Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
June 23, 2014 - NBA G League (G League)
Atlantic League: A proposed ballpark to be built in the Malden (MA) area of Boston for an Atlantic League team is trying to get state funding to keep the project alive. Plans were initially announced in January 2012, but construction kept being pushed back. The developer is now hoping for completion in 2017 and will know by the end of this summer whether the project will move forward.
South Atlantic League (SALLY): The city of Columbia (SC) approved a development deal to build a new stadium for a possible low Class-A SALLY team. The owner of the league's Savannah Sand Gnats is to supply a relocated team that could be the Sand Gnats or possibly an affiliated team from another league. The 2016 season is being targeted for completion of the stadium. The league's Lakewood (NJ) Blue Claws were to be renamed the Lakewood Pine Barons for a game this weekend as part of a "What Could Have Been Day". The Pine Barons was one of the proposed nicknames for the team prior to its start in the 2001 season.
Can-Am League: The Can-Am League announced the name of its new Ottawa-based franchise will be the Ottawa Champions when it starts play in 2015. The league is the majority owner of the team, but it is seeking additional partners. A team called the Ottawa Rapidz played the 2008 season in the league before folding. With the addition of Ottawa and a proposed team in Welland (Ontario), the Can-Am League could grow to six teams for next season.
National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The new D-League team in Grand Rapids (MI) announced it will be called the Grand Rapids Drive when its starts play in the 2014-15 season. The other three proposed nicknames in a name-the-team contest were Chairmen, Blue Racers and Horse Power. The Grand Rapids Drive will be the D-League affiliate of the NBA's Detroit Pistons and the nickname connects to Detroit's automotive theme. A group of local investors in Grand Rapids had purchased the league's Springfield (MA) Armor team, which joined the league for the 2009-10 season, and moved it to Grand Rapids after the 2013-14 season.
Rivals Professional Football League: After playing a four-week exhibition schedule, the new four-team RPFL is starting its regular season this weekend. The league's Chicago Bearcats team was sold last month during the exhibition season is now listed as the Macomb County (MI) Bearcats. The new owner of the Bearcats said the team will most likely play its 2014 season on the road and find a location in Florida for 2015. It looks as though the Bearcats forfeited their exhibition season games. The other teams are the Akron Blaze, Detroit Cougars (Mount Clemens, MI) and Southern Michigan Mustangs (Gibraltar). As of now, the Bearcats are scheduled to play their 2014 home games at the home of the Detroit Cougars in Mount Clemens.
Stars Football League: The SFL, which has been billed as a professional springtime football league for its past three seasons (2011-13) and cancelled its 2014 season, appears to be planning a return in 2015. The league recently announced new venues are being scheduled for the 2015 season with possible teams in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Charleston (SC), New Orleans, Fort Worth, Georgia, Birmingham (AL), Los Angeles and Albuquerque. The SFL has tried to develop a nationwide group of teams, but has played with only three to four teams mostly based in Florida during its existence.
Fall Experimental Football League: The proposed new FXFL, an outdoor league that wants to eventually become a developmental league for the National Football League, is expected to announce Omaha and Austin as its first two franchise locations. The league plans to have at least six teams when it starts play in October 2014. Other locations under consideration are the New York and Boston areas, Portland (OR), and a city in Florida.
Arena Football League: A minority owner of the AFL's Jacksonville Sharks team has been approved to develop a new Las Vegas-based AFL team for next season. The original AFL, which operated from 1987 through the 2008 season, had teams called the Las Vegas Sting for two seasons (1994-95) and the Las Vegas Gladiators for five seasons (2003-07).
Federal Hockey League: The FHL held an expansion draft for two new teams that will start play in the 2014-15 season. The first of the new teams called the Southwestern Pennsylvania Magic will be located in Belle Vernon, about 35 miles south of Pittsburgh. The second new team will be based in Watertown (NY) and will replace the league's Watertown Privateers team that operated there for the past two seasons. New investors were accepted to play at Watertown's arena in 2014-15, so ownership of the Watertown Privateers decided not to move forward with the Privateers. The FHL's three other teams-the Danbury (CT) Whalers, Danville (IL) Dashers and Dayton (OH) Demonz-are expected to return and the league plans to have five teams in 2014-15. The Privateers played as the Thousand Island Privateers based in Alexandria Bay (NY) for two seasons (2010-12), moved to Watertown as the Thousand Island Privateers for one season (2012-13) and became the Watertown Privateers last season.
Southern Professional Hockey League: The Augusta (GA) RiverHawks of the SPHL were forced to sit out the 2013-14 season due to the failure of the ice system at its home arena. There has been no progress on repairs to the system and the owner is considering a move to Macon (GA), possibly for the 2015-16 season. The RiverHawks had played three seasons (2010-13) in the league. The SPHL had a team called the Macon Trax that was part the league's inaugural 2004-05 season. A potential ownership group is trying to bring a team back to Biloxi (MS), possibly in time for the 2014-15 season. This would be a totally different franchise than the SPHL's Biloxi-based Mississippi Surge, which suspended operations after the 2013-14 season. The Surge joined the SPHL as an expansion team for the 2009-10 season. The new group stated that it would need everything in place by mid-July to play in 2014-15 or it would wait until 2015-16.
Liga MX: Mexico's top soccer league known as Liga MX will start its 2014-15 two-part (Apertura/Clausura) season next month and will again have 18 teams. The Leones Negros (Guadalajara) club was promoted to Liga MX from the Ascenso MX relegation league, while the Cancun-based Atlante club was relegated from the Liga MX to the Ascenso MX.
Ascenso MX: Mexico's Ascenso MX soccer league, which operates as the relegation league for the Liga MX, will drop from 15 to 14 teams for its 2014-15 two-part (Apertura/Clausura) season that starts next month. The Delfines FC (Ciudad del Carmen) was dropped by the league after the 2013-14 season. The Zacatepec 1948 club was supposed to be relegated from the Ascenso MX to the Segunda Division, but the club purchased the Ascenso MX's Cruz Azul Hidalgo team and will remain in the league as the Zacatepec 1948. The Deportiva Tepic club was promoted from the Segunda Division to the Ascenso MX, while the Leones Negros club was promoted from the Ascenso MX to the Liga MX. Other changes include the Estudiantes Tecos relocating to become the Zacatecas Mineros and last season's Ballenas Galeana club being taken over by the Irapuato club. With Zacatepec purchasing Cruz Azul, no Ascenso MX club was relegated to the Segunda Division.
Major League Soccer: The owners of the El Paso Chihuahuas baseball team in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League have expressed an interest in bringing an MLS franchise to the area in the future. With the proposed new Miami MLS expansion franchise striking out at two potential stadium sites, Palm Beach County (FL) with its 30,000-seat stadium at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton has been mentioned as an option for an MLS team. Boca Raton is about 45 miles north of Miami. Other markets still interested in an MLS expansion team include Las Vegas, San Antonio, Minneapolis and Sacramento.
Western Indoor Soccer League: A new regional elite amateur men's indoor soccer league, currently referred to as the Western Indoor Soccer League, is trying to get off the ground in the Northwest region of the United States for the fall of 2014. The league wants to do for indoor soccer what the outdoor elite-level Evergreen Premier League, which started play this spring with eight teams based in Washington State, has done for outdoor soccer in the Northwest.
New Indoor Summertime Lacrosse League: The ILIndoor.com site has reported on a new summertime indoor lacrosse league based in the United States that is under development for a start in 2016. The new league wants to place teams in 3,000- to 7,000-seat arenas in non-traditional markets. Oklahoma, Nebraska, California, Florida and the eastern seaboard are said to be under consideration for the 2016 season. An official announcement on the new league is expected next month.
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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