Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 20, 2017 - Southern League (SL)

BASEBALL

Can-Am League: The independent Can-Am League recently announced its 2018 season schedule that will again feature the same six teams as last season: the New Jersey Jackals (Little Falls), Ottawa Champions, Quebec Les Capitales (Quebec City), Rockland Boulders (Ramapo, NY), Sussex County (NJ) Miners and the Trois-Rivieres Aigles (Quebec). Each of the six teams will play one series during the month of June against two international opponents, who will be announced at a later date.

Southern League: One of the new investors for the recently purchased Mobile BayBears of the Double-A Southern League is also the developer of a new project in Madison (AL) near Huntsville where a new ballpark has been proposed for the team. The league has granted the BayBears\' new ownership group the right to explore the northern Alabama area, but permission to relocate the team has not yet been granted.

Atlantic League: The city of High Point (NC) and Guilford County are in a battle over the county\'s portion of funding for a new ballpark that could become home to an independent Atlantic League team. A local High Point group has raised $50 million in pledges for the franchise and development of the area around the proposed ballpark, which they hope will be ready for the 2019 season.

Prospect Baseball League: The summer-collegiate Prospect League will return to Hannibal (MO) for the 2018 season with a new team called the Hannibal Hoots. A former team called the Hannibal Cavemen suspended operations before the league\'s 2017 season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada started its 2017-18 season this weekend and again has ten teams aligned in a five-team Central Division and a five-team Atlantic Division. Of the ten teams from last season, the Orangeville (Ontario) A\'s folded and a new Moncton (New Brunswick) Magic team replaced the Moncton Miracles team, which had been operated by the league for the past couple of seasons. The league added a new team called the St. John\'s Edge (Newfoundland) for the 2017-18 season. The NBL-Canada started play back in 2011. This season will run until the first week of April 2018.

North American Professional Basketball: The Seattle Knights of the proposed new NAPB have moved to Canada and are now the Vancouver Knights (British Columbia). The league also lists the names of two other previously unnamed teams - the Kansas City Buzz and Nevada Desert Dogs (Mesquite). It looks like there will be a total of eight teams when the league starts play in January 2018. Other teams include the Albany (NY) Patroons, Kentucky Thoroughbreds (Owensboro), Ohio Cardinals (Akron), Rochester (NY) RazorSharks and Yakima (WA) Sun Kings.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The IFL announced its 2018 season schedule and it will feature all eight teams aligned in one table with no separate conferences for the first time in league history. The top four teams in the standings at the end of the season will qualify for the playoffs. The IFL had ten teams in 2017, but the Wichita Falls (TX) Nighthawks, Colorado Crush (Loveland), Salt Lake Screaming Eagles and Spokane (WA) Empire did not return. The league added the Bloomington (IL) Flex and West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) teams from last season\'s Champions Indoor Football. The 2018 season will run from late February to mid-June with each team playing two games against each team.

National Arena League: The NAL announced plans to add three more new teams for the 2018 season. One of the new teams called the Massachusetts Pirates (Worcester) was officially announced this week with plans to announce new teams in Portland (ME) and Greensboro (NC) in the near future. The NAL has reportedly registered trademarks for the Maine Mammoths and the Carolina Cobras as possible names for the other two teams. The NAL is still uncertain about a proposed new Orlando team and whether a 2017 team called the Monterrey Steel (Mexico) will return. Returning teams called the Columbus (GA) Lions, Jacksonville Sharks and Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA), along with the expansion Jersey Flight (Trenton), have already been finalized for the 2018 season.

Electronic Football League: The new eFL has been announced as the first fan-controlled professional sports league in which fans will interact electronically to serve as head coach and general manager for participating teams. The eFL ownership tried the concept with its Salt Lake Screaming Eagles team in the 2017 season of the Indoor Football League as fans interacted to decide what plays to call during games. After the 2017 IFL season, the Screaming Eagles announced plans to form an eight-team Interactive Football League, which has apparently evolved into the eFL. The eFL will be an eight-team indoor league playing 7-on-7 football on a 50-yard field with a FAN token system rewarding fans for on-field decisions. Teams will be competing for a significant end-of-the-season cash prize that will be shared by coaches, players and top fans of the championship team.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: The new owner of the National Basketball Association\'s Houston Rockets has again expressed interest in bringing an NHL franchise to Houston and recently held a discussion about the topic with the NHL commissioner. The city last had a minor professional hockey team called the Houston Aeros in the American Hockey League, but it moved to Des Moines (IA) after the 2012-13 season. A team called the Houston Aeros played six seasons (1972-78) in the former World Hockey Association, which operated alongside the NHL until shutting down after the 1978-79 season with four teams joining the NHL.

Professional Inline Hockey Association: The PIHA is in the middle of its 2017-18 season that features a Pro Division a seven-team Eastern Conference Atlantic Division and a five-team Western Conference Rocky Mountain Division. The lower-level PIHA Semipro division has a ten-team Eastern Conference Atlantic Division and a five-team Western Conference Rocky Mountain Division. The PIHA also has a South American semi-pro league featuring nine Bogota-based teams playing in a Colombia division. The PIHA started play in 2002 and features four skaters and a goalie per team with no checking or fighting.

SOCCER

United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The PDL announced a new Virginia-based team called Lionsbridge FC (Newport News) has been added for the 2018 season.

North American Soccer League: The North Carolina FC (Cary) of the NASL has confirmed the team will move to the Division-II United Soccer League for the 2018 season. The United States Soccer Federation recently revoked the NASL\'s Division-II status for the 2018 season. The North Carolina FC was a charter member for the NASL\'s inaugural 2010 season when it was called the Carolina RailHawks. The team changed to the North Carolina FC prior to the 2017 season.

National Women\'s Soccer League: The Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer (MLS) will own and operate a new women\'s team in the NWSL starting with the 2018 season. The NWSL team will play home games at Real Salt Lake\'s Rio Tinto Stadium and will announce a team name in the near future. The NWSL had ten teams in 2017, but the league might remain at ten teams as there is talk the league\'s FC Kansas City Blues might not return in 2018 and its players could move to the new Real Salt Lake team. Real Salt Lake will join other MLS teams in Houston, Portland and Orlando that also operate NWSL teams in their respective markets.

Major League Soccer: After a meeting this week involving the owner of the MLS\'s Columbus Crew, officials from the city of Columbus and the MLS commissioner, it does not appear the Columbus Crew is committed to remaining in the city and the city has not offered plans on how it will work to keep the MLS team from moving. Officials in Hamilton County (OH) have suggested the FC Cincinnati and its MLS expansion effort should consider Paul Brown Stadium, which is home to the National Football League\'s Cincinnati Bengals, as its future home rather than build a new soccer-specific stadium.

United Soccer League: The Harrisburg (PA) City Islanders of the Division-II USL announced the team has been rebranded as the Penn FC for the 2018 season. The ownership of the USL\'s Rochester (NY) Rhinos is asking for financial support from the community to keep the team active for the 2018 season. A decision as to the team\'s status for 2018 must be made by the end of this month. Major League Soccer\'s Atlanta United will own and operate a new USL team in suburban Gwinnett (GA) starting with the 2018 season. The team will play at the home of the Gwinnett Braves baseball team in the Triple-A International League. The Atlanta United had an affiliation with the USL\'s Charleston Battery this past season. A new Memphis-based USL team will start play in 2019 and will be based out of AutoZone Park, which is home to the Memphis Redbirds baseball team of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. In addition to the Gwinnett team and previously announced new teams in Las Vegas, Nashville and Fresno set to join in 2018, the North Carolina FC (Cary) will be joining the USL from the North American Soccer League in 2018. The USL will lose the Whitecaps FC 2 team in 2018, as the MLS\'s Vancouver Whitecaps announced it will use the new Fresno FC as its USL affiliate starting next season. The Whitecaps FC 2 had been part of the league for three seasons, but suffered from poor attendance.

National Premier Soccer League: The men\'s elite-level NPSL announced two new California-based teams called FC Davis (Davis, CA) and Academica SC (Turlock) have been added to the West Region\'s Golden Gate Conference for the 2018 season.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The Rochester (NY) Rattlers of the outdoor (field lacrosse) MLL announced the team will be moving to Frisco (TX) in the Dallas area where the team will be called the Dallas Rattlers starting with the 2018 season. The Rochester Rattlers had been part of the league since the league-operated Chicago Machine franchise was sold and moved to Rochester for the 2011 season. Another team called the Rochester Rattlers was a charter member of the MLL in 2001, but suspended operations after the 2008 season and most of the players became part of the expansion Toronto Nationals team in 2009.

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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