Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 5, 2016 - Florida State League (FSL)

BASEBALL

Florida State League: The Brevard County Manatees officially announced the team will move from Space Coast Stadium in Viera (FL) to Kissimmee (FL) for the 2017 season and announced a name-the-team contest. The Manatees have been at Space Coast Stadium since 1994, but were looking for a new home over the past few years with attempts at proposed ballparks in Winter Park and Palm Bay. The FSL had a previous team called the Kissimmee Cobras that relocated after the 2000 season. Brevard County could return to the league if a proposed ballpark in Titusville moves forward and attracts another team.

Pioneer League: A proposed downtown ballpark for Colorado Springs could become home to the Helena (MT) Brewers of the advanced-rookie Pioneer League rather than the city's current Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Pacific Coast League. The owner of both teams and is trying to move the PCL team to San Antonio. If the Sky Sox move, the owner would consider moving the Pioneer League team to Colorado Springs, but only to a new downtown ballpark.

American Association: Funding plans are being discussed for the development in the Franklin area of Milwaukee that hopes to include a ballpark for a proposed American Association team. A recent study recommended tax increment financing (TIF) for the project. Original plans were to have a ballpark ready by the 2017 season.

Gulf Coast League: The pure rookie-level GCL started its 2016 season last week and grew from 16 to 17 teams aligned into three four-team Northwest, Northeast and South divisions and a five-team East Division. The teams are operated by Major League Baseball (MLB) organizations and play at various spring training complexes throughout Florida. The Detroit Tigers added a second GCL team based out of its Lakeland complex for the 2016 season due to the shutdown of the developmental Venezuelan Summer League for the 2016 season. One team called Tigers East is part of the Northeast Division and the Tigers West team is part of the Northwest Division. The New York Yankees have operated two GCL teams called Yankees1 and Yankees2 out of its Tampa complex for the past three seasons (2013-15). For 2016, these teams became the Yankees East in the Northeast Division and Yankees West in the Northwest Division.

Arizona League: The pure rookie-level AzL started its 2016 season last week with the same 14 teams as last season. The teams are operated by Major League Baseball (MLB) organizations and play at various spring training complexes in the Phoenix area. The league is aligned into a four team West Division, a five-team East Division and a five-team Central Division.

West Coast League: The proposed new summer-collegiate WCL team previously announced for Port Angeles (WA) has selected four potential team names - Hooks, Pinchers, Sasquatch and Timber Giants. The owner of the team also owns the league's current Kitsap BlueJackets team, but that team is suffering from poor attendance and it appears the owner will rename the Kitsap WCL team and move it to Port Angeles for the 2017 season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic has narrowed its choices to Lakeland (FL) and Kissimmee (FL) as a possible home to its D-League team that will start play in 2017. Jacksonville and the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista (FL) are no longer under consideration for the D-League team.

National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada announced it will add a new Ontario-based team in the Waterloo Region, which includes the markets of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. The new team is expected to play home games in Kitchener and it has started a name-the-team contest with a selection expected in August. The league operated with a four-team Atlantic Division and a four-team Central Division this past season and Kitchener is expected to be added to the Central Division. Another new team called the Cape Breton Highlanders, based in Sydney (Nova Scotia), was unable to start as planned for the 2015-16 season, but is expected to be announced in the next couple of weeks as a fifth Atlantic Division team for the 2016-17 season.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The IFL's Tri-Cities Fever (Kennewick, WA) announced the team will go dormant for the 2017 season due to weak attendance and financial concerns. The franchise will continue to be a league member, but the owner could move the team to another market or sell it to a new owner, who could try to keep the team in Tri-Cities or move it to a new location. The Tri-Cities Fever got its start in the former National Indoor Football League for two seasons (2005-06), switched to arenafootball2 (af2) for three seasons (2007-09), and moved to the IFL when the af2 shut down after the 2009 season. The Fever's regional rival, the Spokane Empire, plans to remain in the IFL for the 2017 season.

American Indoor Football: The Columbus (GA) Lions, the 2016 AIF champions, announced the team is leaving the AIF after only one season to find a more competitive league with established rivalries. The AIF suffered from several underfunded teams and numerous forfeited games during the 2016 season. The Lions had been part of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) for four seasons (2012-15), but were forced to find a new league when the PIFL folded after the 2015 season. Prior to the PIFL, the Lions played one season (2007) in the World Indoor Football League, two seasons (2008-09) in the American Indoor Football Association and two seasons (2010-11) in the Southern Indoor Football League.

Global Indoor Football League: The GIFL, which tried to organize a couple of years ago as a Canadian league with four proposed teams based in Ontario, announced it has reorganized and will try again in 2017 with teams based in the United States and Canada. The league recently announced its first team will be called the Lexington (KY) Horsemen. When first announced in 2012, the league was known as the National Canadian Arena Football League before changing to the GIFL. The league planned to play seven-on-seven three-down football. Four teams called the Guelph Gangsters, Mississauga Meltdown, Oshawa Onslaught and Windsor Waves were announced for a proposed start in 2014, but the league shut down operations in June 2014 after it could not generate enough interest.

HOCKEY

United States Hockey League: The USHL, USA Hockey's top Tier-I junior hockey league, is interested in a possible future team playing in a proposed 4,200-seat arena to be built in Coralville (IA), near Iowa City. The arena would also serve as home to the University of Iowa hockey program. A tentative groundbreaking is planned for later this year with completion expected in early 2019. The 17-team USHL has five current Iowa-based teams called the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Dubuque Fighting Saints, Des Moines Buccaneers, Sioux City Musketeers and Waterloo Black Hawks.

Pacific Junior Hockey League: The Langley Knights of Canada's British Columbia-based Junior-B PCHL are moving to Surrey to become the Surrey Knights for the 2016-17 season. The Knights were without a home since the Vancouver Giants of the major-junior Western Hockey League announced plans to move to the Langley Events Centre for the 2016-17 season. The Langley Knights were the former North Delta Devils team that had just moved to Langley for the 2014-15 season.

National Hockey League: The developer of a proposed 18,000-seat Virginia Beach (VA) arena, which was originally planned for an NHL expansion team or a possible National Basketball Association team, has reportedly arranged new financing for the project that will take a least two years to complete. The potential of the new arena becoming home to an NHL team is uncertain.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer announced they will end its affiliation with the USL's Sacramento Republic FC after this season. The Earthquakes signed a two-year affiliation with the USL's Reno 1868 FC, a USL expansion team that will start play in 2017. The ownership of the Sacramento Republic FC has been trying to build a new stadium for the team so it can move up to Major League Soccer. The USL officially announced the new franchise called Nashville FC will start play in the 2018 season. The team's ownership acquired rights to the team name from the current Nashville FC in the men's amateur-level National Premier Soccer League.

Major League Soccer: The owner of Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres has expressed interest in bringing an MLS expansion team to the city, if a new stadium is built for San Diego State University's football team and an MLS team at the current site of Qualcomm Stadium, the home of the National Football League's San Diego Chargers. If a new Chargers' downtown football stadium is approved, the Qualcomm site will be available, but if the Chargers' football stadium is not approved and the Chargers move to Los Angeles, the Qualcomm site will still be available. A proposed new stadium at the Qualcomm site would not be ready for several years.

North American Soccer League: The Division-II NASL started its 2016 Fall Season this week and grew to 12 teams with the start of the Puerto Rico FC expansion team. The NASL plays a separate Spring Season and Fall Season. For 2016, the Spring Season featured 11 teams playing a ten-game schedule from April to mid-June, while the Fall Season will have 12 teams playing a 22-game schedule from July through October.

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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