Weekly Sports League and Franchise Update

by Dan Krieger
May 31, 2016 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

Florida State League: With the Brevard County Manatees of the high Class-A FSL looking to move out of their home at Space Coast Stadium in Viera (FL), possibly to Kissimmee in another county, Brevard County officials are proposing a new minor league baseball stadium in Titusville, just north of Viera, for a different FSL team. An organization affiliated with Major League Baseball is reported to be working on the proposal.

Southern League: The Pensacola Blue Wahoos of the Double-A Southern League were renamed the Pensacola Mullets for one game this week as part of a "What If?" night. The Pensacola Mullets was one of the six nickname choices for the Pensacola team when it was launched for the 2012 season.

New York-Penn League: The proposed sale and relocation of the Batavia (NY) MuckDogs in the short-season Class-A NYPL has apparently fallen through due to territorial issues. The MuckDogs were to move to the home of the independent Atlantic League\'s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in Waldorf (MD), which is in the territory of Major League Baseball\'s Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. The Baltimore Orioles also have four affiliated teams in Maryland. The Orioles\' NYPL team called the Aberdeen Ironbirds is only about 80 miles from Waldorf and the Orioles\' Double-A Eastern League affiliate called the Bowie (MD) Baysox is only about 20 miles from Waldorf.

Carolina League: The Lynchburg (VA) Hillcats of the high Class-A Carolina League announced plans to rename the team for the 2017 season. The team will accept online submissions until early next month and select six nicknames for fan voting in a name-the-team contest. Lynchburg has been part of the league since the 1966 season, but always took the name of its parent Major League Baseball club until switching to the Hillcats name for the 1995 season.

Desert League: The proposed new fall-season Desert League, which plans to start play in September 2016 with four teams in the Arizona and California markets, announced the schedule for tryouts that will start next month. The four teams include the Imperial County Ghost Riders (Holtville/Calexico, CA), San Luis (AZ) Dorados, Yuma (AZ) Snowbirds and the Somerton (AZ) Statesmen, which replaces the previously listed North Korean travel team called the DPRK H-Bombs.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The city of Oshkosh (WI) is trying to bring an NBA D-League team to the city. The NBA\'s Milwaukee Bucks issued a request for proposals as they are seeking to establish a Wisconsin-based D-League team that would be located within two hours of Milwaukee. The city of Oshkosh would probably have to use a temporary facility at first until a 3,000-seat arena could be built for the team. The Bucks want the D-League team to start play in 2017.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced it has added new teams called the Elmira (NY) Eagles, Kentucky Enforcers (Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati) and the Virginia Storm (Ashburn) for the 2016-17 season. The ABA had a proposed Elmira-based team called the Elmira/New York Red Riders that never started as planned for the 2009-10 season. The league had a team called the Northern Kentucky Cats or Kentucky Pro Cats in the 2001-02 season. The Virginia Storm is the former Winchester (VA) Storm team, which is moving to Loudoun County after playing the past four seasons in the American Professional Basketball League. The league also announced the Oceanside (CA) A-Team will return for the 2016-17 season after sitting out last season.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The 2017 IFL expansion team planned for Salt Lake City has been taking suggestions for a possible team nickname and will condense the list to ten names for further voting. So far, the two leading suggestions are the Utah Teamy McTeamface and Utah Stormin\' Mormons. The last Salt Lake City pro indoor team was called the Utah Blaze in the 2013 season of the Arena Football League.

American Indoor Football: The previously announced 2017 AIF expansion team for western North Carolina will be called the High County Grizzlies. After losing its home arena, the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets forfeited some remaining games and have apparently folded. The Chicago Blitz also folded, while the Georgia Firebirds and Central Florida Jags have each cancelled their final game of the 2016 season.

National Football League: A 65,000-seat retractable-roof stadium in Las Vegas has been proposed to become home to the NFL\'s Oakland Raiders, but a stadium site and a financing plan still need to be finalized. The goal is to make a presentation to the league in January 2017 and have the team start playing in a new stadium in the fall of 2020.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL approved the sale and relocation of the Portland (ME) Pirates franchise to Springfield (MA) for the 2016-17 season. The Springfield market became available when the league\'s Springfield Falcons franchise was sold and allowed to move to Tucson for the 2016-17 season. It is uncertain whether the new Springfield AHL team will use the Falcons or some other nickname.

United States Premier Hockey League "" USP3: The USPHL announced plans to expand its Tier-III junior-level USP3 league by adding a Pacific Division that will be comprised of four remaining teams from last season\'s Tier-III Northern Pacific Hockey League (NPHL). The NPHL operated with six teams for the 2015-16 season, but one team dropped out, one team left for a different league and four teams called the Eugene (OR) Generals, Seattle Ravens, Tri City Outlaws (Kennewick, WA) and West Sound Warriors (Bremerton, WA) will join the USP3 Pacific Division. The USPHL Empire Division became the USP3 for the 2015-16 season and had 17 teams based in the South, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

North American Hockey League: The NAHL, which is the only Tier-II junior hockey league under USA Hockey, announced its league alignment for the 2016-17 season that will feature 24 teams in four divisions. The league had 22 teams for 2015-16, but has added the new Shreveport Mudbugs to create a seven-team South Division and the Northeast Generals (North Attleboro/Boston area) to create a five-team East Division. The six-team Central and Midwest divisions exchanged teams with the Minnesota Magicians moving to the Midwest Division and the Minnesota Wilderness moving to the Central Division.

North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II North American Hockey League, has added an expansion team called the Missoula (MT) Bruins to its Frontier Division for the 2016-17 season. The Bruins replace the city\'s Missoula Maulers team that decided to cease operations after playing the past three seasons in the Amateur Athletic Union\'s junior-level hockey league called the Western States Hockey League. The NA3HL\'s Frontier Division for 2015-16 had seven teams - five based in Montana and two in Wyoming.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The Minnesota legislature approved a liquor license and a property tax exemption, so construction of the new soccer stadium in St. Paul for the Minnesota MLS expansion team is expected to start this summer. The Minnesota MLS team hopes to start play in 2017 and is considering the temporary use of TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota for at least its inaugural season.

Women\'s Premier Soccer League: The elite-level WPSL started its 2016 season earlier this month with 100 teams aligned in 15 regional divisions. Some of the new teams for this season include AF Cleveland, Atlanta Silverbacks, Boston Breakers U-20, Carolina Rapids (North Carolina), Dayton Dutch Lions, FC Austin Elite, FC Pacific (Huntington Beach, CA), FC Stars (Springfield, MA), Fram Ajax (Southern California), Greensboro (NC) Lady Dynamo, Gulf Coast Texans (Northwest Florida), Lake Norman (NC) Eclipse, Lancaster (PA) Torch, Memphis Lobos, Oak City FC (North Carolina), Old Dominion Cesena (Northern Virginia), Orlando Kicks, Penn Fusion (West Chester, PA), Philly Fever, Pines 1779 (Texas), San Ramon (CA), Sounders Women (Seattle), Carolina Cobras (South Carolina), Washington (DC) Spirit Reserves, Washington Spirt Academy (Virginia), Westside Timbers (Portland) and the North Shore Girls Soccer Club (Vancouver, British Columbia).

OTHER

Major Series Lacrosse: The Ontario-based indoor Senior-A MSL started its 2016 season this weekend with six teams called the Brampton Excelsiors, Brooklin Redmen, Cobourg Kodiaks, Oakville Rock, Peterborough Lakers and Six Nations Chiefs (Hagersville). The only change from last season was the relocation of the Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks to Cobourg. At the end of the season, the MSL champion plays the champion of the British Columbia-based Western Lacrosse Association for the Mann Cup.

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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