Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
November 30, 2015 - National Basketball League of Canada (NBL Canada)
United Shore Professional Baseball League: The proposed new independent USPBL announced the three teams that will participate in the league's inaugural 2016 season are the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, Eastside Diamond Hoppers and Utica Unicorns. Each team will play a 50-game schedule from May to September with all games played at a new ballpark under construction in Utica (MI). The league organizer stated that based on the results in Utica, additional teams and three to five stadiums could be added in other Midwest states in the future.
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League plans to grow to ten teams for the 2016 season with the addition of two new teams called the Salina (KS) Stockade and the Tucson (AZ) Saguaros. Another previously announced new team called the Woodward (OK) Westerners is no longer listed as a 2016 team.
North Country Baseball League: The four-team independent NCBL, which was created for the 2015 season when the proposed East Coast Baseball League failed to get off the ground, has ceased operations. The owner of the Watertown (NY) Bucks team bankrolled the NCBL with other teams called the Newburgh (NY) Newts, Old Orchard Beach (ME) Surge and a Watertown-based travel-only team called the Road City Warriors. Shortly after the start of the season, the Newburgh Newts lost its ballpark lease and became a second travel team known as the New York Newts, also based out of Watertown. The NCBL operator was unable to find new markets to host teams for the 2016 season and decided to fold the league. An investment group was reported to have purchased the Old Orchard Beach Surge team with plans to play in that market, but it is not clear in which league the team will play.
New England Collegiate Baseball League: The new NECBL team to be based in Hartford (VT) will be called the Upper Valley Nighthawks when it starts play in the 2016 season.
National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada announced its ninth team to be based in Sydney (Nova Scotia) will be called the Cape Breton Highlanders when the team starts play for the 2016-17 season. The league will have two current teams play an exhibition game in Sydney next month. prior to the 2015-16 season. The NBL-Canada will start 2015-16 with a four-team Atlantic Division and a four-team Central Division. The Cape Breton Highlanders are expected to be added to the Atlantic Division.
National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The previously announced NBA D-League team to be run by the NBA's Chicago Bulls is considering nicknames for the new team that will start play in the 2016-17 season. A deadline passed this week to nominate team names and a second phase is planned for next month when the public will be allowed to vote on a nickname from a list of finalists. Every nickname suggested for the new team had to end with "Bulls".
Indoor Football League: The IFL has terminated the membership of the Minnesota Axemen (Bemidji), which operated as the Bemidji Axemen that past two seasons before announcing a name change a couple of months ago. The Axemen team had financial issues during its two seasons in the league and apparently was unable to meet league standards for the 2016 season. The IFL originally announced two three-team divisions in each of its conferences for the 2016, but with the loss of the Axemen the league will have a five-team United Conference and a six-team Intense Conference with no divisions.
Ladies Indoor Football League: The former head of the outdoor Women's Spring Football League has been trying to organize the new LIFL as an alternative to the women's Legends Football League, formerly the Lingerie Football League. The LIFL plans to start play in the fall of 2016 with four teams called the Chicago Assault, Iowa Heartbreakers (Council Bluffs, IA), Minneapolis Storm and Milwaukee Ice, which evolved from the Green Bay Chill team in the LFL. The LIFL will also launch a developmental league called the Ladies American Football League (LAFL) that will serve as the springtime recruiting league for the LIFL. The LAFL currently has three teams called the Arkansas Falcons, Music City Misfits and Cape Fear Thunder (Fayetteville, NC), which was part of the 2015 Women's Eights Football League.
Women's Football Alliance: The WFA, which is considered the top-level of the three current women's outdoor football leagues, lists the following 2016 expansion teams: Colorado Voodoo, Alabama Fire (Birmingham), Philadelphia Phantomz, Flint City Riveters, Richmond Black Widows, East Texas Lady Crusaders (Longview), Fayetteville Fierce, Memphis Stars and Port City Jaguars (Shreveport). The Keystone Assault (Harrisburg) played four seasons (2009-12) in the WFA and plans to return in 2016 after winning the Women's Spring Football League championship in 2015. The league's Portland (OR) Fighting Fillies and Portland Shockwave teams announced a merger to form the Portland Fighting Shockwave. The WFA also plans to initiate a second league championship for smaller market teams in 2016.
Independent Women's Football League: The IWFL, which is considered to be the number two women's outdoor football league, is adding 2016 expansion teams called the Bakersfield (CA) Bombers, Woodlands Wildcats (The Woodlands/Houston), Granite Gray Wolves (Manchester, NH) and Maine Mayhem (Portland). The Tulsa Threat is moving to the IWFL after five seasons in the Women's Football Alliance. The New York Knockout (Schenectady) is returning to the IWFL after playing the 2015 season in the Women's Eights Football League.
United States Women's Football League: The Women's Spring Football League (WSFL), which started play back in 2010 and is considered the third level of outdoor women's football leagues, has been re-branded as the USWFL for the 2016 season. The league says it will focus on teams in smaller markets. The WSFL had an associated eight-player league called the Women's Eights Football League (W8FL) that played with four teams in 2015, but it is not clear if that league will also be re-branded. Two W8FL teams from last season, the New York Knockout (Schenectady) and the Cape Fear Thunder (Fayetteville, NC) are not expected to return to the W8FL in 2016.
ECHL: The ECHL extended the deadline from December 1 to December 15 for the Evansville IceMen to work out an arena lease with the city for the 2016-17 season. Team ownership was not satisfied with its arena lease and warned that the team could leave Evansville unless a new lease is signed at a lower cost.
Major League Soccer: The city of Sacramento released the terms for the construction of a 25,000-seat soccer stadium, if an MLS team is awarded to the Sacramento Republic FC of the United Soccer League. A proposed stadium site next to Marlins Park for the Miami MLS franchise has apparently fallen through.
National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level NPSL announced two more expansion teams called the Albion SC Pros (San Diego) and the Kingston (NY) Stockade FC, based in New York's Hudson Valley, have been added for the 2016 season. Albion SC will be added to the West Region's Southwest Conference, while Kingston will be part of the Northeast Region of teams.
Western Indoor Soccer League: The amateur-level WISL, which has all teams located in the state of Washington, started its second season last weekend with seven teams. The league operated with five teams last season, but the Arlington Aviators and Wenatchee Fire did not return and the league added four new teams called the Olympic Force (Bremerton), Snohomish Skyhawks, Sporting Everett FC and Vancouver Victory. Each team plays ten games through mid-February 2016.
Major League Lacrosse: The outdoor field lacrosse MLL announced its 2016 schedule that will feature nine teams with the addition of the Atlanta Blaze expansion team. All eight teams will return from last season and the nine teams will be aligned in one table for the standings. The MLL season will run from late April to early August 2016. The Atlanta Blaze, which will play home games at Kennesaw State University, recently participated in an expansion draft to stock the new team.
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 National Basketball League of Canada message board...
National Basketball League of Canada Stories from November 30, 2015
- Miracles Take Four in 2015 NBLC Draft - Moncton Miracles
- Special Fan Announcement at Forest Hills School December 1 - Saint John Riptide
- 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.