Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
December 11, 2017 - Major League Soccer (MLS)

BASEBALL

International League: The Gwinnett (GA) Braves of the Triple-A International League announced the team\'s new name will be the Gwinnett Stripers. The team held a name-the-team contest with six potential names: Big Mouths, Buttons, Gobblers, Hush Puppies, Lambchops and Sweet Teas. The Stripers was not one of the choices, but was considered a variation of the Big Mouths and chosen for the striped bass found in nearby Lake Lanier. The Gwinnett Braves originated from the league\'s former Richmond Braves team that moved to Gwinnett for the 2009 season. The governor of Massachusetts has announced support for Worcester\'s proposed new stadium in an attempt to lure the league\'s Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox to the city.

Atlantic League: The city of High Point (NC) has received approval to borrow funds to cover the cost of a new downtown baseball stadium that is expected to become home to an independent Atlantic League team. It is hoped the stadium will be ready for the 2019 season. The High Point team is expected to be the league\'s Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish team that recently ceased operations after losing use of its stadium.

Texas League: The mayor of Wichita announced the city is in discussions to bring an affiliated minor league baseball team, most likely in either the Double-A Texas League or Triple-A Pacific Coast League, to a proposed new stadium to be built for the team. The mayor stated an official announcement would be made after the Major League Baseball winter meetings that started this weekend.

Southwest League of Professional Baseball: The proposed new independent Southwest League, which plans to start with six teams in 2019, is again talking with the city of Joplin (MO) about a team possibly using the city\'s Joe Becker Stadium. The stadium was home to the Joplin Blasters for two seasons (2015-16) in the independent American Association before shutting down.

BASKETBALL

North American Premier Basketball: The new NAPB has posted its inaugural 2018 season schedule that will run from December 31, 2017 to April 28, 2018 and feature eight teams. The NAPB\'s Kansas City team has changed its name to the Kansas City Tornados after running into trademark issues with its original name that was the KC Buzz or the Kansas City Buzz.

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA\'s Washington Wizards announced its new G-League team will be called the Capital City Go-Go when it starts play in the 2018-19 season at a new arena being built for the team. The name comes from a style of music created in the Washington (DC) area in the 1960s and is still part of the city\'s music scene. The NBA also announced it is considering the addition of a G-League team in Mexico City to gauge the market for a possible future Mexico City-based NBA franchise. The Mexico City G-League team would be run by the NBA and essentially be a 31st G-League team once all NBA teams have established G-League affiliates.

North American Basketball League: A team called the Tampa Bay Hawks announced it will be part of the NABL when the league starts its third season in the spring of 2018. The Tampa Bay Hawks previously operated as the Tampa Bay Rebels, which played three seasons (2012-14) in the Florida Basketball Association. Over the past few years, the Rebels had been operating a successful developmental team called the Blue Sharks that will continue under the Tampa Bay Hawks.

Women\'s Blue Chip Basketball League: A new team called the Atlanta Monarchs has formed and announced it will be part of the semi-pro WBCBL in 2018.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: The new AAL announced it has released the 2018 season schedules to each of its 12 participating teams. Some team schedules include games against AAL affiliate teams and other non-league teams. The AAL was originally announced as a merger of the 2017 leagues called the Can-Am Indoor Football League (CAIFL) and Arena Pro Football (APF), but ended up with additional teams from 2017 leagues called Supreme Indoor Football (SIF) and the National Arena League (NAL), along with a couple of new teams. The 12 AAL teams include the Vermont Bucks (Burlington; from CAIFL), Glens Falls (NY) Gladiators (from CAIFL), Rochester (NY) Kings (from CAIFL), Richmond (VA) Roughriders (from APF), Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC; from SIF), Triangle Torch (Raleigh, NC; from SIF), Carolina Energy (new team in Charlotte, NC), Upstate Dragons (Anderson, SC; from APF travel team based in Greenville, SC), High Country Grizzlies (Boone, NC; from NAL), Atlanta Havoc (new team), Georgia Doom (Macon; from Atlanta-based NAL travel team) and the Florida Tarpons (Lakeland; from APF team in Estero). The AAL also lists three affiliate teams called the Austin Wild, New Hampshire Cavalry and the Savannah Coastal Outlaws.

National Arena League: The NAL officially announced its next two expansion teams called the Maine Mammoths (Portland) and Carolina Cobras (Greensboro, NC) will join the league for the 2018 season. Of the eight teams from the 2017 season, only the Columbus (GA) Lions, Jacksonville Sharks and Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA) have been confirmed to return, while it is still uncertain whether the Monterrey Steel (Mexico) will return. Two other new teams called the Jersey Flight (Trenton) and the Massachusetts Pirates (Worcester) have also been added as 2018 expansion teams. A proposed new team for Orlando did not materialize for the 2018 season, but it could start in 2019 along with other possible new teams that have expressed interest in the NAL.

Canadian Football League: A group trying to bring a CFL expansion team to Halifax (Nova Scotia) by the 2020 season recently met with CFL officials to discuss the subject. Although the ownership group appears to be strong, a 20,000- to 25,000-seat stadium would have to be built, most likely with little or no public financing. The CFL has not committed to an expansion timetable, but the league would like to add a fifth team to the East Division to complement its five-team West Division. In 1982, the CFL granted an expansion team to Halifax known as the Atlantic Schooners, but plans for a proposed stadium fell through.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: The city of Seattle has approved a memorandum of understanding for the redevelopment of KeyArena that could increase the city\'s chances for an NHL franchise. The arena renovations are expected to be completed in October 2020. The NHL has agreed to consider an application for expansion from a potential ownership group in Seattle. The NHL would like to add a 16th team to the Western Conference to even it up with the 16-team Eastern Conference. Seattle is home to a major-junior team called the Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Hockey League. A former pro hockey team called the Seattle Metropolitans competed for the Stanley Cup for nine seasons (1915-24) as part of the former Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Seattle also hopes the renovated arena can become home to a future National Basketball Association franchise. A new potential buyer has signed a purchase agreement for controlling interest in the NHL\'s Carolina Hurricanes with plans to keep the team in Raleigh (NC). The Hurricanes have been part of the NHL since the 1997-98 season when the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina.

North American 3 Hockey League: Two teams called the Nashville Junior Predators and the Jersey Shore Wildcats have shut down and no longer appear in the Tier-III NA3HL standings.

United States Hockey League: The city council in Racine (WI) has upheld the mayor\'s veto of plans for a new arena that was billed as a future home to a team in the Tier-I junior-level USHL.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS met this week with representatives from Cincinnati, Sacramento, Detroit and Nashville that are all competing for the next two expansion teams. In an effort to prevent the league\'s Columbus Crew FC from moving to Austin, the Ohio Attorney General could invoke a law preventing the move of a pro sports franchise that has accepted public funding for sports facilities. The Columbus owner has been considering potential soccer stadium sites in the Austin area. . North American Soccer League: Without an injunction to allow Division-II status for the NASL, the league is unlikely to resume play in the 2018 season. A preliminary injunction was recently denied and an appeal hearing is scheduled for next week. The NASL has already lost three of its eight teams from last season and the owner of the league\'s New York Cosmos has indicated that the team will not play in 2018 if the league is not granted Division-II status. If the NASL is granted Division-II status, it will work on expansion and try to develop a closer relationship with the lower-level National Premier Soccer League.

Major Arena Soccer League 2: The MASL 2 (M2), which is a lower-level professional league affiliated with the top professional MASL, started its inaugural 2017-18 season this weekend with ten teams aligned in five-team Eastern and Western conferences. The Eastern Conference features the Chicago Mustangs, Cincinnati Swerve, Colorado Blizzard (Denver), Detroit Waza Flo and Muskegon (MI) Risers. The Western Conference includes the Arizona Impact (Glendale), Colorado Inferno (Colorado Springs), Las Vegas Knights, Ontario (CA) Fury II and the San Diego Sockers 2. Teams will play six home and six away games in a regular season that ends in the first week of March 2018.

National Premier Soccer League: The men\'s elite-level NPSL announced new teams called the Laredo Heat, Katy 1895 FC, and FC Baltimore have joined the league for the 2018 season. The Laredo Heat is returning after having played 12 seasons (2004-15) as a member of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League. The NPSL\'s Clarkstown SC Eagles have merged with the FC Motown of Morristown (NJ) and the team will be called the FC Motown starting with the 2018 season.

OTHER

National Lacrosse League: The indoor NLL started its 2018-19 season this weekend with the same nine teams as last season aligned in a five-team Eastern Division and a four-team Western Division. The NLL has announced two expansion teams called the Philadelphia Wings and the San Diego Seals will start play next season.

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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