Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 13, 2016 - Eastern League (EL)

BASEBALL

Eastern League: The Hartford Stadium Authority, which is supervising construction of the new stadium for the Hartford Yard Goats in the Double-A Eastern League, has terminated its contract with the stadium developer due to delays in completing the stadium. The Yard Goats are the former New Britain (CT) Rock Cats team that moved to Hartford and was supposed to start play in a new stadium this season. The Yard Goats started the season on the road and have played home games last month and this month in Norwich (CT). It is unsure when the stadium will be completed, so the team is scheduled to play some more home games in Norwich, Manchester (NH) and Binghamton (NY).

Pacific Coast League: The El Paso Chihuahuas of the Triple-A PCL were renamed the El Paso Desert Gators for one game this week as part of a "What Could Have Been" promotion. The Desert Gators name was one of five finalists for naming the team when it moved from Tucson to El Paso for the 2014 season.

International League: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Allentown, PA) of the Triple-A International League were renamed the Lehigh Valley Cheesesteaks for one regular-season game this week as part of a "Salute to Philadelphia Night".

Appalachian League: The Johnson City (TN) Cardinals of the advanced rookie Appalachian League will be renamed the Johnson City Wagon Wheels for one game next month. The name comes from an old song called "Wagon Wheel" with lyrics that mention Johnson City.

Texas League: If a new Triple-A level stadium is built in San Antonio, the ownership of the San Antonio Missions in the Double-A Texas League has expressed interest in moving the team to a proposed new downtown stadium in Amarillo. Recent reports about infighting among Amarillo city officials concerning the stadium could jeopardize the project.

BASKETBALL

East Coast Basketball League: The ECBL announced the Lumberton (NC) Showstoppers team will be part of the league\'s next season in 2017. The Showstoppers have been part of the Tobacco Road Basketball League for the past two seasons. The team was known as the Robeson County Showstoppers for its first season in 2014-15.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced three more teams called the Indiana Terminators (Gary), RDC Vulcans (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) and ATX Warriors (Austin, TX) have been added for the 2016-17 season.

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The previous owners of the D-League\'s Bakersfield Jam team, which was sold in late April to the NBA\'s Phoenix Suns and moved to Prescott Valley (AZ) to become the Northern Arizona Suns, had hoped to place a new D-League expansion team in Bakersfield for the 2016-17 season. The league recently announced it will play the 2016-17 season with 22 teams and that will not include a Bakersfield team. The league will grow from 19 to 22 teams with the addition of three new teams owned by NBA clubs - the Greensboro (NC) Swarm (Charlotte Hornets), Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets) and Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls). In addition to the Bakersfield move, the NBA\'s Utah Jazz moved its Idaho Stampede D-League team from Boise to become the Salt Lake City Stars for the 2016-17 season.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The new IFL team in Salt Lake City for next season will be called the Salt Lake City Screaming Eagles after a World War II United States Army Airborne Division. The new name beat out the Utah Sandtroopers in final voting. Other potential names included the Utah Stormin\' Mormons, Salt Lake Inversion, Utah Teamy McTeamface, Utah Electric Emus, Utah Legion, Salt Lake Spaghetti Monsters, Utah Ligers and Utah Riot.

National Football League: The NFL\'s San Diego Chargers obtained over 100,000 signatures that should ensure a referendum on a proposed new downtown stadium and convention center will be put before voters in November. The Chargers have the option to share the new stadium being built in Inglewood for the Los Angeles Rams, but will remain in San Diego if the new stadium is approved.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL\'s new Springfield (MA) franchise, which previously operated as the Portland (ME) Pirates, plans to announce the new team name next week. The new ownership group stated the team will not be called the Indians after a previous AHL team in the city, nor will the name be gambling related. The ownership group has reportedly registered the Springfield Thunderbirds as a possible team name.

Georgian Mid-Ontario Junior C Hockey League: The Erin Shamrocks of Canada\'s junior-level GMOHL have requested and were granted a one year leave of absence for the 2016-17 season.

Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League: The United Hockey Union, which is the junior hockey branch of the Amateur Athletic Union, has officially sanctioned the new CPJHL as a member league for the 2016-17 season. The CPJHL currently lists 11 Ontario-based teams for its inaugural season.

SOCCER

North American Soccer League: The Spanish soccer club Rayo Vallecano, which owns the Rayo OKC (Oklahoma City) team in the Division-II NASL, was recently relegated from Spain\'s top La Liga soccer league and has mentioned the possibility of trying to sell off the NASL team. The Rayo OKC is in its first season of a three-season agreement that was signed upon entering the league. An investor in Hartford (CT) has acquired the rights to the Hartford City FC, which was a failed NASL team that tried to join for the 2017 season. An investigation into financing for a complete renovation of Hartford\'s Dillon Stadium and debts of some of those in the previous Hartford City FC ownership group eventually caused the city to halt stadium construction and withdraw a stadium lease for the proposed NASL team. The new owner wants to make improvements to Dillon Stadium and have the NASL team start playing next season. The group trying to bring an NASL expansion team to Chicago is looking at stadium options and possible team names. There is no time frame as to when the group will submit an expansion proposal to the NASL.

National Women\'s Soccer League: The head of the group that owns the New York City FC in the men\'s Major League Soccer (MLS) stated that the group was considering investment in a women\'s team in the NWSL. The NWSL\'s current Sky Blue FC is about 35 miles from New York City and plays out of Rutgers University in Piscataway (NJ). The Sky Blue FC and New York City FC had informal discussions in 2014, but nothing developed. The Sky Blue FC has ranked at the bottom in attendance for the past three seasons. In 2013, Sky Blue FC rejected the opportunity to merge with the MLS\'s New York Red Bulls, based further north in Patterson (NJ). The NWSL says it is in discussions with about a dozen possible expansion groups and about half of those are men\'s MLS teams. Three of the ten current NWSL teams - the Houston Dash, Portland Thorns and Orlando Pride - share ownership, facilities and staffing with their city\'s MLS team.

OTHER

USA Rugby League: The men\'s semi-pro USARL started its 2016 season earlier this month with 14 teams aligned into a four-team South Division, a five-team Northeast Division and a five-team Mid-Atlantic Division. The only change from last season was a new team called the White Plains (NY) Wombats replacing the Connecticut Wildcats in the Northeast Division. The eight-week regular season runs through the month of July.

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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