Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
December 2, 2013 - ECHL (ECHL)
Canadian-American League (Can-Am): The Can-Am League announced the Newark (NJ) Bears, one of its five teams from last season, will not return for the 2014 season. The Newark Bears were an original member of the Atlantic Baseball League for its 1998 season and switched to the Can-Am League for the 2011 season. The Can-Am League also announced its remaining four teams-the New Jersey Jackals (Montclair), Quebec Capitales, Rockland Boulders (Pomona, NY) and Trois-Rivieres Aigles (Quebec)-will play as a fourth division of the independent American Association instead of operating as a separate league for the 2014 season. The Can-Am League evolved from the former Northeast League for the 2005 season and has played an interlocking schedule with AA over the past two seasons. The 2014 AA will have a total of 16 teams aligned into four-team North, Central, South and Can-Am divisions. The Can-Am League is still looking to add more teams and announced a team in Ottawa (Ontario) will join in 2015. The league is seeking an owner for the Ottawa team, but will operate the team until local ownership is found.
South Atlantic League (SALLY): The Hagerstown Suns of the low Class-A SALLY applied with Minor League Baseball to move to Fredericksburg (VA), but that is on hold until final details of a financing plan are in place for a new baseball stadium to be built in Fredericksburg. The partners planning to build the stadium have gotten approval for financing, but they are still working on the terms. The Suns hope to move to Fredericksburg for the 2015 season.
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League now lists ten teams with the addition of two new Arizona-based teams called the Bisbee Blue and Douglas Diablos. All eight teams from last season will return and the league is now aligned into a five-team Northern Division and a five-team Southern Division, which includes the new Bisbee and Douglas teams. Earlier this year, the proposed American West Baseball League announced a team called the Bisbee Copperheads that has yet to develop.
Independent Baseball League: The proposed independent IBL, which has been trying to get off the ground since 2012, plans to start play in June 2014 with four teams in a Midwestern Division. As of now, the league will have three Ohio-based teams with the Tiffin Saints, Shovel City Crawlers (Marion) and a Marion-based IBL travel team, along with a fourth team based in Adrian (MI). Each team will play a 36-game schedule. The league plans to add future teams in Southern and Eastern divisions.
Australian Baseball League: The Australian Baseball League, which receives funding from Major League Baseball, recently started its 2013-14 season that runs from late October to late January. The league began play in the 2010-11 season and has had the same six teams called the Adelaide Bite, Brisbane Bandits, Canberra Cavalry, Melbourne Aces, Perth Heat, and Sydney Blue Sox.
Premier Basketball League: The PBL has added two additional teams called the Buffalo 716ers and the Erie (PA) Hurricane for its upcoming 2014 season. At various times during the past two years, the Buffalo 716ers were listed as a proposed member of the American Basketball Association (ABA), Independent Basketball Association (IBA) and Central Basketball League (CBL). The Erie Hurricane was at one time announced as a member of the CBL and then planned to join the IBA.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced it will have its first university team during the 2014-15 season with the addition of the William Tucker University Freedom Eagles based in the Newport News (VA) area.
Canadian Football League: The CFL's new Ottawa RedBlacks franchise, which will start play in 2014 and increase the league to nine teams, has begun signing players and will participate in an expansion draft later this month. With the addition of Ottawa, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will move to the West Division creating a five-team West Division and a four-team East Division. The league hopes to eventually add a fifth East Division team based in the Atlantic Canada provinces. The cities of Moncton (New Brunswick) and Halifax (Nova Scotia) have been considered as expansion locations, but either location would still need a suitable stadium and ownership group.
Global Indoor Football League: The proposed Canadian-based GIFL announced four potential locations for teams that will participate in a 2014 Summer Showcase. The four Ontario locations being considered are Guelph, Mississauga, Oshawa and Windsor.
ECHL: The ECHL announced plans to add an expansion team called the Indianapolis Fuel for the 2014-15 season. The city had a minor professional hockey team called the Indianapolis Ice that played in the former International Hockey League from 1988 to 1999 and the Central Hockey League from 1999 to 2004. After the Ice left Indianapolis, a new Tier-I junior hockey team called the Indiana Ice was established in the city and has been part of the United States Hockey League since the 2004-05 season.
American Hockey League: The Lehigh Valley Phantoms team, which is currently playing as the Adirondack Phantom (Glens Falls, NY) in the AHL, unveiled the new jerseys the team will wear when it starts play as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms next season at its new arena in Allentown (PA). The AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms moved to Glens Falls as the Adirondack Phantoms for the 2009-10 season and the team has been playing their on a temporary basis while waiting for completion of the arena in Allentown.
Major League Soccer: The Houston Dynamo of the MLS announced it has entered into an affiliation agreement with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer Leagues PRO league for the 2014 season. This will allow the Dynamo to loan a minimum of four MLS-contracted players to the Riverhounds. With this affiliation in place, the Dynamo will not place a team in the 2014 MLS Reserve League. Four other MLS teams established similar affiliations with USL PRO league teams in 2013 instead of operating a separate team in the MLS Reserve League. These MSL/USL PRO affiliations included Sporting Kansas City/Orlando City Lions, Philadelphia Union/Harrisburg City Lions, New England Revolution/Rochester Rhinos and D.C. United/Richmond Kickers.
National Women's Soccer League: The Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer is behind an effort to place a women's team in the professional NWSL, possibly in time for the 2014 season. The NWSL played its inaugural season in 2013 with eight teams and previously announced there would be no expansion in 2014. Prior to the recent involvement by the Houston Dynamo, the Houston Aces club from the Women's Premier Soccer League announced its intention earlier this year to develop a Houston-based NWSL expansion team for the 2015 season. It does not appear the Houston Aces are currently in the Dynamo's plans for a NWSL team. A new Houston NWSL team was not expected to take the Dynamo name.
United Soccer Leagues - Premier Development League: The Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL PRO league announced they will add an under-23 team in the PDL for the 2014 season. The new PDL team is also expected to be called the Riverhounds.
United Soccer Leagues - PRO: The new USL PRO league team called the Sacrament Republic FC is supposed to start play in 2014, but construction on a proposed 8,000-seat field at Cal Expo has yet to start. The Republic, which is considering an eventual affiliation with the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer, has a higher goal of eventually moving up to the MLS in time for the 2016 season. Another group in suburban Elk Grove is working on a financing plan on its own MLS-style stadium for a possible MLS expansion team.
United Soccer Leagues - W-League: The women's USL W-League announced a new team called the Sedona FC Strikers (Arizona) will be added to the Western Conference for the 2014 season.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The Seattle-based Emerald City FC will not return in 2014 after playing two seasons in the WPSL. A new team called Tacoma City FC announced plans to join in 2015, but the league would like the team to start in 2014.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the "The Leagueology Almanac 2012-13", 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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