Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
May 1, 2017 - Midwest League (MWL)
National Urban Professional Baseball League: The proposed new NUPBL is trying to organize for 2018 and is targeting African-American communities and players, although it will not be limited to just African-American players. The league will start holding tryouts late next month and players chosen will take part in an eight-week fall league in Arizona. The NUPBL would then start its inaugural season in May 2018 with four teams playing a 90-game schedule. As of now, Jackson (MS), Millington (TN) and DeSoto (TX) have been confirmed as sites for three of the teams. Pine Bluff (AR) is reported to be under consideration for the league's fourth team.
Can-Am League: The independent Can-Am League recently announced that a national team from the Dominican Republic will replace South Korea's Yeoncheon Miracle team as part of the league's 2017 international schedule, which originally included the South Korean team and the Cuban National Team. The South Korean team experienced visa and travel issues as it prepared for its Can-Am schedule. As part of their 2017 schedules, each of the six Can-Am teams will now play a series in June 2017 against the Cuban National Team and the team from the Dominican Republic. Midwest League: The 16-team Midwest League and the 14-team South Atlantic League comprise the 30 teams in Minor League Baseball's low Class-A designation. Both leagues started play earlier this month with the same alignment and teams as last season. The Midwest League is aligned in eight-team Eastern and Western divisions, while the SAL is aligned in seven-team Northern and Southern divisions.
Appalachian League (APPY): Although the city of Elizabethton (TN) has an agreement to host the Elizabethton Twins of the high Rookie-level APPY for the 2016 season, the mayor is concerned Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins will not participate in funding ballpark upgrades and that the Twins are looking at other markets for its APPY affiliate.
Texas League: The Frisco RoughRiders of the Double-A Texas League will be renamed the Frisco Los Jinetes, or Riders in Spanish, as part of their Cinco de Mayo celebration for a game on May 5, 2017.
New York-Penn League: The Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, OH) of the short-season Class-A NYPL will be renamed the Mahoning Valley Packards for a game on August 12, 2017. The promotion is being held with the National Packard Museum located in nearby Warren (OH) as a tribute to the legacy of the Packard automobile in the area.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA's New Orleans Pelicans have reduced the list of potential cities for its planned NBA G-League team from 11 to 6. The list now includes Pensacola (FL), Jackson (MS), Mobile (AL) and the Louisiana cities of Baton Rouge, St. Tammany Parish and Shreveport.
Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA, which is affiliated with the men's American Basketball Association and plans to re-launch this summer, announced its first combine will be held next month in Newark (NJ) for several of its proposed teams. The WABA currently has nine potential 2017 teams listed: the Middle Georgia Pits (Dublin), Boston Clovers, New Jersey Expressions, Long Island Storm, Chicago Lady Steam, Orlando Splash, Maryland Lady Bulldogs (Salisbury), Texas Lady Red Wolves and the WNY Snowflakes.
Legends Football League - USA: The women's LFL, which was formerly known as the Lingerie Football League, started its 2017 season earlier this month and again has eight teams aligned in a four-team Eastern Conference and a four-team Western Conference. Two 2016 expansion teams called the Dallas Desire and New England Liberty (Manchester, NH) ceased operations after last season. The expansion Pittsburgh Rebellion replaced New England in the Eastern Conference and the new Denver Dream replaced the Dallas Desire in the Western Conference for 2017. The LFL season runs from mid-April to early August 2017 with each team playing a four-game schedule. The LFL had a previous team called the Denver Dream that played in the league's inaugural 2009-10 season before ceasing operations.
Supreme Indoor Football: The new indoor football league called the SIF started its inaugural 2017 season earlier this month with five participating teams called the Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC), Georgia MOB (Conyers), Triangle Torch (Raleigh, NC) and two travel-only teams called the Cap City Bulls (Austin) and Greenville (SC) Dragons. The SIF had several other proposed teams like the South Carolina Ravens (Florence), Anderson (SC) Gladiators and Louisiana Cottonmouths (Baton Rouge) that did not make it to the 2017 season.
Arena Pro Football: The Alabama Outlawz (Columbiana) were forced to cancel its first home game this weekend due to the playing field not meeting league requirements. It is uncertain if the team will be able to complete the remainder of its home schedule.
Southern Professional Hockey League: The minor SPHL officially announced the addition of a team in Birmingham (AL) for the 2017-18 season. The new Birmingham franchise owner, who owned a previous team called the Birmingham Bulls that played nine seasons (1992-2001) as part of the ECHL, also plans to call the new SPHL team the Birmingham Bulls. The owner of the league's Columbus (GA) Cottonmouths stated the team needed to find new ownership by the end of the week or it will be forced to cease operations. There have been some discussions with potential new ownership groups, but it is uncertain if a deal can be worked out to make the league deadline for next season.
North American Tier-III Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II North American Hockey League, has approved the sale and relocation of its Chicago Junior Bulldogs team. The Bulldogs will move from Romeoville (IL) to become the Wausau (WI) RiverWolves for the 2017-18 season.
Independent Junior Hockey League: The proposed new IJHL plans to be a totally independent junior league for players under 20 years old. The league currently lists six teams called the Cleveland Chill, Dayton Falcons, Fort Wayne Whalers, Holland (MI) Badgers, Howell Coyotes and Motor City Mustangs in an Eastern Conference with plans for future expansion.
ECHL: The ECHL's expansion team called the Worcester (MA) Railers will be an affiliate of the National Hockey League's New York Islanders when the Railers start play in the 2017-18 season.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The Milwaukee Torrent team in the men's elite-level National Premier Soccer League plans to field a women's team in 2018 that will be part of the WPSL.
Liga Mexicana de Futbol Rapido: Mexico's professional indoor soccer league known as the LMFR started its 2017 season last weekend. The six-team Conferencia Norte (North Conference) includes the returning Deportivo Don Roge de Sabinas Coahuila, Halcones de Miguel Aleman and Lobos de la Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila along with new teams called the Bufalos UAMRA de Reynosa, JM Casabella and Leones de Seleccion Monclova. The four-team Conferencia Occidente (West Conference) features the returning Astros de Tepic, Diablos Macaaray de Culiacan and Jalisco FC along with the new team called Xolos Jalisco. The North plays a 14-week schedule from April to mid-July, while the West plays an 8-week schedule from early May to early July.
United Soccer League "" Division-III League: The USL's proposed D-3 league is not set to start play until the 2019 season, but it is already scouting out potential markets. The USL D-3 has expressed interest in the Lexington (KY) market and its Whitaker Bank Ballpark, which is home to the Lexington Legends baseball team in the low Class-A South Atlantic League.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2015-16: "The Leagueology Almanac" , which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is available for sale at www.amazon.com.
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