the running as a possible home to the G-League affiliate of the NBA\'s New Orleans Pelicans. The city proposed a new arena to be built for the team, but the city council recently defeated a measure for the city to partially fund the arena. Shreveport had been one of six cities to submit proposals to host the G-League team starting with the 2018-19 season. The Pelicans are one of only four NBA teams that do not currently have a its own G-League team.

East Coast Basketball League: The Savannah Storm of the ECBL has been renamed the C-Port Trojans for the 2018 season.

American Basketball Association: After its first game of the 2017-18 season, the ABA\'s new Owensboro (KY) Colonels team has announced it has come under new ownership and will eventually relocate to become the Evansville (IN) DunKerz.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: The new AAL, which was created from a merger of 2017 leagues called the Can-Am Indoor Football League and Arena Pro Football, has added another North Carolina-based team called the Carolina Energy (Charlotte) for the 2018 season. The city last had a pro indoor team called the Carolina Speed in the 2011 season of the Southern Indoor Football League.

National Arena League: The Albany-based Georgia Firebirds team has disappeared from the NAL team listing, which now includes only five teams: the returning Columbus (GA) Lions, Jacksonville Sharks, Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA) and Monterrey (Mexico) Steel, along with the expansion Jersey Flight (Trenton).

Legends Football League: The women\'s indoor LFL, formerly known as the Lingerie Football League, has added a new team called the Nashville Knights to the Eastern Conference for the 2018 season. Nashville will replace the Pittsburgh Rebellion team that will sit out the 2018 season as it tries to find a better home venue for a return in 2019. Pittsburgh was a 2017 expansion team. As of now, the LFL plans to again have two four-team Eastern and Western conferences for the 2018 season.

Elite Indoor Football: The EIF, which was a loosely organized 2017 indoor football league featuring the Atlanta Furious and the Southern Steam (Statesboro, GA) as its main teams, has announced the addition of four new teams called the Carolina Aviators (Concord, NC), Peach State Cats (Dalton, GA), Myrtle Beach (SC) Masters and Hampton Roads (VA) Reapers for the 2018 season. Myrtle Beach was part of this summer\'s short-lived league called the United States Indoor Football, which was supposed to be a developmental league for Arena Pro Football, and will play a limited schedule in 2018. Hampton Roads was champion of the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Indoor Football League as the Capital City Reapers.

HOCKEY

Western Hockey League: Voters in Kennewick (WA), which is home to the Tri-City Americans of the major-junior WHL, recently rejected a measure that would have funded needed improvements to the Americans\' arena. The Americans are considering its options as the team tries to comply with a September 2019 deadline set by the league for the arena to meet certain guidelines.

Eastern Women\'s Hockey Conference: The EWHC, which operated as the New England Women\'s Junior Hockey League for the past three seasons (2014-17), is playing its 2017-18 season with 13 teams. Four NEWJHL teams from last season have joined three Ontario-based Canadian teams and a Chinese team in an eight-team Gold Division with each team playing a 28-game season. The EWHC also has a Silver Division with five lower-level teams playing in showcase games only.

SOCCER

Major Arena Soccer League 2: The new MASL 2 (M2), which is a new lower-level professional indoor league affiliated with the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), recently announced the teams and schedule for its inaugural 2017-18 season that will start next month. The M2 will feature an Eastern Conference with the Chicago Mustangs, Cincinnati Swerve, Colorado Blizzard (Denver), Detroit Waza and Muskegon (MI) Risers. The Western Conference includes the Arizona Impact (Glendale), Las Vegas Knights, Ontario (CA) Fury II, San Diego Sockers 2 and the new Colorado Inferno (Colorado Springs). Teams will play a 12-game schedule that runs until early March 2018. The Cincinnati Swerve, Colorado Blizzard, Muskegon Risers and Arizona Impact were part of the 2016-17 amateur-level Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL). As 2016-17 members of the MASL, Chicago, Detroit, Ontario and San Diego also had lower-level teams in the 2016-17 PASL. Chicago and Detroit did not return with MASL teams in 2017-18, while Ontario and San Diego are again part of the MASL in 2017-18.

North American Soccer League: The NASL has decided to appeal a recent court decision that would not allow a preliminary injunction against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) for its demotion of the NASL from Division-II status for next season. Since the USSF\'s demotion, the owner of the NASL\'s Jacksonville Armada announced the team will look to find a new league for the 2018 season. At least one other NASL team has indicated a possible move to the provisional Division-II United Soccer League and that could be a possibility for Jacksonville. The Armada joined the NASL as a 2015 expansion team.

National Women\'s Soccer League: With Nashville trying to obtain a Major League Soccer franchise, the city would also like to see a women\'s team added in the NWSL. The NWSL has talked about possible expansion, but it will remain at ten teams for the 2018 season. The NWSL started play in 2013 with eight teams and added a Houston team in 2014 and an Orlando team in 2016. Other markets that have been mentioned about possible NWSL expansion include Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, New York City, Dallas, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Cary (NC).

Major League Soccer: The Metro Council in Nashville approved $225 million in bonding for an MLS-style stadium and makes Nashville one of the top possibilities for the next two MLS expansion teams expected to be announced next month. Officials in Columbus plan to meet with MLS officials next week to discuss the proposed move of the Columbus Crew to Austin. The owner of the Columbus Crew said there has been no final decision on a move to Austin and construction of a new downtown soccer stadium in Columbus could keep the team from moving. The city of Austin has initiated a search for possible sites to build an MLS stadium along with a new MLS training facility. The MLS expansion effort in Cincinnati has decided on a location for its proposed 25,000-seat soccer stadium, but still needs approval for the public portion of the stadium funding.

United Soccer League: Last month, the USL submitted its application for Division-II status to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and the league claims it will be compliant for Division-II status in the 2018 season. The USL operated with 30 teams in 2017 and already announced three new teams in Las Vegas, Fresno and Nashville for 2018. The North Carolina FC from the North American Soccer League could also join along with another possible expansion team. The owner of Major League Soccer\'s Portland Timbers stated its affiliated USL team called the Portland Timbers 2 will remain at the home of the MLS team in 2018, but could eventually move to a different location in Oregon or outside the states. The city of Boise (ID) has been mentioned as a possible relocation spot since the team played a 2016 regular-season game in Boise and a proposed new minor league baseball stadium could be shared with a soccer team.

OTHER

Major League Rugby: The proposed new professional MLR announced a deal with CBS Sports Network for televising MLR games during the inaugural 2018 season. The MLR also confirmed it will begin play with seven teams called the Austin Elite Rugby, Glendale (CO) Raptors, Houston SaberCats (originally the Strikers), NOLA Gold (New Orleans), San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves and the Utah Warriors (Salt Lake City). The MLR will start play in April 2018 under the 15-player rugby union format.

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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