Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
April 29, 2013 - Midwest League (MWL)
Midwest League: The Peoria Chiefs of the low Class-A Midwest League are struggling financially and the city is trying to keep the team from leaving by working with local lenders and corporate sponsors like Caterpillar.
South Atlantic League (SALLY): The city of Hagerstown (MD) is evaluating three different sites as it considers whether to build a new ballpark for the Hagerstown Suns of the low Class-A SALLY. The city of Fredericksburg (VA) has been exploring the possibility of a new ballpark and expressed interest in the Suns. The city of Winchester (VA) had been trying to come up with its own ballpark proposal to lure the Suns away from Hagerstown.
Major League Baseball: MLB's Toronto Blue Jays are negotiating to play some exhibition games in Montreal, which was home to the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 2004. The Expos relocated to Washington (DC) for the 2005 season after playing 22 of its 81 home games in Puerto Rico in both the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Recently, a group was formed to initiate a feasibility study for the possible return of an MLB team to Montreal.
National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA's Philadelphia 76ers have purchased an NBA D-League franchise that will be called the Delaware 87ers and will be based on the University of Delaware campus in Newark (DE). The nickname was chosen because Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Since the NBA team is known as the Sixers, the Delaware team will be referred to as the Sevens. The Philadelphia 76ers purchased the D-League's dormant Utah Flash franchise, which played four seasons (2007-11) before sitting out the past two seasons. The 76ers join five other NBA teams that own and operate their D-League teams, while six other NBA teams have one-to-one relationships with D-League teams.
National Basketball League of Canada: The Oshawa Power of the NBL-Canada announced plans to relocate the franchise to Mississauga, just outside Toronto, for the 2013-14 season. The team is expected to be called the Mississauga Power. The league plans to add two new Ontario-based teams called the Ottawa SkyHawks and the Brampton A's for the 2013-14 season. The NBL-Canada was said to be searching for local ownership of the Montreal Jazz team, which was operated by the league this past season.
Florida Basketball Association: The FBA has started its 2013 season with four teams. The Florida Flight (Orlando), Heartland Prowl (Lake Wales) and Tampa Bay Rebels return from last season, while last year's Palm Beach Titans were renamed the Palm Beach Knights for 2013.
Continental Basketball League: The Raleigh Rough Riders have announced its home schedule for a 2013 season in the CBL. The Rough Riders will play home games starting next month against four other North Carolina-based teams called the Garner GrayHawks, Fayetteville Shipmen, Charlotte Hawks and Durham Bulldogs. The CBL last played a 2011 season with eight southeastern teams, but sat out the 2012 season. FOOTBALL
Canadian Football League: The new Ottawa-based CFL franchise that will start play in 2014 is expected to be called the Ottawa RedBlacks. The official introduction of the team's name will be June 8, 2013.
Stars Football League: The outdoor SFL announced it will start its third season on June 8, 2013 with four teams playing a doubleheader. Participating teams will include the Daytona Beach Racers, Fort Lauderdale Barracudas, Palm Beach Swamp Dogs and Miami Ironmen. Miami is new for 2013 and the Swamp Dogs were the Fort Myers Swamp Dogs last season. It is uncertain if a previously announced fifth team called the Fort Pierce Orange will be part of the 2013 season.
Women's Indoor Football League: The proposed new professional WIFL being developed by Blanchette Sports Holdings plans to start play in the spring of 2014 with 15 teams. The league will concentrate on markets in the eastern United States with an eight-team North Conference to include Baltimore, Charlotte, Fayetteville (NC), New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Richmond and Washington (DC) and a South Conference with Atlanta, Birmingham, Columbia (SC), Lakeland (FL), Montgomery, Orlando and Tampa. The league originally planned to have some teams in the Midwest and on the West Coast, but those markets will now be considered for expansion after the first season.
Women's Arena Football League: The proposed new WAFL was organized in 2011 and now has tryout information for teams called the Atlanta Archers, Dallas Darlings, Houston Lady Oilers, New Orleans Bayou Queens and Orlando Eclipse. The league plans to play a spring schedule of 8-on-8 indoor football with players outfitted in sports bras and shorts.
Sugar N Spice Football League: The Texas-based women's SSFL has announced a 2013 schedule for its second full season that will feature seven teams playing from May 4 to July 13, 2013. The league had five teams last season, but has added the new Houston Venus and LRGV (Lower Rio Grande Valley) Pirates. The Pirates were originally announced as the South Padre Pirates. Teams play full-contact arena-style football and are outfitted in two-piece uniforms.
American Hockey League: The AHL's Hartford-based Connecticut Whale will reportedly change its name back to the Hartford Wolf Pack for the 2013-14 season. The Hartford team joined the AHL for the 1997-98 season when the Binghamton Rangers relocated to become the Hartford Wolf Pack. The Wolf Pack changed its name to the Connecticut Whale during the 2010-11 season. The team also considered the Connecticut Wolf Pack as its new name. The National Hockey League's St. Louis Blues have reached a three-year affiliation agreement with the AHL's Chicago Wolves after the Blues' Peoria Rivemen AHL franchise was sold to the NHL's Vancouver Canucks. The AHL's new Des Moines-based Iowa Wild, an affiliate of the NHL's Minnesota Wild starting next season, appears interested in working with the Des Moines Buccaneers junior hockey team of the Tier-I United States Hockey League to possibly host camps and other promotional events.
ECHL: The Trenton (NJ) Titans of the ECHL have ceased operations and will not be part of the 2013-14 season. The team has been part of the league for the past two seasons (2011-13) and might try to return for the 2014-15 season. Trenton joined the ECHL in 1999 with a team called the Trenton Titans that played eight seasons (1999-2007) until it became the Trenton Devils for four seasons (2007-11). After the Devils folded, a new ECHL franchise called the Trenton Titans joined the league in 2011.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: Last week the owners of the Prince Edward Island Rocket of the QMJHL announced they received an offer to buy the franchise from an interested buyer who reportedly wanted to move the team to Sorel-Tracy (Quebec), about 50 miles northeast of Montreal. A group of local investors have now stepped forward and apparently reached a tentative deal to purchase the QMJHL team that will keep it in Charlottetown (PEI). Back in September 2012, the Rocket announced plans to change the team's nickname to the P.E.I. Islanders starting with the 2013-14 season. Plans to announce the new team name were put on hold when the potential sale and relocation came up. It is uncertain if the new ownership will change the team's name to the Islanders.
North American Soccer League: The new Indianapolis-based Division II NASL team that plans to start play in 2014 announced the team will be called the Indy Seven. The name is in reference to the eleven players on the field for soccer matches and to Indiana's 11th Regiment in the Civil War.
United Soccer Leagues - W-20: The USL W-20, which was known as the Women's Super-20 League since its start in 2006, announced it will have 23 teams aligned in four regional divisions called the North Atlantic, Midwest, New England and South Atlantic. The W-20 is an elite-level under-20 soccer league that recently announced a name change and an operational alignment with the USL W-League.
Major League Soccer: The MLS hopes to announce within six weeks its plans for a new 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in New York City (Flushing Meadow Park) that will become home to the league's 20th franchise and a rival for its current New York Red Bulls team based in Harrison (NJ). This stadium deal is separate from a 25,000-seat stadium the New York Cosmos of the Division II North American Soccer League are trying to build on Long Island near the Queens-Nassau County border. The league had earlier talks with the Cosmos about becoming an MLS expansion team, but the Cosmos no longer appear interested in the MLS.
Major League Lacrosse: The outdoor (field lacrosse) MLL started its 13th season this weekend with the same eight teams as last season. The only change was the Long Island Lizards changing its name to the New York Lizards for 2013. Other teams include the Boston Cannons, Charlotte Hounds, Chesapeake Bayhawks (Annapolis, MD), Denver Outlaws, Hamilton (Ontario) Nationals, Ohio Machine (Columbus) and Rochester (NY) Rattlers.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the "The Leagueology Almanac 2011-12", 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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