Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 25, 2016 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL)

BASEBALL

Pacific Coast League: The New Orleans Zephyrs of the Triple-A PCL announced the team will change its name for the 2017 season. Fans will be involved in selecting the team\'s new name that will be announced after the 2016 season. The Zephyrs came to New Orleans with the relocation of the Denver Zephyrs for the 1993 season.

Atlantic League: The independent eight-team Atlantic League started its 2016 season this week with one team change from last season. The league\'s Camden Riversharks ceased operations after the 2015 season, but a new team called the New Britain (CT) Bees was added to take the Riversharks\' spot in the Liberty Division. The New Britain market became available when the New Britain Rock Cats of the Double-A Eastern League relocated to become the Hartford Yard Goats for the 2016 season.

Frontier League: A group is still trying to bring a Frontier League team to a proposed ballpark in Jackson (MI), but a memorandum of understanding to build the ballpark on the Jackson County Fairgrounds expires on June 30, 2016. The group is still seeking local investors for the project.

Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League: The Utica Brewers team in the summer-collegiate PGCBL is changing its name to the Utica Blue Sox, which was the name of previous minor pro teams in the city.

BASKETBALL

Global Women\'s Basketball Association: The proposed new GWBA, which evolved from the Women\'s American Basketball Association, announced a fifth team called the Akron Freeze has joined the league. Other teams called the Milwaukee Aces, Louisville Fillies, Flint Monarchs and the new Illinois Starletz (Chicago) were previously announced. The GWBA teams will play a summer schedule against teams in the United States and against affiliated foreign teams. The league is starting with a network of U.S. teams based in the Midwest and plans to start play in 2016.

Women\'s United States Basketball Association: The proposed WUSBA, which has been trying to get off the ground with a summertime season since 2010, has cancelled a proposed 2016 season that was to include ten teams announced in January 2016. Last month, the WUSBA announced it had reached rental agreements for venues in only six of its ten markets. The WUSBA now plans a 15-day European tour that will feature four WUSBA teams playing games in several countries during September and October 2016. Prior to the tour, the WUSBA will host ten games in Norcross (GA) to prepare the teams for the tour.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The IFL announced a new fan-controlled expansion team based in Salt Lake City will start play in the 2017 season and it will become the league\'s 11th team. Salt Lake City last had a professional indoor football team called the Utah Blaze that shut down after the 2013 season of the Arena Football League.

American Indoor Football: The AIF announced it has awarded a 2017 expansion team that will be located the western part of North Carolina near Boone, which is home to Appalachian State University. The AIF started the 2016 season with ten-team Northern and Southern divisions, but three teams (Corpus Christi Fury, New Mexico Stars and Steel City Menace) previously listed in the Southern Division are now listed in a three-team Western Division.

Independent Women\'s Football League: The full-contact outdoor IWFL started its 2016 season earlier this month with 26 full-schedule teams aligned in 4 regional divisions across the United States. The IWFL also has a six-team conference of other affiliated teams for the 2016 season. The IWFL started its first full season in 2002.

Women\'s Football Alliance: The WFA, which has been around since the 2009 season and is considered the top-level of the current women\'s outdoor football leagues, started its 2016 season earlier this month with 43 teams across the United States. The league plans to create a divisional post-season alignment by placing teams into three different tiers based on roster size and years of experience.

Women\'s Premier Football League: The new full-contact outdoor WPFL plans to start its inaugural season next month with six teams in Texas and New Mexico. The Desert Conference will feature the Houston Rebels, South Texas Lady Crushers and Valley Storm Katz, while the Mountain Conference will include the Curry County (NM) Catastrophics, Lubbock Tigers and New Mexico Venom.

Women\'s Xtreme Football League: The new full-contact outdoor WXFL just completed its inaugural 2016 regular season that included five teams in Oklahoma and Kansas. For a 2015 season, the league had only two teams called the Ponca City (OK) Lady Bulldogs and Oklahoma City Lady Force. Both teams returned for the 2016 season, but Ponca City was renamed the Northern Oklahoma Lady Xtreme. The league added three new teams called the Enid (OK) Lady Enforcers, Kansas City Storm and Kansas Lady Cougars for the 2016 season.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League have signed an agreement to purchase its Springfield (MA) Falcons AHL affiliate with plans to move the AHL team to Tucson (AZ) for the 2016-17 season. The AHL still has to approve the sale and relocation. Springfield has been home to an AHL team off and on since the 1936 season. The Springfield Falcons started as an AHL expansion team for the 1994-95 season and were affiliated with other NHL teams before becoming an affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes for the 2015-16 season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: MLS commissioner recently discussed future league expansion beyond 24 teams and mentioned Sacramento and St. Louis as frontrunners. Other cities under consideration for possible expansion include Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin and Cincinnati. Currently, the league has 20 teams playing in the 2016 season, but it will grow to 24 teams with the addition of Atlanta in 2017, Minnesota in 2017 or 2018, Los Angeles in 2018 and Miami in 2018 or beyond. Last year, MLS announced there would be another round of expansion to grow to a total of 28 teams.

Major League Futsal: The springtime MLF pro league started its 2016 season earlier this month with a ten-team Eastern Conference and a ten-team Western Conference of teams. Most of the teams are from the United States, but the Eastern Conference has one Canadian team and the Western Conference has one Mexican team. The league is also planning a ten-team Tex-Mex Conference with five teams from Texas and five teams from Mexico. A second-level league called the National Premier Futsal League (NPFL) will start this year with a June-to-September schedule and there are plans for a third-level developmental league in the future. The MLF also just announced a new Women\'s Premier Futsal League will start play this summer with the hope of an MLF Professional Women\'s League starting in 2017. The MLF is planning additional teams in Canada and Mexico and would like to eventually create a 12-team summertime International Champions League that will feature four teams each from Mexico, Canada and the United States.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The outdoor/field lacrosse MLL started its 2016 season this week with nine teams aligned in one table for the standings. All eight teams returned from last season, plus the expansion Atlanta Blaze team was added for the 2016 season. The MLL is in its 16th season that will run through the first week of August.

American Ultimate Disc League: The professional AUDL started its 2016 season earlier this month with 26 teams aligned in 4 regional divisions. The league had 25 teams last season, but the Rochester Dragons did not return to the East Division. Two new teams called the Austin Sol and the Dallas Roughnecks were added to the South Division. The AUDL is in its fifth season of play.

Major League Ultimate: The MLU professional disc league started its 2016 season earlier this month with eight teams aligned in four-team Eastern and Western conferences. The MLU has had the same eight teams since starting play in the 2013 season. The MLU regular season runs through June.

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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