Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
April 11, 2016 - NBA G League (G League)
Pacific Coast League: The owner of the Colorado Sky Sox of the Triple-A PCL has committed to bringing a Triple-A team to San Antonio in three years, if a proposed new downtown stadium in San Antonio is built for the team. The Colorado Sky Sox were not specifically mentioned as the team moving to San Antonio. The Sky Sox ownership also owns the Helena (MT) Brewers of the advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League and has indicated the Helena team could be moved to Colorado Springs as a replacement for the Sky Sox. If a Triple-A team comes to San Antonio, the current San Antonio Missions team in the Double-A Texas League is expected to move to Amarillo. The San Antonio stadium still has to be funded and Minor League Baseball would have to approve all of the team relocations. The 16-team PCL started its 2016 season this week with the same teams and alignment as last season.
Texas League: The city of Amarillo is analyzing funding options for a new downtown ballpark that could become home to a Double-A Texas League team, possibly the relocated San Antonio Missions. With a possible Triple-A team coming to San Antonio in the future, Amarillo wants to build a stadium to Double-A standards to attract the Texas League team. If the San Antonio Missions are available for relocation, the city of Wichita has been mentioned as another option. The city lost its Texas League team called the Wichita Wranglers when it became the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Springdale) for the 2008 season.
American Association: The group trying to bring a potential independent American Association team to Franklin (WI) in suburban Milwaukee received conditional zoning approval for a mixed-use project that would include a baseball stadium. The project still needs to meet other conditions along with approval of a fiscal plan to receive city funding.
California League: The High Desert Mavericks of the high Class-A California League won a preliminary injunction against the city of Adelanto, which was trying to evict the team from its ballpark, so the Mavericks will continue to play in Adelanto this season.
National Basketball Association Development League (D-League): The NBA's Utah Jazz announced it will move its Boise-based Idaho Stampede D-League team to Salt Lake City for the 2016-17 season and the team will be renamed the Salt Lake City Stars, or SLC Stars. The Jazz was the single NBA affiliate of the Stampede for the 2014-15 season. The Jazz then owned and operated the Stampede after purchasing the team prior to the 2015-16 season. The new name was derived from two of the area's former basketball teams - the Utah Starzz (1997-2002) of the Women's National Basketball Association and the Utah Stars (1970-76) of the former American Basketball Association. The Idaho Stampede joined the D-League for the 2006-07 season after playing several seasons in the former Continental Basketball Association. The Stampede had a single affiliation with the NBA's Portland Trailblazers for two seasons (2012-14). The D-League had a prior Utah-based team called the Utah Flash, based in nearby Orem, for four seasons (2007-11). The Utah Jazz and other NBA teams shared an affiliation with the Flash during its history.
North American Basketball League: The Gulf Coast Wizards (Gulfport, MS) of the proposed new NABL will not play in the league's inaugural 2016 spring-summer season due to issues with arena availability, but the team hopes to return in 2017. The NABL announced a team called the Tampa Bay Windjammers will replace the Wizards in the six-team Eastern Division that has teams in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. The league also has a six-team Western Division of teams located in Texas and Louisiana.
American Indoor Football: The Austin Colts team, which was announced as part of the league known as North American Indoor Football for the 2016 season, recently announced it was a member of the AIF for the rest of the 2016 season. A proposed game this weekend between the Colts and the AIF's New Mexico Stars was cancelled and the Stars' management was informed the Colts have shut down operations.
Legends Football League: The indoor women's LFL, formerly known as the Lingerie Football League before re-branding in 2013, started its 2016 season this weekend with eight teams aligned into four-team Eastern and Western conferences. Of the six teams from last season, the Las Vegas Sin did not return, but the league added new teams called the Dallas Desire, Austin Acoustic and New England Liberty (Manchester, NH). The New England Liberty joins the returning Atlanta Steam, Chicago Bliss and Omaha Heart in the Eastern Conference, while the Dallas Desire and Austin Acoustic join the returning Los Angeles Temptation and Seattle Mist in the Western Conference. The LFL had a previous team called the Dallas Desire for two seasons (2009-11). The league had a previous New England team called the New England Euphoria that was announced for league's first season in 2009-10, but plans to play at a venue in Providence (RI) fell through and the team never started.
Federal Hockey League: After sitting idle for the 2015-16 FHL season due to renovation of its home arena, the Watertown (NY) Wolves hope to finalize a lease agreement in the coming weeks and return for the 2016-17 season.
North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL officially announced the addition of the Shreveport (LA) Mudbugs team for the 2016-17 season. The city had a minor professional hockey team called the Shreveport Mudbugs/Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in the former Western Professional Hockey League from 1997 to 2001. The following season, the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs became part of the former Central Hockey League as part of a merger with the WPHL and played through the 2010-11 season.
Ontario Hockey League: The owner of the Flint (MI) Firebirds team in the major-junior OHL has been suspended from involvement with the team for five years and the OHL will continue to operate the team as it has since mid-February. The OHL said the owner committed violations that were not in the interest of the players, the team and the league. The Firebirds were in their first season in Flint since ownership purchased the Plymouth (MI) Whalers team and moved it to Flint for the 2015-16 season.
Metropolitan Junior Hockey League: The Tier-III MJHL has been reorganized and will operate as the developmental Tier-III North American 3 Atlantic Hockey League (NA3AHL) under the umbrella of the Tier-II North American Hockey League for the 2016-17 season. The MJHL had 15 teams in the 2015-16 season, but seven teams decided to move to the Eastern Hockey League-Elite Division for next season. Six other MJHL teams will move to the new NA3AHL with another two teams still to be announced.
Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League: The new CPJHL, which was sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union under its United Hockey Union, plans to start play with several Ontario-based teams for the 2016-17 season. The league announced its first four teams will be the Muskoka Wild, Seaforth Generals, Grey Highlands and Coldwater Falcons with more teams to be announced.
National Premier Soccer League: The Carolina RailHawks (Cary, NC) of the North American Soccer League (NASL) have increased the age limit for players, so they changed the name of its developmental NPSL team from the Carolina RailHawks U-23 to the Carolina RailHawks NPSL for the 2016 season. Five other NASL teams will also have developmental/reserve teams in the 2016 NPSL.
United Women's Soccer: The new UWS, which was formed for a 2016 start after the demise of the United Soccer Leagues W-League, will not have the Quebec-based Laval Comets and Quebec Dynamo (Quebec City) as members. The Canadian Soccer Association denied requests from the teams to play in the United States-based UWS. The CSA would rather see the teams become part of the Premier Ligue de Soccer du Quebec (PLSQ), which is a Quebec-based men's semi-pro league that plans to start a women's division in 2017. The Laval Comets joined the W-League for the 2006 season, while Quebec joined as the Quebec City Amiral in 2009 before changing to the Quebec Dynamo for the 2014 season. The Laval and Quebec teams were planned for an eight-team UWS East Division that now will have six teams, along with a five-team West Division, for the inaugural 2016 season.
North American Premier Futsal League: The new NAPFL completed its inaugural 2016 season with seven teams called ABK Premier (Grand Rapids), ABK Elite, Cleveland Extreme Futsal, Detroit Waza Flo, Fort Wayne Phoenix, Lansing City Futsal and Sporting Detroit. The NAPFL season consisted of three weekend events on January 23 (Lansing, MI), February 20 (Fort Wayne) and March 13 (Plymouth, MI). Six of the NAPFL teams went on to participate in the U.S. Adult Futsal National Championship in Grand Rapids on April 2 and 3. The NAPFL plans to become a developmental futsal league to the proposed new Professional Futsal League. The Lansing City, Cleveland Extreme and Waza Flo were also scheduled to participate in the 2016 season of another league called Major League Futsal.
Professional Bowlers Association-League: The eight-team PBA League recently completed its fourth season that was played over one weekend (April 2 and 3) in Portland (ME). All teams participated in quarterfinal matches leading to semi-finals and a championship match with all matches to be telecast over four consecutive Sundays on ESPN from April 17 to May 8. A new Portland Lumberjacks team represented the host bowling center and replaced the league's Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits team for the 2016 season. The other returning teams from last season include the GEICO New York City WTT KingPins, Barbasol Motown Muscle (Detroit), Silver Lake Atom Splitters, Philadelphia Hitmen, L.A. X, Brooklyn Styles and Dallas Strikers.
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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