Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
March 21, 2016 - California League (CalL)

BASEBALL

California League: With only three weeks until the start of the season for the high Class-A California League, the city of Adelanto (CA) has filed another complaint against the league\'s High Desert Mavericks as the city continues to try to evict the team from its stadium. This could force the Mavericks to play all or part of the 2016 on the road. The city has been having financial problems and says it is unable to assume expenses incurred by running the stadium during the baseball season. The Mavericks say they have a legally binding contract to play at the stadium in 2016.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League announced late last month that the Las Cruces (NM) Vaqueros will not play in the 2016 season due to snowstorm damage to the team\'s home field, but it hopes to bring the Vaqueros back in 2017. The league also announced it will play two neutral-site regular season games at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces during the 2016 season. The league was forced to find a replacement for Las Cruces and added a team called the Salina (KS) Stockade, which will play the majority of its 2016 schedule on the road.

Desert League: The proposed new fall-season Desert League, which plans to start play in September 2017, now lists four teams: the Imperial County Ghostriders (Holtville and Calexico, CA), San Luis (AZ) Dorados, Yuma (AZ) Snowbirds and a North Korean travel team called the DPRK H-Bombs.

Empire Pro Baseball League: The Watertown (NY) Bucks of the proposed new Empire League were able to sign a one-year lease for use of the city\'s ballpark, so the team will become the league\'s fourth team for the inaugural 2016 season. The three other teams will be the Old Orchard Park (ME) Surge, New Hampshire Wild (Franklin Pierce University in Rindge) and the Sullivan Explorers (Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, NY). The Wild was originally to be the Albany (NY) Wild and the Explorers were originally to be based in Rome (NY) as the Rome City Explorers.

BASKETBALL

Independent Basketball Association: The IBA started its 2016 Spring Season this weekend and has five teams listed in the standings. The new Illinois Hoopville Warriors (Belleville) are joined by the Kankakee County (IL) Soldiers, Kenosha (WI) Ballers and St. Louis Trotters from the 2015 Winter Season and the Grand Rapids Fusion from the 2015 Spring Season. The IBA has been playing a separate Winter and Spring season since starting play in October 2011.

Florida Basketball Association: The FBA has added two new teams called the Tampa Bay Saints and the Miami-based Native Pride to increase to six teams for the 2016 season that started a couple of weeks ago. The Tampa Bay Saints played in the 2014 season of the Central Basketball Development League. The Native Pride played in the 2015-16 season of the American Basketball Association. The FBA had a previous team called the Tampa Bay Rebels that played three seasons (2012-14) in the league.

FOOTBALL

Athletic Indoor Football League: The new AIFL states it is a professional indoor league that will start play this spring with teams in Texas and Louisiana. Eventually, the league wants to have 28 teams in two 14-team northern and southern divisions with Interstate 70 as the dividing line for the divisions. Some of the Texas-based teams on posted 2016 schedules include the Austin Cobras, East Texas Rattlers, East Texas Punch, Euless Vipers, West Texas Renegades and Tarrant County Talons.

American Indoor Football: The AIF has added a team called the Cincinnati Bulldogs as a travel team that will play two road games against AIF opponents during the 2016 season. The ownership of the Saginaw Sting, a team that was to be part of the 2016 AIF season, recently stated that the team decided to sit out the 2016 season because of too much uncertainty surrounding the league and potentially high travel costs associated with a 2016 schedule. The Sting plans to play in the 2017 season. The Abilene Warriors team, which was dropped by the AIF just prior to the start of the 2016 season, signed a one-game agreement at an outdoor venue. The Warriors are scheduled to play the East Texas Punch (Nacogdoches) of the new Athletic Indoor Football League. The Warriors cancelled its first AIF game last weekend against the Corpus Christi Fury in Corpus Christi. The Fury then announced a substitute game against a non-league team called the Texas Spartans (El Paso), but the Fury cancelled that game at the last minute. The AIF\'s Steel City Menace (Pueblo, CO) was having financial issues and was planning to play its 2016 home schedule at an outdoor venue.

North American Indoor Football: A new Memphis-based team called the Tennessee Knighthawks announced it is an NAIF expansion team that will start play in the 2017 season.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The ECHL approved the move of the Evansville (IN) IceMen team to Owensboro (KY). The ownership of the IceMen plan to renovate the arena in Owensboro, so the league granted the team\'s request for a voluntary suspension of play for the 2016-17 season. The IceMen will restart play in Owensboro for the 2017-18 season. A new franchise in the Southern Professional Hockey League is expected to replace the IceMen in Evansville for the 2016-17 season.

National Hockey League: The NHL is working out new expansion draft rules in anticipation of new teams being added in the near future. The league is reviewing expansion applications from groups in Las Vegas and Quebec City. A decision would have to be made by June 2016 if the league wants to expand for the 2017-18 season.

National Women\'s Hockey League: The professional NWHL recently completed its inaugural 2015-16 season with four teams called the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale (Stamford) and New York Riveters. The league has expressed interest in possible expansion into Montreal and Toronto. Both of these cities have current teams in the five-team elite-level Canadian Women\'s Hockey League that has been around for eight seasons. The CWHL has a current team called the Boston Blades in the same market as the NWHL\'s Boston Pride.

SOCCER

North American Soccer League: The San Francisco Deltas, a proposed expansion team in the Division-II NASL, recently received approval to play home games at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco starting with the 2017 season. The league is expected to officially announced the Deltas as an expansion team in the near future. This would be the NASL\'s first team located on the West Coast.

OTHER

PRO Rugby: The five teams in the new PRO Rugby league are organizing for the first season that will start on April 17, 2016 with each team playing 12 matches into late July. Initially, each team will simply use the name of its city or state with possible team nicknames coming in the future. PRO Rugby is a North American 15-a-side rugby union league with teams called San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Denver and Ohio (Columbus).

National Lacrosse League: The commissioner of the indoor NLL wants to add more teams in Canada as the league considers expansion. The league currently has four Canadian teams (Toronto Rock, Vancouver Stealth, Calgary Roughnecks and Saskatchewan Rush), but is interested in other markets like Quebec City Hamilton (Ontario), Winnipeg, London (Ontario) and a return to Edmonton, which lost the Rush to Saskatoon after last season.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2014-15: "The Leagueology Almanac" , which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today\'s sports world. The publication is currently available at www.amazon.com.

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