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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
December 18, 2017 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Florida State League: The Tampa Yankees of the high Class-A FSL have been rebranded as the Tampa Tarpons for the 2018 season. The Tampa Tarpons was the name of a previous FSL team from 1957 through the 1987 season. That team was replaced by the Tampa White Sox in 1988, but lasted only one season before relocating. The Tampa Yankees joined the FSL for the 1994 season.

New York-Penn League: The short-season Class-A NYPL has taken over operations of the Batavia Muckdogs franchise and the team's future is uncertain. The Muckdogs ownership could not work out a deal for a new buyer or operator of the team and gave up control of the team. The Rochester Red Wings of the Triple-A International League had run the Muckdogs' baseball operations for the past ten seasons, but that agreement ended after the 2017 season. The New York Collegiate Baseball League has expressed interest in placing a team in Batavia if the NYPL leaves the market.

American Association: The developer trying to bring an American Association team to Franklin (WI) in the Milwaukee area still needs various approvals for a proposed new ballpark. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2018 with the hope that it will be completed for an opening in the 2019 season.

Southwest League of Professional Baseball: The city of Bellmead (TX) is proposing a vote by residents on a new hotel tax to help fund a ballpark for the Waco BlueCats team in the proposed Southwest League. The league is trying to start play in 2019 with six teams and currently has only one other named team called the Royse City (TX) Griffins.

BASKETBALL

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA's Las Vegas franchise, which is the relocated San Antonio Stars franchise, announced the team will be called the Las Vegas Aces when it starts play in the 2018 season. The San Antonio Stars started as the Utah Starzz in the league's inaugural 1997 season and moved to become the San Antonio Silver Stars for the 2003 season. The Silver Stars changed its name to simply the Stars for the 2014 season. It was reported the Las Vegas WNBA team tried to register the Las Vegas Stars name prior to selection of the Las Vegas Aces.

National Professional Basketball Association: Teams from various leagues like the Midwest Basketball League (MBL), the Independent Basketball Association (IBA) and the American Basketball Association (ABA), along with some new teams, were part of a short, late summer-early fall season in the new NPBA. Some of the participating teams included the Chicago Fury (MBL & ABA), Illinois Hoopville Warriors (IBA), Milwaukee Falcons (IBA), Chicago Wind, Milwaukee Wizards (MBL branding team), Illinois Bulldogs (ABA), Chicago Knights (MBL branding team), Kentucky Warriors, Chicago Legends (MBL branding team), Indiana Revolution (Muncie), Kenosha Ballers (IBA) and Wisconsin Game Changers (MBL branding team based in Appleton).

Midwest Basketball League: The Minnesota Rangers (Bloomington) of the spring-summer semi-pro MBL recently announced the team will change its name to the Minnesota Lakers for the 2018 season.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team called the Omaha Cuttaz has been added for the 2018-19 season. The league states this is its first team in Nebraska, but a team called the Lincoln Thunder started the 2005-06 season and disbanded after playing a few games.

FOOTBALL

National Arena League: The NAL announced its 2018 season will feature six teams that will include the returning Columbus (GA) Lions, Jacksonville Sharks and Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA), along with three expansion teams called the Maine Mammoths (Portland), Massachusetts Pirates (Worcester) and the Carolina Cobras (Greensboro, NC). Last season's Monterrey Steel (Mexico) and a previously announced expansion team called the Jersey Flight (Trenton) did not meet league requirements to participate in the NAL's 2018 season.

American Arena League: After being dropped by the National Arena League, it looks like the AAL plans to add the Jersey Flight (Trenton) for its inaugural 2018 season.

Elite Indoor Football: The semi-pro EIF recently announced two more new teams called the New England Bobcats (Boston area) and the Georgia Panthers have been added for the 2018 season. Previously listed teams called the Central Florida Hurricanes and Florida Tribe are no longer listed. The EIF currently lists 14 participating teams for 2018.

Professional Football League: Another new outdoor spring football league called the PFL plans to start play in 2018 with eight teams. The PFL lists seven of the eight coaches for its teams and four of those coaches were previously associated with proposed teams in the failed Major League Football. A PFL player draft is planned for February 2018.

HOCKEY

ECHL: Although the Reno (NV) city council approved a local group's effort to bring a pro hockey team to the city last December, a proposed new 2018 Reno-based ECHL team has hit a roadblock over funding needed to make the Reno Events Center ready for hockey. Reno had previous teams called the Reno Renegades (1995-97) and the Reno Rage (1997-98) as part of the former West Coast Hockey League (WCHL), which was merged into the ECHL for the 2003-04 season. A proposed WCHL Reno expansion team, originally known as the Raiders, was part of the WCHL-ECHL merger and the owner kept up with ECHL dues on the inactive franchise for over ten years, but was unable to build a new hockey arena as planned. The new Reno ECHL effort hopes to have the team become affiliated with the National Hockey League's Vegas Golden Knights.

United States Premier Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level USPHL announced a new team called the Twin City Thunder (Lewiston-Auburn, ME) will be added to its Premier North Division in 2018-19.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS has approved a new ownership structure for the Miami expansion group that should provide it with better financial support. The MLS is expected to make a further announcement on its Miami team prior to the start of the 2018 season. . Premier Area Soccer League: The amateur-level PASL started its 2017-18 season last weekend with a four-team Midwest Division consisting of teams called the Kansas City Barilleros FC, Springfield (MO) Demize, Tulsa Tornados FC and Wichita Selection. The PASL also announced last month it would be starting a women's league this winter.

National Women's Soccer League: The NWSL's new team to be operated by the Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer officially announced its name will be the Utah Royals FC (Salt Lake City) when it starts play in 2018. The Utah Royals FC replaces the FC Kansas City team in the ten-team NWSL. FC Kansas City ceased operations after the 2017 season, but its players were assigned to the Utah Royals FC.

OTHER

American Ultimate Disc League: The Jacksonville Cannons of the men's professional AUDL announced the team will be moving to Orlando for the 2018 season. The Jacksonville Cannons joined the AUDL as an expansion team for the 2015 season. Numerous players inside and outside the AUDL have organized a boycott of the AUDL to put pressure on the league to include women in competitions. The AUDL announced a long-term agenda to advance women's ultimate at the adult and youth levels, but it is not planning a full-fledged women's league or a shift to mixed-gender play.

Pacific Rugby Premiership: The PRP, which is America's highest level of men's amateur rugby competition on the West Coast, will return for its fourth season in 2018 with six participating clubs. The PRP will have three Bay Area teams called the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby, The Olympic Club (San Francisco) and Life West Gladiators (Hayward, CA), and six Southern California teams called the Santa Monica Rugby Club Dolphins, Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (San Diego) and Belmont Shore Rugby Club (Long Beach). The 2018 season will run from early February through April. The PRP started play in 2014 and played three seasons prior to sitting out the 2017 season.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2015-16: "The Leagueology Almanac" , which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is available for sale at www.amazon.com.

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