Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
May 16, 2016 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: The independent Frontier League started its 2016 season this week with 12 teams aligned into six-team East and West divisions. The league operated with 14 teams last season, but the Rockford (IL) Aviators dropped out and the league-operated Frontier Greys travel team was shut down. The Rockford team had been part of the league since the 2011 season when it joined as the Rockford RiverHawks before becoming the Aviators for the 2013 season. The Frontier Greys travel team had been part of the league for the past three seasons (2013-15) and was created to give the league an even number of teams. The Frontier League has been around since the 1993 season.

Pacific Association: The independent Pacific Association recently posted its 2016 season schedule that will feature the same four California-based teams as last season: the Pittsburg Mettle, San Rafael Pacifics, Sonoma Stompers and Vallejo Admirals. The 2016 season runs from May 31 to August 28. The Pacific Association started play in the 2013 season.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced it has added an expansion team in Orlando and confirmed the addition of the Pensacola Energy expansion team for next season.

Women\'s National Basketball Association: The WNBA started play in its 20th season this week and it again features 12 teams aligned into six-team Eastern and Western conferences. The only team change was in the Western Conference as the Tulsa Shock moved to Arlington (TX) to become the Dallas Wings for the 2016 season. The Shock had joined the WNBA as a 1998 expansion team called the Detroit Shock and then moved to Tulsa for the 2010 season. The 2016 season will run from May 14 to September 18 and will include a four-week break for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Global Women\'s Basketball Association: The GWBA, which evolved from the Women\'s American Basketball Association, now lists the previously announced Akron Freeze team as the Akron Innovators.

The GWBA plans to start play early next month with Akron and four other teams called the Milwaukee Aces, Louisville Fillies, Flint Monarchs and Illinois Starletz (Chicago).

Women\'s Blue Chip Basketball League: The developmental WBCBL started its 2016 season earlier this month with 32 teams in 8 regional divisions, along with four affiliated travel teams. The WBCBL played its inaugural season in 2005.

Florida Basketball Association: The FBA is considering the Daytona Beach Sharks team, which was part of the 2015-16 American Basketball Association, for addition to the league next season. The Sharks are scheduled to play two games against FBA teams this season.

FOOTBALL

Midwest Professional Indoor Football: Late last month, the four-team MPIF completed its inaugural 2016 season that included four doubleheader events - two in Naperville (IL) and two in Loves Park (IL). Teams included the Illinois Renegades (Dyer, IN), Windy City Ravens (Naperville, IL), Stateline Sting (Loves Park/Rockford (IL) and Kearney (NE) Hawks. The league recently announced two new teams called the Midwest Knights (Hammond, IN) and the Tri-Town Titans (Bourbonnais, IL) have been added for the 2017 season. The MPIF plans to add more teams prior to next season.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL approved the sale of the Springfield (MA) Falcons team to the National Hockey League\'s Arizona Coyotes and also approved the relocation of the team to Tucson for the 2016-17 season. The league was still reviewing an application for the sale and relocation of the Portland (ME) Pirates to Springfield (MA) for the 2016-17 season.

Federal Hockey League: The FHL could grow from six to eight teams next season with the addition of a new team in St. Clair Shores (MI) and with the return of the Watertown (NY) Wolves team, which sat out the 2015-16 season due to arena renovations.

SOCCER

National Professional Soccer League: The men\'s elite-level NPSL started its 2016 season this month with a total of 84 teams aligned in four regions - Midwest, Northeast, South and West. Each region is further divided into geographic conferences with the South having four conferences and the rest of the regions each having three conferences. The Cincinnati Saints relocated to become the Dayton Dynamo and the Indiana Fire became the Indy Eleven NPSL. Some of the new teams added for 2016 included AFC Ann Arbor, Albion SC Pros (San Diego), Birmingham Hammers, Boston City FC, Sports Club Corinthians USA (Ranch Cucamonga, CA), Fort Lauderdale Strikers U-23, Grand Rapids FC, Kalamazoo FC, Kingston (NY) Stockade FC, Memphis City FC, North County Battalion (Carlsbad, CA), Little Rock Rangers, Rochester (NY) River Dogz, Shreveport Rafters FC, Southern California SC (San Bernardino), Tampa Bay Rowdies 2 and Tobacco Road FC (Durham, NC). Six teams in the Division-II North American Soccer League have affiliated teams in the 2016 NPSL.

North American Soccer League: A group called Atlanta Sports Connection is planning a new sports complex in the Atlanta area with a 10,000-seat stadium that could become home to a new men\'s Division-II NASL team, possibly called the Atlanta Chiefs, and a proposed women\'s team called the Atlanta Vibe in the National Women\'s Soccer League. The NASL had a team called the Atlanta Silverbacks that ceased operations after the 2015 season. A new Major League Soccer team called the Atlanta United FC starts play in the 2017 season in a new stadium it will share with the National Football League\'s Atlanta Falcons.

Major League Soccer: The Los Angeles city council approved construction of a new 22,000-seat soccer stadium for the MLS expansion team called Los Angeles FC. The team plans to start play in the 2018 season. The Minnesota MLS expansion franchise was granted property tax exemptions for a proposed stadium site in St. Paul, but the project still needs some other tax breaks. The stadium is not expected to be ready until the 2018 season, but the Minnesota team could start in 2017 at a temporary location. The new Atlanta United FC will be added in 2017 and a Miami-based expansion team will be added once it gets its new stadium built.

United Women\'s Soccer: The new pro-am UWS, which was formed from the demise of the United Soccer Leagues W-League after the 2015 season, started its inaugural 2016 season this weekend with a six-team East Conference and a five-team West Conference. The league includes six former W-League teams called the Long Island Rough Riders, New York Magic, Colorado Pride (Colorado Springs), Colorado Storm (Denver), Santa Clarita (CA) Blue Heat and the TSF Academy Valkyries team that operated as the North Jersey Valkyries (Lincoln Park) last season; four teams called the Lancaster (PA) Inferno, New England Mutiny (Springfield, MA), Houston Aces and Real Salt Lake Women from the 2015 Women\'s Premier Soccer League; and one new team called New Jersey Copa FC (Metuchen). The UWS hoped to have two former Quebec-based W-League teams called the Laval Comets and Quebec Dynamo (Quebec City) as part of the 2016 East Conference, but the teams were not granted permission from the Canadian Soccer Association.

Northwest Premier League: The new women\'s elite-level NPL, which has all seven teams based in Washington State, started its inaugural 2016 season earlier this month. Teams include the Fuerza FC (Marysville), Olympic Force (Bremerton), Seattle Stars FC, South Sound FC (Tacoma), Spokane Shadow,

Twin City Union (Centralia/Chehalis) and Yakima United FC.

OTHER

National Lacrosse League: The owner of the indoor NLL\'s Saskatchewan Rush, which moved from Edmonton to Saskatoon prior to this season, stated that Edmonton will most likely get an NLL team in the near future. A new arena is being built for the National Hockey League\'s Edmonton Oilers and the Oilers\' ownership could become involved in running an NLL team out of the arena.

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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