Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 29, 2014 - Atlantic League (AtL)
Midwest League: The owner of the South Bend (IN) Silver Hawks in the low Class-A Midwest League signed a four-year affiliation deal with the Chicago Cubs, so the team has been renamed the South Bend Cubs. Previously, the team was affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks for 17 years.
California League: The owner of the Bakersfield Blaze in the high Class-A Cal League held a successful meeting this week with the city council in Salinas (CA) to discuss building a new privately financed ballpark and moving the Blaze there, possibly in time for the 2016 season.
South Atlantic League (SALLY): The group trying to build a new ballpark in Fredericksburg (VA) for the relocated Hagerstown (MD) Suns of the low Class-A SALLY has a year to acquire the ballpark site and a year to work out ballpark financing. If all goes according to plans, a new ballpark could be ready for the 2017 season. The Suns' lease in Hagerstown expires after the 2016 season.
Eastern League: Although the planning and zoning commission in Hartford voted against plans for a new ballpark that would house the New Britain Rock Cats of the Double-A Eastern League, final consideration by the Hartford city council will likely determine if the project moves forward.
Atlantic League: The Atlantic League president stated the league will operate with the same eight teams next season. A proposed team in Virginia Beach (VA), previously announced as the Virginia Beach Neptunes, will most likely join in 2016. The proposed Loudoun Hounds (Ashburn, VA) team is involved in litigation and will not join for some time, if ever. The league has a lone team in Texas called the Sugar Land Skeeters and it is still trying to create a four-team division of teams in the Southwest. Fort Worth (TX), which is home to the Fort Worth Cats in United League Baseball, is under consideration for another Texas-based team to join Sugar Land.
East Coast Baseball League: The proposed independent professional ECBL, which previously announced two of its teams as the Newburgh (NY) Newts and the Niagara Wild (Welland, Ontario), plans to place its third team in Waterloo (Ontario). The ECBL will start play in 2015.
Coastal Plain League: The new Holly Springs (NC) team in the summer-collegiate CPL will be called the Holly Springs Salamanders when its starts play in 2015.
Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League: The proposed new MRPBL, which plans to start play in 2015 with teams based in the Northwest region of the United states, announced Vancouver (WA) as a franchise site, pending a stadium contract. The MRPBL previously announced five other team locations.
National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder announced its NBA D-League affiliate for the upcoming 2014-15 season will be called the Oklahoma City Blue. The team played as the Tulsa 66ers since the 2005-06 season and after the Thunder purchased the 66ers in 2008 the team became the sole D-League affiliate of the Thunder. The 66ers lost their arena lease in Tulsa after the 2013-14 season, so the Thunder moved the team to Oklahoma City.
Eastern Basketball Alliance: The EBA has added new teams called the Fayetteville (NC) Express Showcase and Jacksonville (FL) Royals to its Southern Division for the upcoming 2015 season.
Tobacco Road Basketball League: The TRBL has posted an initial schedule for its 2014-15 season. The league calls it a "flex schedule" that allows TRBL teams to schedule games against other TRBL-sanctioned teams from November 1, 2014 to the end of April 2015. The league currently has 16 teams listed in the standings with the addition of a team called the Triangle RunNGun. The HoopForLyfe travel team from last season has found a home and is now the Huntersville (NC) HoopForLyfe. The new Orange County Revolt is now the Raleigh Revolt and the Raleigh Stealth is listed as the Stealth All Stars.
Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: Mexico's top professional basketball league known as the LNBP started its 2014-15 season this week with 14 teams. Of the 14 teams from last season, the Toros de Nuevo Laredo, Angeles de Guerrero and Lechugueros de Leon did not return. The league added a new team in Leon called the Titanicos de Leon along with two other teams called Jefes de Fuerza Lagunera and the Barreteros de Zacatecas. The Barreteros return after dropping out after the 2012-13 season.
Independent Basketball Association: A team called the Cy Fair Cobras has replaced the Houston Xperience in the league's division of full-schedule teams. The Cobras will play home games at Lone Star College in Kingwood (TX), just north of Houston.
Indoor Football League: The Casper-based Wyoming Cavalry of the Indoor Football League announced the team is ceasing operations and will not be part of the 2015 IFL season. The team faced declining attendance over the past few seasons. The loss of Wyoming reduces the IFL Intense Conference to five teams to go with the league's five-team United Conference for 2015. After a team called the Casper Cavalry played the 2000 season in the last of two seasons of an earlier league called the Indoor Football League, a local ownership group formed the Wyoming Cavalry for the first season of the National Indoor Football League in 2001. The Cavalry played seven seasons (2001-07) in the NIFL, moved to the American Indoor Football Association for three seasons (2008-10) and joined the IFL for the 2011 season.
Northern Pacific Hockey League: The previously announced Tacoma Knights expansion team in the Tier-III junior-level NPHL will not play as planned in the 2014-15 season. The Knights were to be one of three new teams in the NPHL, which is now down to seven teams.
Northern States Hockey League: The junior-level NSHL, which recently broke away from the Amateur Athletic Union to play as an independent league, has lost its Maine Timberwolves team for the 2014-15 season. Last season's Maine Moose team was supposed to come under new ownership as the Timberwolves, but a proposed buyer failed to complete the purchase. The New England-based NSHL has apparently reached out to the Tier-II junior-level North American Hockey League about operating the NSHL as part of the NAHL's Tier-III NA3HL and establishing an NA3HL presence in New England.
Major League Soccer: The two MLS expansion teams called the Orlando City FC and New York City FC have begun drafting players for their starts in the 2015 season.
Western Indoor Soccer Leagues: The WSA (Whatcom Soccer Academy) Rapids of the new elite-level WISL have merged with the outdoor Bellingham United FC, which is also based in Whatcom County and played in the inaugural 2014 season of the Evergreen Premier League. The WSA Rapids will change to the Bellingham United FC name for its inaugural WISL season. The WSA Rapids played the past seven indoor seasons (2007-13) as part of the Premier Arena Soccer League. The Bellingham United FC, which also goes by the nickname of the Hammers, will now have year-round soccer with the EPL and WISL.
Premier Arena Soccer League: A team called the Seattle Sporting FC, based in Snohomish (WA), announced plans to be part of the 2014-15 season of the PASL, which will serve as the semi-pro developmental indoor soccer league to the Major Arena Soccer League.
Continental Indoor Lacrosse League: The semi-pro CILL completed its fourth season with only seven participating teams. The league originally announced nine teams for the 2015 season, but the Colorado Sabertooths (Denver) and Columbus (OH) Brew did not participate in the season. The CILL operated as the Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association for its first two seasons of 2011 and 2012.
American Ultimate Disc League: The AUDL, a professional ultimate disc (Frisbee) league, announced it has added another new franchise called the Ottawa Outlaws (Ontario, Canada) for the 2015 season. Owners of the leagues three other Canadian AUDL teams in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal will have ownership stakes in the new Ottawa team. The league operated with 17 teams across the United States and Canada in 2014 and other previously announced new teams called the Jacksonville Cannons and Nashville NightWatch could start play in 2015 with Ottawa.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2013-14: "The Leagueology Almanac" , 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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