Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
April 4, 2016 - ECHL (ECHL)
Eastern League: The Binghamton Mets (B-Mets) of the Double-A Eastern League announced the schedule for renaming the team. Fans will be able to submit team name suggestions from April 7 to April 21, 2016. The top five names will be selected and put up for vote in the first two weeks of May. The new team name will be announced after the season in October 2016. After speculation the B-Mets would be relocating, new ownership recently took over the team and has committed to keeping the team in Binghamton. The league's Erie SeaWolves were also mentioned as a potential relocation candidate, but that team's new owner has also committed to keeping the team in Erie.
Pacific Coast League: The owner of the San Antonio Missions of the Double-A Texas League is expected to announce plans to bring a Triple-A PCL team to a proposed new downtown stadium in San Antonio. The owner of the San Antonio Missions also owns the PCL's Colorado Springs SkySox, but any relocation of a PCL team would have to be approved by Minor League Baseball. The PCL does not expect the SkySox or any other PCL team to relocate for at least two to three years. If a Triple-A team comes to San Antonio, the current Double-A San Antonio Missions team is expected to move to Amarillo.
Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: The Triple-A LMB, or Mexican Baseball League, started its 2016 season this week with the same 16 teams aligned into an eight-team Zona Norte (North Division) and an eight-team Zona Sur (South Division). The LMB season runs through the month of July.
New Era Basketball Association: The reorganized NEBA has moved its headquarters from Texas to Michigan and recently announced eight teams will participate in a player draft on April 15, 2016. As of early March 2016, the NEBA reported that teams will include the Carolina Prestige (Raleigh), Detroit Coast II Coast, Hub City Cyclones (Jackson, TN), Kalamazoo Pure, Memphis Lions, Portland Reign, San Antonio Kings and the Vehicle City Royals (Flint, MI). The NEBA played a short six-team winter season from November 2015 to January 2016 and planned to have 20 teams in a nationwide spring season before coming under new control. Hub City, Memphis and San Antonio were three of the six teams in the 2015-16 NEBA winter season. The Kalamazoo Pure was part of the 2015-16 American Basketball Association and a recent report stated the owner dissolved the team prior to the ABA playoffs.
Rivals Professional Football League: The RPFL, which claims to be a developmental league for players trying to get noticed by the National Football League, Canadian Football League or Arena Football League, held its player draft this week for the same four Michigan-based teams from last season. The Detroit Cougars, Macomb County Bearcats, Oakland County Racers and Pontiac Generals participated in a 2015 season that ran from mid-June to early August. The RPFL also played a short inaugural season in 2014.
Arena Football League: The AFL started its 2016 season this weekend and its membership was down from 12 to 8 teams aligned into four-team National and American conferences. Gone from last season are the Las Vegas Outlaws, New Orleans Voodoo, San Jose SaberCats and the Spokane Shock, whose ownership moved the team to the Indoor Football League where it was renamed the Spokane Empire. The Portland Thunder franchise was taken over by the league earlier this year and it was renamed the Portland Steel. The league is looking for new ownership of the Portland franchise. The AFL is planning future expansion and recently announced a new Washington (DC) team will join for the 2017 season.
Major League Football: The proposed springtime professional MLF, which planned to start play this year with eight teams, officially cancelled its 2016 season and stated the league would try again in 2017. The MLF was dealt a major setback in February when an investment group failed to deliver on promised league funding. The MLF said it will sponsor a 2016 "Development Season" in which the league will not play games, but will use the time for developing players, planning the staffs and obtaining sponsors for a re-launch in 2017.
North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior level NAHL announced a team called the Northeast Generals, based in the Boston suburb of North Attleboro, will join the league's East Division for the 2016-17 season. The NAHL East Division will increase to five teams with the return of the four teams from the 2015-16 season. The Northeast Generals had a lower-level 2015-16 team in the NAHL's Tier-III North American 3 Eastern Hockey League (NA3EHL) and that team will also return in 2016-17.
ECHL: The ECHL announced its Worcester (MA) expansion team will be called the Worcester Railers HC. The name is taken from the city's association with the railroad industry. Wildcats, Whitehawks and Canal Diggers were other names considered by team ownership. The Worcester Railers will start play in the 2017-18 season. The city's most recent pro team was the Worcester Sharks in the American Hockey League, but that team moved to San Jose after the 2014-15 season to become the Barracuda.
North American Soccer League: The Division-II NASL officially announced the San Francisco Deltas as its newest member and the league's first team based on the West Coast. The Deltas are planning to start play in the 2017 season. The NASL started its 2016 Spring Season this weekend and it again features 11 teams aligned in one table. The Atlanta Silverbacks and San Antonio Scorpions did not return from last season, but the league added expansion teams called Miami FC and Rayo OKC (Oklahoma City) for the Spring Season. The NASL will grow to 12 teams for the 2016 Fall Season with the addition of the Puerto Rico FC expansion team.
Premier Ligue de Soccer du Quebec (PLSQ): The semi-pro PLSQ, or Quebec Premiere Soccer League, will again operate with seven teams for its upcoming fifth season in 2016. Teams will include the returning AS Blainville, Longueuil CS, CS Mount Royal Outremont, Gatineau FC, Lakeshore SC, Ottawa Fury FC Academy and the new FC Lanaudière, which was the former L'Assomption de Lanaudière team taken over by the Regional Soccer Association Lanaudière. All teams except Gatineau and Ottawa are based in the Montreal area. A team called the Celtix de Haut-Richelieu was trying to join the PLSQ for 2017.
League1 Ontario: The men's division of the semi-pro Ontario-based League1 plans to grow to 16 teams aligned into eight-team conferences for its third season in 2016. Of the 12 teams from last season, the ANB Futbol will not return, but the league added five new teams called North Toronto Nitros, Toronto Skillz FC, Aurora United FC, FC London and the North Mississauga Panthers. The League1 women's division will return for a second season in 2016 with nine teams.. Of the seven teams from last season, ANC Futbol and Pro Stars SC will not return, but four new teams called Aurora United FC, Darby FC, FC London and the Kingston Clippers will join for 2016.
Canadian Soccer League: The London City soccer club, a longtime member of the Ontario-based CSL, has relocated to Hamilton where the team will be called Hamilton City FC for the 2016 season. Most recently, Hamilton had CSL teams called the FC Hamilton Croatia for one season (2010) and the Hamilton Thunder for four seasons (2002-05). A new CSL team called the FC Ukraine United is expected to be added for the 2016 season and replace the departing Niagara United.
Major League Soccer: A group in San Diego is looking to use the current site of Qualcomm Stadium, which is expected to be vacated by the National Football League's San Diego Chargers in the near future, to build a new stadium that would become home to San Diego State University's football team and a proposed MLS franchise. The San Diego Chargers plan to leave Qualcomm Stadium in favor of a proposed new downtown stadium that still has to go before voters, or move to Inglewood and be part of a new stadium with the Los Angeles Rams.
Arena Lacrosse League: The proposed new ALL has pushed back its start to either 2017 or 2018. The ALL plans to be an elite-level summertime indoor lacrosse league offering another option for the development of players in the United States. The ALL was targeting 3,000- to 7,000-seat arenas in non-traditional markets. The original plan was for an inaugural 2016 season to run from late May to early September. In advance of a 2016 start, a proposed 2015 Showcase Tour for markets like Reading, Stockton, Washington, Southern California and Wilkes-Barre was announced, but was then cancelled.
Continental Indoor Lacrosse League: A new team called the St. Louis Centurions announced it will be part of the semi-pro CILL for the 2016 season. The league previously announced a St. Louis-based team called the St. Louis Pride for the 2011 season, but that team never started league play. The CILL started play in 2011 as the Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association before changing to the CILL prior to the 2013 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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