Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 22, 2014 - North American Soccer League (NASL)
California League: The owner of the Bakersfield Blaze in the high Class-A California League will present plans next week to the city of Salinas (CA), about 200 miles to the northwest, for a proposed new stadium that could become home to a relocated Bakersfield Blaze team. A previous team called the Salinas Spurs played 11 seasons (1982-92) in the California League and an independent team called the Salinas Peppers was part of the 1997 season in the now-defunct Western Baseball League.
Frontier League: The city of Jackson (MI) plans to authorize a study to determine whether the region will support an independent baseball team and a local businessman is interested in bringing a Frontier League team to the city. If the project moves forward, details for financing ballpark construction would need to be worked out. The Frontier League has a current Michigan-based team called the Traverse City Beach Bums.
Atlantic League: The developer of a mixed-used project called One Loudoun (Ashburn, VA), which was to include a ballpark for a proposed Atlantic League team called the Loudoun Hounds, is trying to terminate a land lease with VIP Sports & Entertainment. VIP was unable to finance the ballpark construction as promised by an April 2014 deadline, so the developer wants to find a new group to build the ballpark that could also be home to a soccer team (Virginia Cavalry FC) in the North American Soccer League.
Southern League: With the Huntsville Stars of the Double-A Southern League moving to a new stadium in Biloxi (MS) in 2015 or 2016, the city of Huntsville is trying to find a site near downtown where it will try to build its own new stadium to attract another minor league baseball team.
National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): Of the 18 teams in the upcoming 2014-15 season of the NBA's D-League, only the Fort Wayne Mad Ants will not have some sort of one-to-one affiliation with an NBA team. The 13 of 30 NBA teams without a one-to-one affiliation with a D-League team will have the option of placing players with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Of the 17 single affiliation D-League teams, 7 are fully owned and operated by their NBA parent. Nine D-League teams operate under a "hybrid" affiliation in which the NBA team manages and funds the basketball operation while the team remains under local ownership. The general manager of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks owns the D-League's Texas Legends, so these teams have a one-to-one affiliation.
American Professional Basketball League: The New York City Jaguars team in the APBL has changed its name to the NYC Black Eagles.
East Coast Basketball League: The new ECBL reports it will have ten teams each playing a 12-game schedule from late March to late June 2015. Teams will include the Carolina Gladiators (Lumberton, NC), Fayetteville (NC) Crossover, PrimeTime Players (Fort Mill, SC), Queen City Express (Charlotte, NC) and the SC All Stars (Greenville, SC) from the 2014 Tobacco Road Basketball League, plus the Columbia (SC) Crusaders, East Carolina Storm (Wilmington, NC), Fort Gordon Eagles (Augusta, GA), High Point (NC) Hawks and Richmond Redhawks.
Champions Indoor Football: The Wichita-based team in the new CIF, which was created after the 2014 indoor season through a merger of the Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL) and the Lone Star Football League (LSFL), will be called the Wichita Force. A team called the Wichita Wild played in the CPIFL's only two seasons of 2013 and 2014, but it was not part of the new merged league. The Wild's owner was unable to sell the team and another group formed the CIF's new Wichita Force expansion team. The CIF has posted its ten-team alignment that will feature a five-team South Division and a five-team North Division for the inaugural 2015 season. The league will feature three teams (Amarillo Venom, New Mexico Stars and San Angelo Bandits) from the LSFL, four teams (Dodge City Law, Omaha Beef, Salina Bombers and Sioux City Bandits) from the CPIFL, one team (Texas Revolution) from the Indoor Football League and two expansion teams (Gary Dawgs and Wichita Force). Two other 2014 LSFL teams (West Texas Wildcatters and Rio Grande Valley Sol) and five other 2014 CPIFL teams (Bloomington Edge, Kansas Koyotes, Lincoln Haymakers, Oklahoma Defenders and Wichita Wild) did not end up being part of the new merged league for 2015.
Fall Experimental Football League: The proposed new developmental FXFL, which plans to start play next month with four teams, posted its schedule with the Miami Blacktips now listed simply as the Blacktips and playing only three road games in the 2014 season. The Blacktips had planned to play home games at Florida International University. Originally, all teams were to play three home and three away games, but now the other three teams will each play a total of five games with the Omaha Mammoths playing four home games, the Brooklyn Bolts playing three home games and the Boston Brawlers playing two home games.
Federal Hockey League: The six-team minor professional FHL announced its 2014-15 schedule and the league is expected to be aligned into three-team Eastern and Western Divisions. The Eastern Division will have the returning Danbury (CT) Whalers along with new teams called the Berkshire Battalion (North Adams, MA) and Watertown (NY) Wolves. The Western Division will include the returning Danville (IL) Dashers and Dayton (OH) Demonz along with the new SouthWest Pennsylvania Magic (Belle Vernon), or SWPA Magic. The league operated with only four teams last season. The Watertown Privateers did not return, but were replaced by the new Watertown Wolves team.
ECHL: Rumors have started again about the possibility of the 21-team ECHL merging with the 7-team Central Hockey League. The two leagues apparently met this week to discuss a merger. Each league has been involved in previous mergers. The ECHL merged with the former West Coast Hockey League prior to the 2003-04 season, while the CHL merged with the former Western Professional Hockey League prior to the 2001-02 season.
Canadian Independent Junior Hockey League: The proposed six-team CIJHL will not start play in 2014-15 as originally planned. The CIJHL had been sanctioned as a member of the Amateur Athletic Union under the United Hockey Union. The league was supposed to have teams called the Delta Ravens, Fleetwood Falcons (Surrey), Langley Mustangs, Pitt Meadows Foxes, Surrey Rave and Walnut Grove Wolverines (Langley) all located in the Vancouver (British Columbia) area.
Northern States Hockey League: The junior-level NSHL is no longer affiliated with the Amateur Athletic Union and its United Hockey Union. The AAU/UHU, whose leagues operate independently of USA Hockey and the Canadian Hockey Association (Hockey Canada), has three remaining member leagues called the Midwest Junior Hockey League, Western States Hockey League and the new Canadian International Hockey League.
Major League Soccer: The ownership of the Sacramento Republic FC of the United Soccer Leagues Division-III PRO league reached an agreement to purchase a site in downtown Sacramento for a proposed soccer-specific stadium that could help it acquire an MLS franchise. During a recent visit to the city, MLS officials were impressed with Sacramento's efforts and will keep the city under consideration for expansion. The MLS confirmed the Los Angeles-based Chivas USA team could sit out next season. A final decision on next season will be made once the sale of the league-owned team is completed in the next couple of months. The league was looking for ownership that would commit to building a new stadium and keeping a re-branded team in Los Angeles.
United Soccer Leagues - PRO: The new Charlotte-based USL PRO league team announced it will be called the Charlotte Independence when it starts play in 2015. The owner of the Charlotte Hounds in the outdoor Major League Lacrosse purchased the USL PRO rights from the Charlotte Eagles USL PRO team. The Charlotte Eagles will continue to exist as a USL Premier Development League team in 2015. The Charlotte Eagles had been part of various USL leagues since 1993 including the past four seasons (2011-14) in the USL PRO league. The Charlotte Independence and the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer (MLS) signed a two-year affiliation agreement that is awaiting league approval. The Portland Timbers of the MLS announced plans to launch its own USL PRO team in the Portland area for the 2015 season. The Timbers were affiliated with the USL PRO league's Sacramento Republic FC in 2014. The city of New Westminster (British Columbia) voted against renovating its local stadium that was to become home to a USL PRO affiliate for the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS. The Whitecaps will now consider other locations in the Vancouver area for its USL PRO team.
North American Soccer League: The commissioner of the ten-team Division-II NASL confirmed teams in Jacksonville (Armada) and Oklahoma City will join next season. A team in Virginia will join in 2016 and the league will have 18 to 20 teams by the 2018 season. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hartford and Dallas are under consideration for expansion and the league would like to add another Canadian team, possibly Hamilton (Ontario).
National Lacrosse League: The indoor NLL announced the relocated Philadelphia Wings franchise, which will play at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville (CT) starting with the 2015 season, has been renamed the New England Black Wolves. The team decided to use New England in its name for broader appeal to fans in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The league had some past experience in New England. The New England Blazers team was based in Worcester (MA) for three seasons (1989-91) and became the Boston Blazers for six seasons (1992-97). Another more recent Boston Blazers team returned for three seasons (2009-11) in the NLL.
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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