Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
October 19, 2015 - American Indoor Football (AIF)
American Association: The Joplin (MO) Blasters team in the independent AA has asked the city to restructure its stadium lease based on a lower than expected average paid attendance during the team's first season in the league. The owner of the Blasters operated the El Paso Diablos team in the AA through the 2013 season. The team sat out the 2014 season with the arrival of the El Paso Chihuahuas in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and the owner moved the team to Joplin for the 2015 season.
Arizona Fall League: The six-team AzFL, which is owned and operated by Major League Baseball, started its 2015 season that will run from October 13 to November 21, 2015. All teams are based in and around the Phoenix area and each team has prospects from five different MLB teams. The East Division features the Mesa Solar Sox, Salt River Rafters and Scottsdale Scorpions, while the West Division includes the Glendale Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas and Surprise Saguaros. Teams are based at various spring training complexes in the area.
Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League announced a name-the-team contest for a team that will play in New Britain (CT) next season. It has yet to be determined if the New Britain team will be an expansion team or a relocated current team. The New Britain market became available because the affiliated New Britain Rock Cats of the Double-A Eastern League are moving to Hartford (CT) next season. The new Atlantic League team name is expected to be announced by the end of the month.
Northwoods League: The summer collegiate Northwoods League officially announced it will have a new team playing in Rockford (IL) for the 2016 season. The team will replace the city's independent professional baseball team called the Rockford Aviators from the Frontier League. The owner of the Rockford Aviators is reported to be looking at a new market for the 2016 Frontier League season. The Northwoods League stated the new Rockford team will be added to the South Division with the league's La Crosse Loggers team moving from the North to the South and replacing the departed Alexandria (MN) Blue Anchors team in that division.
National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada announced the new team to be based in Sydney (Nova Scotia) will not play in the 2015-16 season as planned. The team ownership was unable to come up with enough funding to handle operating costs to make it through the season. The Sydney team is still part of the league and the ownership hopes to have the team start play next season. A name-the-team contest ended this week and the team's name will be announced in a couple of weeks. With the loss of Sydney for the 2015-16 season, the NBL-Canada is back to eight teams - four in an Atlantic Division and four in a Central Division.
Women's Basketball Association: The WNBA announced the name of the league's Dallas-Fort Worth team will be announced on November 2, 2015. This past summer, the league approved the relocation of the Tulsa Shock team to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The team will play at the College Park Center on the campus of the University of Texas-Arlington for the 2016 season.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team called the Sacramento Knightcats will start play next season. The ABA had a team called the Sacramento Heatwave off and on from 2006 to 2013 until the team moved to Madera (CA) as the California HeatWave.
American Indoor Football: The AIF announced the York (PA) Capitals team has moved to Harrisburg (PA) for the 2016 season and it has been renamed the Central PA Capitals. The York Capitals joined the AIF as a 2013 expansion team. The AIF had a previous team called the Harrisburg Stampede for two seasons (2012-13). The Stampede moved to the Professional Indoor Football League for the 2014 season and then folded. The St. Louis Attack indoor football team, which played the past two seasons (2014-15) as part of X-League Indoor Football, has come under new ownership and will be part of the AIF for the 2016 season. The St. Louis Attack has been added to the AIF's new Mid Western Division.
Indoor Football League: The Spokane (WA) Shock indoor football team, which left the Arena Football League after the 2015 season to join the IFL, was in discussions with the AFL to allow the team to keep its name. The AFL recently announced it owned the rights to the Spokane Shock name and said it had plans to eventually return to the State of Washington in the future.
Arena Football League: The AFL held its dispersal draft, also known as the Offseason Assignment Process, for the Las Vegas Outlaws, New Orleans Voodoo and Spokane Shock teams that left the league after the 2015 season. The league currently lists nine teams.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF announced its 2016 schedule that will feature 12 teams each playing a 12-game schedule from late February to early June 2016. The league operated with nine teams last season, but added new teams called the Bloomington (IL) Edge, Illiana Eagles (Chicago), Mesquite (TX) Marshals and Salina (KS) Liberty. The new Salina Liberty replaces last season's Salina Bombers team, which was suspended by the CIF near the end of the 2015 season for failure to meet league obligations. The league will be aligned into six-team Northern and Southern divisions.
ECHL: The ECHL started its 2015-16 season this week and remained at 28 teams. The league lost three California-based markets (Bakersfield, Ontario and Stockton) to the American Hockey League after the 2014-15 season. The AHL markets whose teams relocated to California all received ECHL franchises - the Adirondack Thunder (Glens Falls, NY) was the ECHL's Stockton Thunder, the Manchester Monarchs were the Ontario Reign and the Norfolk Admirals were the Bakersfield Condors. Also, the ECHL's Greenville (SC) Road Warriors were renamed the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and the Gwinnett Gladiators were renamed the Atlanta Gladiators for the 2015-16 season.
Southern Professional Hockey League: A local ownership group in Biloxi (MS) has applied to the SPHL for a franchise to start playing in the 2016-17 season. The Biloxi-based Mississippi Surge played five seasons (2009-13) in the league before folding. The city also had an ECHL team called the Mississippi Sea Wolves that started play in 1996 and ceased operations after the 2008-09 season.
United Soccer League: The president of the Division-III USL stated that the league has applied to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) for Division-II status starting with the 2017 season. All 20 teams in the Division-I Major League Soccer (MLS) either own or have an affiliation with a USL team that serves as a developmental team for the MLS club. The 11-team North American Soccer League is the only Division-II league currently approved by the USSF. The Orlando City SC Lions of MLS announced its new USL franchise called Orlando City B, or OCB, will start play next season at Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne (FL). The Orlando City SC Lions were a team in the USL for four seasons (2011-14), but ownership was awarded an MLS franchise that started its inaugural season this year. The USL's Louisville FC served as the Orlando City SC Lions' affiliate for the 2015 season.
Major League Soccer: The city of St. Paul (MN) is serious about becoming home to Minnesota's previously announced MLS expansion team and is currently working on a formal lease agreement for a soccer stadium site. Minneapolis officials are still working on a competing soccer stadium plan for the MLS team to play at a downtown Minneapolis location. A stadium for a previously announced Miami-based MLS franchise is also moving forward, as Miami-Dade County plans to establish a redevelopment agency to acquire land for a proposed stadium next to Marlins Park, home of Major League Baseball's Miami Marlins.
North American Soccer League: The city of Hartford has halted construction and has withdrawn a proposed lease with an ownership group that was to build a new 15,000-seat soccer stadium for an NASL team called Hartford City FC. There have been some questions about financial troubles involving the ownership group, which also planned to start up an indoor soccer team in the 2015-16 Major Arena Soccer League (MASL). It is uncertain if the MASL team will start play as planned this season.
National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level NPSL announced two new South Region teams called the Little Rock Rangers and the Shreveport Rafters FC have joined as expansion teams for the 2016 season. After playing two seasons in the league, the Cincinnati Saints announced the team will not return to the NPSL for the 2016 season.
Western Indoor Soccer League: The men's elite-amateur WISL, which has all teams based in the State of Washington, announced the Wenatchee Fire has withdrawn from the league's upcoming second season in 2015-16. A team called Sporting Everett FC, which operated as the Everett-based Seattle Sporting FC in the 2015-16 Premier Arena Soccer League, has now joined as the seventh WISL for the 2015-16 season.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2014-15: "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.
• Discuss this story on the American Indoor Football message board...
American Indoor Football Stories from October 19, 2015
- Talent Found at Steelhawks Open Tryout - Lehigh Valley Steelhawks
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.