Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
April 28, 2014 - American Association (AA)
American Association: The ownership of the former American Association team called the El Paso Diablos announced the team will be called the Joplin (MO) Blasters as it moves to southwest Missouri. The nickname honors the area's mining heritage. Renovations to the city's baseball stadium are supposed to begin in August 2014 with the Blasters planning to start play in the 2015 season.
Pacific Association: The independent Pacific Association has confirmed the league will have four California-based teams for the 2014 season. These will include the returning San Rafael Pacifics and Vallejo Admirals, along with new teams called the Sonoma Stompers and Pittburg Mettle. Of the five league members at the end of the 2013 season, the Bay Cal Lumberjacks, formerly the East Bay Lumberjacks, and the two Hawaii-based teams called the Hawaii Stars and Maui Na Koa Ikaika did not return for the 2014 season. The two Hawaii-based teams suspended play for 2014 due to travel and lodging costs for the California-based teams. The owner of the Hawaii-based teams will operate the league's Vallejo Admirals for the 2014 season, but the Hawaii teams could return as the owner is working to develop a Hawaii Professional Baseball League for a possible start in the 2015 season.
Atlantic League: The eight-team Atlantic League started its 2014 season this past week and underwent a slight realignment of teams within its two divisions. The Somerset (NJ) Patriots moved to the Liberty Division that also includes the Long Island (NY) Ducks, Camden (NJ) Riversharks and Bridgeport Bluefish. The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Waldorf) moved to the Freedom Division that also features the Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers, Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters and York (PA) Revolution. The league hopes to expand to 12 teams in the future and add a Western Division of teams in Texas and other locations.
Frontier League: The city council in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin (WI) voted down a plan to use public funds to build a new ballpark for a proposed Frontier League team.
Independent Baseball League: The proposed new IBL has posted a schedule for its inaugural 2014 season that will feature four teams playing from late May to late July. Teams include the Adrian (MI) Pioneers, Tiffin (OH) Saints, Shovel City Crawlers (Marion, OH) and a league-operated travel team called the Ohio Travelers, which will be based out of Marion (OH).
USPA Extension Basketball League: The U.S. Pro Athlete Enterprises (USPA) plans to launch a new Extension Basketball League for former National Basketball Association players who are one to four years removed from the sport. The league plans to start in the summer of 2014 with 16 teams each playing seven home and seven away games in the months of July and August. The USPA does not have a direct connection to the NBA, but does have a relationship with the NBA Players Association and the Retired Players Association. The Extension Basketball League is considering teams for Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington (DC). The USPA eventually wants to develop similar leagues in other sports with former players from the National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.
Bikini Basketball Association: The women's BBA is planning for its second season to be played in the summer of 2014. The league will again have four teams with the returning Houston Inferno, Illinois Heart (Chicago) and Miami Spice, along with the new Atlanta Storm team that replaces the Las Vegas Fantasy.
Central Basketball Development League: The CBDL's 2014 standings now list only six Florida-based teams in the Eastern Conference, as the four-team Western Conference of teams in Louisiana and Texas is gone. At one point in its planning for its second season in 2014, the league had 18 proposed teams. It looks as though the Fort Pierce team, once called the Warriors and then the Royals, is now the Fort Pierce Finest.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced the Brownsville-based South Texas Stingrays, which dropped out of the league during the 2013-14 season, have moved north to Rio Hondo (TX) outside of Harlingen for the 2014-15 season. The league's Philadelphia Spirit team that was announced in July 2013 for a start in the 2013-14 season will be holding tryouts in May for a start in the 2014-15 season.
United Men's Basketball League: The SC All Stars (Greenville, SC) team, which has been a member of the UMBL, is also playing in the 2014 Tobacco Road Basketball League season that runs from January to mid-June as part of an inter-league competition agreement. The UMBL states it will start a 2014 season in June after the TRBL season ends. That will allow teams from the UMBL and TRBL to play in both leagues.
Arena Football League: A new minority owner of the AFL's Jacksonville Sharks has expressed interest in eventually developing his own AFL franchise in the Las Vegas market. The original AFL, which operated from 1987 to through the 2008 season, had a team called the Las Vegas Sting for two seasons (1994-95) until it moved to become the Anaheim Piranhas.
Continental Indoor Football League: Due to financial issues, the CIFL's Port Huron Patriots team has ended its 2014 season early with two games remaining on the schedule.
Legends Football League - United States: The indoor seven-on-seven LFL-US, formerly known as the Lingerie Football League, started its 2014 season earlier this month with ten teams. The Eastern Conference includes the Atlanta Steam, Baltimore Charm, Jacksonville Breeze, Omaha Heart and Toledo Crush, while the Western Conference has the Chicago Bliss, Green Bay Chill, Las Vegas Sin, Los Angeles Temptation and Seattle Mist. Of the 12 teams from last season, the Philadelphia Passion and Minnesota Valkyrie did not return and the Cleveland Crush relocated to become the Toledo Crush.
Legends Football League - Australia: Earlier this month, the LFL-Australia announced it was adding a fifth team in the city of Adelaide and recently announced the team would be called the Adelaide Arsenal. The LFL-Australia completed its inaugural 2013-14 season with four teams in February 2014 and would like to expand to six teams for its second season.
Federal Hockey League: The four-team professional FHL is still interested in bringing an expansion team to Winston-Salem (NC) for the 2014-15 season after the league held a successful regular season game in the area last month. Another expansion team to be based in Western Pennsylvania, most likely in Connellsville (PA) about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, was announced earlier this month.
Western States Hockey League: The junior-level WSHL, which is a member of the Amateur Athletic Union and not affiliated with USA Hockey, announced the Rio Rancho-based New Mexico Renegades team has moved to Springfield (MO) where the team will play as the Springfield Express starting with the 2014-15 season. The Renegades played five seasons (2009-14) in the WSHL. Springfield had a previous junior hockey team called the Springfield Sting for four seasons (2001-05) in USA Hockey's Tier-II North American Hockey League.
Northern States Junior Hockey League: The NSJHL, which is affiliated with the Amateur Athletic Union, will add three new teams called the Lockport (NY) Express, Roc City Royals (Rochester, NY) and Central New York Stallions (Morrisville, NY) for the 2014-15 season. The league's Maine Moose (Hallowell) has come under new ownership and was renamed the Maine Timberwolves.
Major League Soccer: The MLS expansion team called the New York City FC plans will play its home games at Yankee Stadium when the team starts play in the 2015 season. Attempts to build a soccer-specific stadium in either Queens or the Bronx have been met with resistance. The club is still looking for a suitable stadium site within the boundaries of New York City.
United Soccer Leagues - W-20 League: The USL W-20 League, which is a women's under-20 elite league aligned operationally with the USL W-League and previously called the Super-20 Women's League, announced its 2014 alignment that will feature 20 teams aligned into a five-team Midwest Division, a five-team North Atlantic Division, a six-team South Atlantic Division and a four-team Southeast Division. Six of the W-20 teams this season serve as reserve teams for W-League clubs.
Evergreen Premier League of Washington: The new eight-team EPLWA, which is an elite-level adult men's soccer league based in the state of Washington, started its inaugural 2014 season this weekend. The teams include the Bellingham United FC Hammers, Seattle Stars FC, South Sound FC Shock, Spokane Shadow, Vancouver Victory FC, Wenatchee United FC, Westsound FC and Yakima United FC. Each team will play a 14-game schedule from April through July.
Major League Lacrosse: The eight-team MLL, which is a men's professional outdoor/field lacrosse league, started its 2014 season this weekend. The Hamilton (Ontario) Nationals dropped out after the 2013 season, but the league created a new franchise called the Florida Launch (Palm Beach County) that is comprised mostly of players from the Nationals. Hamilton got its start as the Toronto Nationals team that played two seasons (2009-10) in the league before moving to Hamilton for the 2011 season. The MLL had tested the Palm Beach County market by playing its 2012 All-Star game and a 2013 regular-season game in Boca Raton. The MLL started play in 2001 and is entering its 14th season.
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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