Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
December 4, 2017 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL)

BASEBALL

New York-Penn League: A ten-year agreement under which the Rochester Red Wings of the Triple-A International League operated the Batavia (NY) Muckdogs of the short-season Class-A NYPL has expired and the long-term future of the Batavia team is uncertain. Under the agreement, the Red Wings took care of baseball operations for the Muckdogs and in the event the NYPL team was sold the Red Wings were to receive five percent of the proceeds for each year they operated the team. In 2016 an investment group tried to purchase and relocate the Muckdogs to Walforf (MD), but the deal fell through over territorial issues. The Muckdogs' ownership is optimistic the team will play in the 2018 season.

Australian Baseball League: The six-team ABL, which started play in 2010 and receives funding from Major League Baseball, recently started its 2017-18 season that runs from mid-November to late January. The league has had the same six teams called the Adelaide Bite, Brisbane Bandits, Canberra Cavalry, Melbourne Aces, Perth Heat, and Sydney Blue Sox for each season. The ABL is looking to expand by two teams next season and New Zealand has been invited to apply for one of the two teams. Officials in New Zealand are looking for a venue in the city of Auckland where a stadium can be built for an ABL team.

Southern League: The city of Madison (AL) in the Huntsville area has agreed on funding to hire an architectural firm and a construction management firm as it makes its first moves toward a possible new stadium for the Mobile BayBears of the Double-A Southern League.

International League: Sometime next week, the Gwinnett (GA) Braves of the Triple-A International League plan to announce the team's new name that will be selected from six candidates.

BASKETBALL

Women's National Basketball Association: The National Basketball Association's Golden State Warriors will be moving to a new arena in San Francisco for the start of the 2019-20 season and have discussed the possibility of starting a WNBA team once the new arena is completed. A co-owner of the Warriors once owned the San Jose Lasers team in the women's American Basketball League that folded in 1998. The WNBA had a Northern California team called the Sacramento Monarchs about 80 miles from San Francisco, but that team folded after the 2009 season.

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA's Philadelphia 76ers are planning to build a new 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington (DE) that would become home to the team's G-League affiliate called the Delaware 87ers, which is currently based about 15 miles west in Newark (DE). The new arena could break ground in early 2018 and be ready for the 2018-19 season. The Delaware 87ers could also be rebranded as part of the move, pending league approval.

American Basketball Association: The ABA recently announced a new team based in Augusta (GA) will be added for the 2018-19 season. The ABA started its 2017-18 season last month with 110 teams aligned in 10 regional divisions. With that many teams, there are several duplicate team names. Six teams (Plano Mighty Kings, New York Court Kingz, California Sea Kings, San Diego Kings, Georgia Kingz and Colorado Kings) have a variation of "Kings" in their name, three teams (Florida All Stars, Louisiana Cajun All-Stars and Indy Naptown All Stars) have "All Stars" in their name, and three teams (Binghamton Bulldogs, Maryland Bulldogz and Illinois Bulldogs) have a variation of the "Bulldogs" in their name. There are also two "Hawks" teams (Baltimore Hawks and Henderson Hawks), two "Cougars" teams (Colorado Cougars and Carolina) and two "Storm" teams (Virginia Storm and Atlanta Storm).

FOOTBALL

Arena Football League: The AFL's Cleveland Gladiators announced the team will sit dormant for the next two seasons due to renovations planned for its home arena during the summers of 2018 and 2019. The Gladiators expect to resume play in the AFL for the 2020 season. The AFL had five teams last season, but should remain at five teams next season with the addition of a new team in Albany (NY). The Cleveland Gladiators joined the original AFL for the 2008 season with the relocation of the Las Vegas Gladiators. The AFL did not play in 2009 due to bankruptcy, but the Cleveland Gladiators returned to a new version of the AFL that was reorganized for the 2010 season.

National Arena League: Next week, the NAL plans to officially announce new 2018 expansion teams based in Portland (ME) and Greensboro (NC).

Elite Indoor Football: The EIF has added a team called the Sacramento Rush, which reports it will be playing a showcase season in 2018 consisting of four or five road games against EIF teams. A previously announced 2018 travel team called the Alpha Pack Florida is no longer listed as an EIF team.

Fan-Controlled Football League: The proposed new fan-interactive football league, which was originally known as the Interactive Football League and more recently the Electronic Football League (eFL), is now called the Fan-Controlled Football League (FCFL). The new FCFL plans to be the first fan-controlled professional sports league in which fans will interact electronically to serve as head coach and general manager for participating indoor football teams.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: The NHL commissioner has indicated support for the New York Islanders proposed new arena at Belmont Park that would put the team closer to its fan base on Long Island rather than its current home in Brooklyn. The owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes (Raleigh) stated that although a potential buyer was having trouble raising the money to complete the purchase of the Hurricanes, there are other potential buyers interested in the team.

ECHL: The ECHL's Norfolk Admirals have ended its affiliation with the National Hockey League's Nashville Predators after only a few months. The Admirals were struggling on the ice and with attendance. The ECHL's new Maine Mariners (Portland) team, which will start play in the 2018-19 season, officially introduced its logo and colors this week.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The USL's Rochester (NY) Rhinos announced the team will sit out the 2018 season for financial reasons. Although the community responded to the team's recent call for financial support, it was not enough for the team to return. The agency responsible for Hartford's Dillon Stadium has accepted stadium renovation plans from a local group that is trying to bring a USL team to the city.

Major League Soccer: The MLS announced Cincinnati, Sacramento, Detroit and Nashville as the four cities competing for the next two expansion teams that are scheduled to be announced this month. These markets are 4 of 12 that submitted formal bids earlier this year for the league's eventual addition of 4 more teams to grow the MLS to a total of 28 teams. The remaining eight markets of Charlotte, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg are said to still be under consideration for the final two expansion slots to be announced at a later date, but all need varying degrees of work on their soccer stadium plans. The league will add Los Angeles FC in 2018 as the 23rd team. Miami was granted an MLS expansion team a few years ago and has been targeted as the 24th team, but the inability to build a soccer-specific stadium might allow another market to take its expansion slot.

North American Soccer League: As the NASL waits for a decision next month on an appeal to obtain a preliminary injunction to restore its Division-II status, the NASL is down to five of eight teams from the 2017 season along with two previously announced 2018 expansion teams called California United FC (Orange County) and 1904 FC (San Diego). Apparently, six teams called the FC Arizona, Boston City FC, Boca Raton FC, Detroit City FC, Hartford City FC and Virginia Beach City FC from the lower-level National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) had signed letters of intent to join the NASL in 2018, if the league retained Division-II status. The NASL was also negotiating with a new suburban Atlanta team for 2018 and another NPSL team called the New Orleans Jesters had signed a letter of intent to join the NASL for the 2019 season.

National Women's Soccer League: The new NWSL team to be owned and operated by Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake will be called the Utah Royals FC when it starts play in the 2018 season. The NWSL team will play home games at Real Salt Lake's Rio Tinto Stadium.

National Independent Soccer Association: The proposed new Division-III NISA has delayed its spring 2018 start to either July 2018 or the spring of 2019. The NISA has had more trouble than expected in signing teams. Of eight applications received, only teams in Chattanooga, Connecticut and Miami were accepted. Four others in Charlotte, Omaha, Milwaukee and St. Louis needed improvements, while an application from Phoenix was declined. The NISA had planned to have the North American Soccer League as its Division-II partner, but the NASL's Division-II status is uncertain. The NISA has also talked of eventually starting a semi-pro Division-IV league.

National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level NPSL announced the Greenville FC (Greenville, SC) has been added to the South Region's Southeast Conference for the 2018 season.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The outdoor field lacrosse MLL announced its 2018 season schedule will again feature nine teams. The only change from last season is the Rochester (NY) Rattlers being relocated to Frisco (TX) to become the Dallas Rattlers. Other teams include the Atlanta Blaze (Kennesaw, GA), Boston Cannons, Charlotte Hounds, Chesapeake Bayhawks (Annapolis, MD), Denver Outlaws, Florida Launch (Boca Raton), New York Lizards and Ohio Machine (Columbus). The 2018 season runs from late April to early August with each team playing 14 games.

National Lacrosse League: The indoor NLL announced the new Philadelphia franchise will be called the Philadelphia Wings when it starts play in the 2019 season. A former team called the Philadelphia Wings played in 28 seasons (1987-2014) as part of the current NLL, which evolved from the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League (1987-88) and the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (1989-97). The previous Wings team moved to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville (CT) and the team was renamed the New England Black Wolves for the 2015 season.

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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