Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 12, 2017 - Major League Soccer (MLS)

BASEBALL

International League: The Gwinnett (GA) Braves of the Triple-A International League recently announced a contest to rename the team for the 2018 season. A final round of voting on the top choices will be held from June 19 to July 3, 2017. With the team being based in suburban Atlanta, there has been some confusion with the Triple-A team sharing the same name and market as Major League Baseball\'s Atlanta Braves.

Thoroughbred League: The independent developmental Thoroughbred League started play this week with six teams playing games at the Eagles Sports Complex just south of Lexington (KY). Teams called the Mustangs, Paints, Stallions and Blazers have started their schedules, but teams called the Broncos and Pacers have yet to start play. The inaugural 2017 season runs through July.

Midwest League: The Beloit (WI) Snappers of the low Class-A Midwest League are considering some downtown locations for a proposed new stadium. League and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) officials stated the current stadium does not meet MiLB standards and have threatened to pull the franchise from Beloit if a new facility is not built.

Minor League Baseball: The town of Windsor (CO), about 60 miles north of Denver, is planning to build a new sports complex that is expected to include a 10,000-seat baseball stadium built to Major League Baseball standards and developers want to find a minor league team for the stadium.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA\'s Milwaukee Bucks announced its new Oshkosh-based NBA D-League team will be called the Wisconsin Herd when it starts play for the 2017-18 season. The D-League will be renamed the NBA Gatorade League, or the G-League, starting with the 2017-18 season.

National Basketball League of Canada: The owner of the Island Storm (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island) team in the NBL-Canada stated the team\'s status for returning next season is uncertain and the team is unable to honor its coach\'s contract for next season. The league has had a team on Prince Edward Island since the Summerside Storm started play in the league\'s first two seasons (2011-13) before moving to Charlottetown and becoming the Island Storm for the 2013-14 season.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced four new teams called the Plano (TX) Mighty Kings, Providence (RI) Pats, St. Joseph (MO) Shields and the Akron (OH) Aviators have been added for the 2017-18 season.

FOOTBALL

Icon Women\'s Football Association: The new Texas-based full-tackle IWFA started its inaugural 2017 season last month and features 17 teams playing an eight-week schedule through June. Teams include the Austin Assassins, Texas Lady Jaguars, Corpus Christi Divas, Portland Dynasty,  Harlingen Honeys, Rio Grande Valley Vixens, Laredo Phantasy, Laredo Warhawks, San Antonio Legacy, Rio Grande Valley Dolls, Southwest Texas Mockingjays, South Texas Phoenix, Rockport Her-ricanes, Corpus Christi Storm, South Texas Generals, Rio Grande Valley Clovers and Weslaco Jaguars.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The ECHL\'s Adirondack Thunder (Glens Falls, NY) is looking for a new National Hockey League affiliate for the 2017-18 season. The Thunder had been owned and affiliated with the NHL\'s Calgary Flames since joining the ECHL for the 2015-16 season from a move of the Stockton (CA) Thunder. The Flames recently sold the Thunder to the owners of the Glen Falls Civic Center and announced a new ECHL affiliation with the Kansas City Mavericks. The Mavericks, based in Independence (MO), have played the past few seasons in the league as the Missouri Mavericks, but recently made the official name change to the Kansas City Mavericks for the 2017-18 season. The Adirondack Thunder does not plan to make a name change under its new ownership.

National Hockey League: An official with the NHL\'s Calgary Flames said the team will move if a new arena is not built for the Flames. The Barclays Center (Brooklyn), which is home to the NHL\'s New York Islanders, is not expected to be redesigned to address concerns of the Islanders. The Islanders have expressed interest in moving to a proposed arena in near Belmont Park. The city of Seattle has selected the development group for the redesign of the city\'s Key Arena, which would be built as a possible future home for an NHL team and a National Basketball Association team.

Canadian Women\'s Hockey League: The elite-level amateur CWHL announced it has added a sixth team called the Kunlun Red Star, based in Shenzhen (China), for the 2017-18 season. The CWHL\'s other five teams called the Boston Blades, Brampton Thunder, Calgary Inferno, Montreal Canadiennes and Toronto Furies will all return for the 2017-18 season. Each CWHL team will travel to China for a three-game series against the Red Star and the Red Star will travel to North America for a three-game series against each CWHL team.

North American Tier-III Hockey League: The junior-level NA3HL announced its team called the Glacier Nationals (Havre, MT) has been sold and will relocate to become the Butte (MT) Cobras for the 2017-18 season.

Junior Canadian Hockey League: The new independent JCHL is trying to organize in Southwestern Ontario for the 2017-18 season, but the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada have not sanctioned the league and are warning teams and players not to join the JCHL.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: Miami-Dade County commissioners voted to approve a sale of the last parcel of land needed for a soccer stadium to the Miami-based MLS expansion group. If the stadium is built, it might not be ready until 2021, but a Miami team could start in 2019 based out of a temporary venue. The San Diego city council removed its portion of funding for a proposed SoccerCity complex that would include a soccer stadium for a San Diego-based MLS expansion franchise. The funding was supposed to be part of a November 2017 special election, but that now might be pushed back to 2018.

United Soccer League: The president of the provisional Division-II USL confirmed the league is in discussions with a group looking to bring a USL team to Baltimore. A new stadium is being proposed for the team that would start play in 2020.

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL officially announced a team called the Rio Grande Valley Barracudas will be part of the 2017-18 season and will be based in Hidalgo (TX). This is the league\'s former Brownsville (TX) Barracudas franchise, which played in the MASL for two seasons (2014-16) and dropped out to reorganize. The league had a former Hidalgo-based team called the Hidalgo La Fiera that played a few games in the 2014-15 season before folding.

National Independent Soccer Association: The proposed new men\'s NISA plans to become an independent Division-III professional soccer league with play starting in 2018. The league says it has letters of intent from 10 markets to join for the first season and wants to grow to a maximum of 24 teams by 2021. The NISA will involve ownership groups affiliated with teams in the provisional Division-II North American Soccer League and the elite-level National Premier Soccer League. The United Soccer League, the other provisional Division-II soccer league in 2017, previously announced plans to start a Division-III professional soccer league next season.

OTHER

Major Series Lacrosse: The Ontario-based indoor Senior-A MSL started its 2017 late last month with the same six teams as last season. Teams include the Brampton Excelsiors, Brooklin Redmen, Cobourg Kodiaks, Oakville Rock, Peterborough Lakers and Six Nations Chiefs (Hagersville). The season runs through July and the MSL champion plays the champion of the British Columbia-based Western Lacrosse Association for the Mann Cup.

Western Lacrosse Association: The British Columbia-based indoor Senior-A WLA started its 2017 season last month and it features the same seven teams as last season - the Burnaby Lakers, Coquitlam Adanacs, Langley Thunder, Maple Ridge Burrards, Nanaimo Timbermen, New Westminster Salmonbellies, and the Victoria Shamrocks. The season runs from mid-May to early August. At the end of the season, the WLA champion plays the champion of the Ontario-based Major Series Lacrosse for the Mann Cup.

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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