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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 2, 2015 - NBA G League (G League)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League announced its 2016 season schedule that will feature a New Britain (CT) team replacing the Camden Riversharks team that recently ceased operations. A name-the-team contest for the New Britain team was announced over a week ago with Bees, Hammer, Hard Hitters, Hornets and Stingers listed as nickname finalists.

Frontier League: The independent Frontier League announced its 2016 season schedule and league alignment that will feature 12 teams aligned into six-team East and West divisions. The league operated with 14 teams last season, but the Rockford (IL) Aviators dropped out and the Frontier Greys travel team will not be operated in 2016. The Rockford team had been part of the league since the 2011 season when it joined as the Rockford RiverHawks before becoming the Aviators for the 2013 season. The Frontier Greys travel team had been part of the league for the past three seasons (2013-15) and was used to give the league an even number of teams.

Pecos League: The Las Vegas (NM) Train Robbers team in the independent Pecos League is expected to move from New Mexico to Kansas and become the Topeka Train Robbers for the 2016 season. The Las Vegas Train Robbers have been part of the league since the 2013 season. With teams in Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado, the Pecos League is expected to add its first Oklahoma-based team called the Woodward Westerners for the 2016 season.

Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League: The Geneva (NY) Red Wings team will join the summer-collegiate PGCBL from the New York Collegiate League (NYCL) for the 2016 season.

New England Collegiate Baseball League: The summer-collegiate NECBL will add a team in Hartford (VT) on the New Hampshire border for the 2016 season.

Ohio Valley Summer Collegiate Baseball League: The OVL will add a team called the Paducah (KY) Chiefs for the 2016 season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association have acquired the rights to own and operate an NBA D-League team in Greensboro (NC) starting with the 2016-17 season. The Greensboro team will be the D-League's 20th team and the 11th D-League team to be fully owned and operated by an NBA team. The remaining nine D-League teams each have a single affiliation with an NBA team and the long-range goal is eventually to have a D-League team for each of the 30 NBA teams. Greensboro, Asheville (NC) and Fayetteville (NC) were finalists for the Hornets' D-League team after other cities like Raleigh (NC), Columbia (SC), Greenville (SC) and Charleston (SC) were dropped from consideration. The D-League will start its 2015-16 season later this month with 19 teams.

AmeriLeague: The future of the proposed Las Vegas-based AmeriLeague is uncertain as questions have been raised about the league's organizer and a proposed six-team player draft never took place as planned. The league was supposed to start its inaugural season later this month.

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto: Mexico's top professional LNBP started its 2015-16 season last week with 11 teams aligned in one table. The league operated with 14 teams last season, but lost 5 teams and added two new teams called the Santos de San Luis Potosi and Indios de Ciudad Juarez.

Elite Basketball League: The new semi-pro EBL started its inaugural 2015-16 season last week and its standings list 11 teams located in Arkansas and Texas. The league plans to expand nationwide.

FOOTBALL

Arena Football League: The AFL, which is down to 9 teams from the 12 teams in the 2015 season, announced the 2016 conference alignment will feature a five-team American Conference and a four-team National Conference with no regional divisions within the conferences. The Las Vegas Outlaws and New Orleans Voodoo teams were shut down at the end of the 2015 season, while the owner of the Spokane Shock decided to move to the Indoor Football League for 2016. The American Conference will have the five eastern teams called the Cleveland Gladiators, Jacksonville Sharks, Orlando Predators, Philadelphia Soul and Tampa Bay Storm, while the National Conference will consist of the four western teams called the Arizona Rattlers, Los Angeles KISS, Portland Thunder and San Jose SabreCats.

American Indoor Football: The new AIF team to be based in Muskegon (MI) for the 2016 season will use West Michigan in its name and the team announced four potential nicknames: Breakers, Marauders, Melee and River Rats. A previous team called the Muskegon Thunder played two seasons (2007-08) as part of the Continental Indoor Football League and one season (2009) in the Indoor Football League.

HOCKEY

ECHL: Although a formal application has not yet been filed, at least one potential ownership group is trying to bring an AA-level ECHL team to Worcester (MA), which lost its AAA-level American Hockey League team called the Worcester Sharks to San Jose after the 2014-15 season. A proposed Worcester ECHL team would most likely benefit from an affiliation with the nearby Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League. The ECHL has 28 teams and would like to grow to 30 teams like the NHL and AHL and have each team affiliated with an NHL team.

National Ringette League: The Canadian women's NRL started its 2015-16 season early last month with 15 teams. A team called the Edmonton Black Gold Rush was added as a fourth team in the Western Conference. The Eastern Conference has a Red Division with six Ontario-based teams and a White Division with five Quebec-based teams. The season runs from early October 2015 to early April 2016. Ringette is a team sport similar to ice hockey in equipment and playing surface. Players use straight sticks to control and pass a rubber ring. The game is centered more around skating and passing rather than puck handling and involves catching or "stabbing" the ring. It is played primarily by women in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and France.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer announced its new developmental team that will start play in the 2016 USL will be called the Bethlehem Steel FC. The name is derived from the Bethlehem Steel Football Club, which was a popular team operated by the Bethlehem Steel corporation in the early part of the 20th century. The new USL team will play home games at Lehigh University in Bethlehem (PA).

Major Arena Soccer League: The indoor MASL started its 2015-16 season last weekend, but recently lost a team and is down to 20 teams for the season. Due to controversy surrounding the ownership of the Hartford City FC, the MASL has decided to drop the proposed expansion team for the 2015-16 season. The Hartford City FC ownership was involved in trying to build a new outdoor stadium for a team by the same name that was to start play in the 2017 season of the North American Soccer League. An investigation was started into the stadium financing and debts of certain individuals involved with the ownership group. A new group of local investors appeared ready to move forward with an MASL team in Hartford this season, but the league wanted the group to wait until the 2016-17 season. The MASL operated with 23 teams last season, but lost the Rochester Lancers, Tulsa Revolution, Wichita B-52s, Hidalgo La Fiera FC, Monterrey Flash (Mexico) and Oxford City FC of Texas (Beaumont) and gained new teams called the Cedar Rapids (IA) Rampage, Atletico Baja (Tijuana, Mexico) and Soles de Sonora (Mexico).

North American Soccer League: The new Division-II NASL team called Miami FC will start play in the league's 2016 Spring Season and will play games at Florida International University in Miami. This will be the fourth Florida-based NASL team to go with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Jacksonville Armada. A Miami expansion group in Division-I Major League Soccer is trying to finalize a location to build a new soccer-specific stadium.

Western Indoor Soccer League: The elite-level WISL, which has all teams based in the State of Washington, recently announced its 2015-16 schedule that will feature seven teams. The league operated with five teams for its inaugural 2014-15 season, but lost two teams and added four new teams. Each team will play ten games from mid-November 2015 to mid-February 2016.

OTHER

American Ultimate Disc League: The Rochester (NY) Dragons team in the professional AUDL has folded after four seasons in the league. The team started as the Buffalo Hunters in the AUDL's inaugural 2012 season, but moved to Rochester as the Dragons for 2013. The league is looking to replace Rochester with a team in Boston, possibly as early as the 2016 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.


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