Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 20, 2016 - United Soccer League (USL)

BASEBALL

New York-Penn League: The short-season Class-A NYPL started its 2016 season this week with the same 14 teams and Major League affiliations as last season. The league has teams in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Ohio, Maryland, Vermont and West Virginia. Teams are aligned into a four-team Stedler Division, a four-team McNamara Division and a six-team Pinckney Division. The NYPL season runs through Labor Day.

Northwest League: The short-season Class-A Northwest League started its 2016 season this week with the same eight teams and Major League affiliations as last season. The league has teams in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. Teams are aligned into four-team North and South divisions. The Northwest League season runs through Labor Day.

Pioneer League: The short-season advanced-rookie level Pioneer League started its 2016 season this week with the same eight teams and Major League affiliations as last season. The league has teams in Montana, Colorado, Utah and Idaho. Teams are aligned into four-team North and South divisions. The Pioneer League season runs through September 8.

Carolina League: The city of Fayetteville (NC) is considering sites for a new baseball stadium that could eventually become home to a team in the high Class-A Carolina League. The owner of Major League Baseball\'s Houston Astros has expressed interest in Fayetteville as a possible home to an affiliated team. There has been talk of moving two high Class-A California League teams to the Carolina League. The Astros and the Texas Rangers have current affiliates in the Cal League and the Rangers are interested in Kinston (NC) a possible home for its high Class-A affiliate. The Astros would like its minor league team to be playing in a new Fayetteville stadium by the 2018 season. Financing for stadium construction would still need to be worked out.

Desert League: The proposed independent fall-season Desert League, which plans to start play this September with four teams in Arizona and California, now lists the Somerton (AZ) Statesmen team as the Somerton Caneros. Late last month, the Desert League announced a working affiliation with the Caneros de Los Mochis of Mexico\'s fall-season Mexican Pacific League for the 2016 season. The affiliation will allow players to move freely between leagues. The Desert League looks to expand its affiliations before the inaugural season starts.

BASKETBALL

Central Basketball Association: The CBA, which recently completed its fourth springtime season with nine teams, announced the Bay Area Shuckers, based in Anne Arundel County (MD), will join the league for the 2017 season. After playing the 2011-12 season in the Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League, the Shuckers have been part of the fall-winter American Professional Basketball League for the past four seasons (2012-16). The Shuckers will change their name to the Baltimore Shuckers as part of the move to the CBA. The CBA is planning to expand from its base in the Midwest by adding teams on the East Coast and is recruiting teams from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas. Through the CBA Global Opportunities Program, the league has used its connections with basketball federations around the world to help place its players in foreign leagues. A CBA-sponsored team will be part of international tours this September in Brazil and Taiwan. Last year, the CBA announced that it was trying to form an affiliated CBA Brazil league.

New Era Basketball Association: The NEBA played an inaugural 2015-16 winter season from November to January with six teams and came under new ownership prior to a 2016 spring season that recently started. The NEBA lists logos for eight teams that are supposed to be part of the current season. These teams include the Carolina Prestige (Raleigh), Portland (OR) Reign, Hub City Cyclones (Jackson, TN), San Antonio Kings, Vehicle City Royals (Flint, MI), Detroit Coast II Coast All-Stars, Memphis Lions and Kalamazoo Pure. Hub City, Memphis and San Antonio were three of the teams in the winter season.

Global Women\'s Basketball Association: The new GWBA, which evolved from the Women\'s American Basketball Association, started its inaugural 2016 season this week with a game between the Flint Monarchs and the Pittsburgh Stars. No league-wide schedule has been posted, but some of the other teams listed on individual team schedules include the Milwaukee Aces, Illinois Starletz (Chicago) and Akron Innovators. Teams are scheduled to play about six games in June, July and early August. The Louisville Fillies are listed as a GWBA team, but no longer appear on any schedules.

FOOTBALL

China Arena Football League: The new professional developmental CAFL, which had been called the China American Football League, recently held its player draft for the six China-based teams that will start play in September 2016. Each team will have ten players from China and ten foreign players that will include players from the parent Arena Football League and other indoor leagues in the United States.

National Football League: The owner of the NFL\'s Oakland Raiders appears to be totally committed to trying to move the team to a proposed new 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. The owner stated the team is not using a Las Vegas move as leverage for a new Oakland stadium. The Raiders also have other options besides Oakland or Las Vegas. If the San Diego Chargers end up moving to Los Angeles to share the Rams\' new stadium, the Raiders could consider a move to San Diego. If the Chargers stay in San Diego, the Raiders could exercise an option to be part of the Ram\'s new stadium.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL\'s new Springfield (MA) franchise, which previously operated as the Portland (ME) Pirates, announced the team will be called the Springfield Thunderbirds when it starts play in the 2016-17 season. The AHL\'s new Tucson (AZ) franchise, which previously operated as the Springfield Falcons, announced the team will be called the Tucson Roadrunners when it starts play in the 2016-17 season.

National Hockey League: The NHL will be holding its owners\' meeting next week and various reports state that the league will announce Las Vegas for an expansion franchise. The team could start as early as the 2017-18 season and there is speculation the new team could be called the Black Knights.

North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II NAHL, recently announced its divisional alignment for the 2016-17 season. The league has grown from 34 to 48 teams with 13 of the new teams coming from a merger with the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League. The NA3HL will have eight regional divisions across the United States.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The city of Boise (ID) is being considered for a new USL team if a new stadium can be built. Earlier this month, the Portland Timbers2, the USL affiliate of Major League Soccer\'s Portland Timbers, hosted the Swope Park Rangers (Kansas City, MO) in a well-attended regular-season game in Boise. The Portland Timbers plan to bring additional minor league Timbers2 "home" games to Boise for the 2017 season. The Timbers would then evaluate whether to place a second minor league team in Boise.

Liga Mexicana de Futbol Rapido: The Mexican professional indoor soccer league known as the LMFR wrapped up its month-long regular season this week with eight teams each playing a six-game schedule. The Norte-Noreste (North-Northeast) division featured the Deportivo Don Roge, Halcones Miguel Aleman, Lobos UADEC and Saltillo FC, while the Occidente (West) division included the Astros de Tepic, Deportivo Club Nayar, Diablos Macaaray and Jalisco FC.

OTHER

PRO Rugby: The new PRO Rugby league, whose five teams started the inaugural 2016 season without team nicknames, recently announced the nicknames selected for each team based on fan voting. The new team names are the Denver Stampede, San Diego Breakers, Ohio Aviators (Columbus), San Francisco Rush and Sacramento Express. PRO Rugby is a professional league that plays under the 15-a-side rugby union rules. The season runs from mid-April through July with each team playing 12 matches. PRO Rugby plans to add some expansion teams by next 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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