Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
February 1, 2016 - ECHL (ECHL)
American Association: The owner of The Rock Sports Complex in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin is seeking approval, zoning and city financing for a new development near the complex that will include a 4,500-seat stadium for a proposed American Association team. The stadium would also be home to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team and a possible soccer team in the Premier Development League. A previous plan for the area was voted down in 2014.
California League: The High Desert Mavericks of the high Class-A California League are seeking mediation in an effort to settle a lease dispute with the city of Adelanto, which earlier this month terminated the team's agreement to play at the city-owned stadium. Ownership has stated it expects the team to play at the stadium in 2016.
South Atlantic League: The new Columbia (SC) Fireflies team in the low Class-A SAL recently unveiled its uniform designs as it prepares for its first season in the city. The Fireflies are the relocated Savannah Sand Gnats team that moved after the 2015 season to a new downtown stadium built for the team in Columbia.
Midwest Collegiate League: The summer-collegiate MCL announced a new team called the Bloomington (IL) Bobcats will be replacing the league's Lexington Snipes team for the 2016 season. The new MCL team is taking its name from a former Bloomington Bobcats summer-collegiate team. Another summer-collegiate team in the Bloomington-Normal area called the Twin City Stars last played in the 2006 season.
Desert League: Plans are moving forward on the fall-season independent Desert League, which plans to start in 2016 with at least four teams based in southern Arizona and California. As of now, teams will be in San Luis (AZ), Yuma (AZ) and Imperial County (CA) along with a Yuma-based travel team. Each team will play a 48-game schedule starting on September 22 and ending prior to Thanksgiving.
Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA announced the schedule for its 20th season that will again feature 12 teams aligned into six-team Eastern and Western conferences. The only team change was in the Western Conference as the Tulsa Shock moved to Arlington (TX) to become the Dallas Wings for the 2016 season. The Shock had joined the WNBA as a 1998 expansion team called the Detroit Shock and then moved to Tulsa for the 2010 season. The 2016 season will run from May 14 to September 18, 2016 and will include a four-week break for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Central Basketball Development League: The CBDL announced the Music City Kings as a second Nashville-based team for the upcoming 2016 season, as the league added the Tennessee Sting earlier this month. The CBDL states it now has 11 teams throughout the states of Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, Mississippi and Georgia.
Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): Mexico's Pacific Coast Basketball League known as the CIBACOPA, which is the country's second professional basketball league next to the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP), announced a new team called the Halcones (Hawks) de Ciudad Obregon in the state of Sonora will be part of the upcoming 2016 season. The league had a previous team called the Trigueros de Ciudad Obregon that last played in the 2013 season. The 2016 CIBACOPA season starts in mid-March.
National Football League: The San Diego Chargers announced the team will remain in San Diego for the 2016 season. The Chargers will wait to see if San Diego will move forward on a new stadium for the team before making a final decision to move to a proposed new stadium in Inglewood that will be shared with the Los Angeles Rams. The Chargers have until January 2017 to decide on a move to Los Angeles. The Oakland Raiders have been unable to work out a new stadium deal in Oakland and have expressed interest in a possible move to San Diego if the Chargers move out. If the Chargers decide to remain in San Diego, the Raiders would have the option to move to the Inglewood stadium. The Chargers acknowledged a recent purchase of land in the Los Angeles area that would be used for the team's headquarters and training facility. Also, the owner of a Las Vegas casino has proposed construction of a new domed 65,000-seat football stadium on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to try to lure the Oakland Raiders to the city.
Indoor Football League: The IFL announced it has terminated the Minnesota Havok franchise, which was a 2016 expansion franchise to be based in Mankato about 80 miles southwest of Minneapolis, for failing to meet league operational standards. With the removal of the Havok from the United Conference, the IFL moved the Wichita Falls (TX) Nighthawks from the Intense Conference to the United Conference to create two five-team conferences for 2016. The IFL originally announced a 12-team alignment for 2016, but has since lost the Minnesota Axemen (Bemidji) and now the Minnesota Havok.
Major League Football: The proposed springtime professional MLFB held its initial player draft this week for eight teams that will start play in April 2016. The league has trademarked several team names, but has yet to officially announce the inaugural season markets and team names. Some of the registered names for possible teams include the Arkansas Attack (Little Rock), Alabama Airborne (Birmingham), Florida Fusion (Orlando), Northwest Empire (Euguene, OR), Ohio Union (Akron), Oklahoma Nation (Oklahoma City), Texas Independence (San Antonio) and Utah Stand (Salt Lake City). All MLFB teams will be owned and operated by the league, which hopes to expand to 12 teams for the 2017 season.
ECHL: The potential owner of an AA-level ECHL franchise to be based in Worcester (MA) will present a signed a five-year lease agreement to the league next week in hopes of starting an ECHL team in the 2017-18 season. A Worcester-based team hopes to become a natural rival for the league's Manchester (NH) Monarchs team, which is currently the league's only team in New England. The Worcester Sharks and Manchester Monarchs had been members of the AAA-level American Hockey League until both teams moved to California prior to this season. Manchester was able to obtain a new Manchester Monarchs team in the lower-level ECHL starting with the 2015-16 season. The ownership of the ECHL's Brampton (Ontario) Beast is struggling financially and has asked the city to purchase its home arena (Powerade Centre) and eliminate an annual rent charge that would help cover projected losses for this season. The Brampton Beast joined the ECHL last season after one season in the former Central Hockey League.
Federal Hockey League: The lower-level professional FHL announced new ownership for its Dayton Demolition franchise, so the team will be able to continue operating the rest of the 2015-16 season. The FHL had been operating the Demolition since it terminated the team's previous ownership earlier this month.
Heritage Junior Hockey League: The Medicine Hat Cubs (Albert, Canada), a member of the Junior-B HJHL since 2001, announced the team would not be able to complete the remainder of the 2015-16 season due to a lack of players. If the league approves, the team would like to reorganize and return next season.
United States Hockey League: A potential ownership group has secured the rights to bring a Tier-I junior-level USHL team to Kansas City. The 17-team USHL is the highest level of the junior hockey leagues under the USA Hockey structure.
American Soccer League: The professional ASL has posted its 2016 Spring Season schedule that will run from late March to late June. After playing an inaugural two-part 2014-15 Fall-Spring schedule, the ASL was idle during the fall of 2015 off and switched to a two-part Spring-Fall schedule for 2016. Of the seven teams that competed in the 2015 Spring Season, the AC Crusaders (Atlantic City, NJ), Evergreen Diplomats (Hyattsville, MD) and Western Mass Pros (Springfield) did not return. The returning Icon FC Blues (Passaic, NJ), Mass United FC (Lynn/Boston), Philadelphia Fury and Rhode Island Oceaneers (Cranston) will be joined by six new teams called the Connecticut FC (Hamden), Delaware Copperheads (Wilmington), IFK Maryland (Baltimore), Lancaster (PA) Lions, Long Island Express and New Hampshire Bobcats.
United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The PDL has announced three additional new teams for the 2016 season: the FC Golden State Force (Pasadena, CA), Tri-Cities FC Otters (Johnson City, TN) and the South Florida Surf (Port St. Lucie).
Women's Premier Soccer League: The Boston Breakers of the professional National Women's Soccer League announced they will add an Under-20 WPSL team in 2016. The Breakers have operated two other WPSL teams called the Boston Breakers Reserves and Boston Breakers College Academy in the past two seasons. The Under-20 team will add to the Breakers development pyramid.
Major Series Lacrosse: The Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks of the Ontario-based indoor Senior-A MSL are moving east to become the Cobourg Kodiaks for the 2016 MSL summertime season. The Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks joined the MSL for the 2006 season after purchasing the league's St. Catharines Athletics franchise.
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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