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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 1, 2018 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball: The independent Pacific Association, which has all teams based in Northern California, recently announced the manager for its Napa Valley expansion team called the Napa Silverados that will start as the league's fifth team in 2018. A proposed sixth team in the East Bay area of San Francisco called the Martinez Clippers has been mentioned as the league's sixth team for 2018. In October 2017, the Martinez city council approved improvements to its Waterfront Park to accommodate the team. The Clippers nickname came from former New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio, who was born in Martinez and known as the Yankee Clipper. The Martinez Clippers tried to join the league back in 2014, but could not get approval for renovations to Waterfront Park at that time.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League recently announced its schedule for the 2018 season that will run from May 24 through July 26 and will feature 12 teams playing a 64-game schedule. The Hollywood Stars travel team will not return, but has been replaced by the Ruidoso (NM) Osos team. The league had 12 teams last season in 2 six-team divisions, but is now aligned in 3 four-team divisions. The Pacific Division will have all of the California teams called the Bakersfield Train Robbers, California City Whiptails, High Desert Yardbirds and Monterey Amberjacks; the Mountain Division has the Alpine (TX) Cowboys, Garden City (KS) Wind, Santa Fe Fuego and Trinidad (CO) Triggers; and the Southern Division includes the Roswell (NM) Invaders, Ruidoso Osos, Tucson Saguaros and White Sands Pupfish (Alamogordo, NM). The league had a Ruidoso Osos team in its inaugural 2011 season, but it lasted only the one season. Ruidoso will play only four home games and will serve as the league's travel team in 2018. The 2018 schedule will feature some of the teams playing games in neutral sites like Deming (NM), Winslow (AZ) and Hollister (CA).

BASKETBALL

Minor League Basketball Association: The new MLBA plans to start play in April 2018 and currently lists 27 teams in four regional conferences: the Southeast, Northwest, Mississippi Valley and Red River Valley. Many of the MLBA teams were part of the 2017 North American Basketball League and some others are current American Basketball Association teams.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team in Colorado Springs has been added to the list of 2018-19 expansion teams. The ABA was previously in the Colorado Springs market. A team called the Colorado Springs Storm was announced for the ABA's 2004-05 season, but the team moved to Denver before the season and became the Colorado Storm. Another team called the Colorado Springs Crusaders did play as part of the ABA for the first part of the 2011-12 season.

North American Basketball League: The NABL announced the Buffalo Blue Hawks team has been added for the 2018 season. The Blue Hawks were part of the 2016-17 American Basketball Association (ABA) and will probably be added to the NABL's new Northeast Division. Earlier this month the NABL announced its new five-team Midwest Conference will include the Grand Rapids Danger and Kentucky Enforcers (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky) from the 2016-17 ABA; the Ohio Bootleggers (Columbus) from the 2017 Premier Basketball League (PBL); the Indianapolis Diesels from the 2016 PBL; and the Southern Illinois Pharaohs (Carbondale) that were part of the 2017 NABL season. The NABL started in 2016 and plays a spring-summer schedule.

East Coast Basketball League: The semi-pro ECBL has posted its 2018 season schedule that will feature 16 teams aligned in a Northern Conference with four-team Northeast and Northwest divisions and a Southern Conference with four-team Southeast and Southwest divisions. The 2018 season will be the league's fourth season and will run from early March to early June. Gone from last season are the Charlotte Golden Bulls, High Point (NC) Hawks and the Carolina Showtime travel team. New teams include the Charlotte Tribe, Rowan County (NC) Bulls and Hickory (NC) Hoyas, which was a 2017 travel team. New ownership took over the Greenville (NC) market and replaced last season's Carolina Kings with the East Carolina Cardinals. The Savannah Storm was renamed the C-Port Trojans in the off-season.

FOOTBALL

XFL: The organizer of the former XFL, which was billed as an "extreme" outdoor professional spring football league and lasted only the 2001 season, has hinted at the possibility of restarting a spring football league. The XFL tried to bring more entertainment to the fans than the National Football League by having helmet cameras, sideline audio, skycams and a more fast-paced "smashmouth" style of play. For its only season, the XFL had eight teams called the Birmingham Thunderbolts, Chicago Enforcers, New York-New Jersey Hitmen and Orlando Rage in the Eastern Division, and the Las Vegas Outlaws, Los Angeles Xtreme, Memphis Maniax and San Francisco Demons in the Western Division.

Rivals Professional Football League: The RPFL recently held its player draft for the upcoming eight-week 2018 season that will again feature eight teams. Teams called the Atlantic Sharks, Florida Red Wolves, Miami Blaze and South Beach Silverbacks will comprise a Southern Conference that will play all games at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah (FL) from March through April. The Detroit Cougars, Michigan Bearcats, Oakland County Racers and Pontiac Generals will make up the Northern Conference that will play all games at Wisner Stadium in Pontiac (MI) from June to August. The top team from each conference will meet in a championship game. The RPFL started league play in 2014 and states it is an adult professional developmental league to the National Football League, Canadian Football League and Arena Football League.

HOCKEY

ECHL: While the ownership of the St. John's Edge (Newfoundland) in the National Basketball League of Canada is interested in bringing a junior-level hockey team to the city as part of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), another group is trying to bring a minor professional ECHL team to the city, possibly for the 2018-19 season. The city is without professional hockey this season after the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens moved its American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate called the St. John's IceCaps to Laval (Quebec) for the 2017-18 season. A team called the St. John's IceCaps had been part of the AHL since the 2011-12 season. The city had a former QMJHL team called the St. John's Fog Devils for three seasons (2005-08), but it was moved to the Montreal area due to poor attendance.

SOCCER

National Premier Soccer League: The NPSL announced an expansion team called Atlantic City FC (New Jersey) has been added to the league's Northeast Region Keystone Conference for the 2018 season. . League 1 Ontario: The Canadian pro-am League 1 Ontario is adding teams to both its men's and women's divisions for the 2018 season. In the men's division, the new Alliance United Football, Inc., which is a partnership between Markham SC and Wexford SC that will be holding a name-the-team contest, has been added along with Unionville Milliken SC and Darby FC, both of which had teams in the league's 2017 women's division. In the women's division, the new Hamilton United Elite has been added along with a women's team to be operated by the Oakville Blue Devils men's team.

Premiere Ligue de Soccer du Quebec: The pro-am PLSQ, or Quebec Premiere Soccer League, announced it will be adding a five-team women's division for the 2018 season. The women's teams include AS Blainville, CS Monteuil, Dynamo de Quebec, FC Select Rive-Sud and Lakers du Lac Saint-Louis. The AS Blainville and Dynamo de Quebec clubs had team's in the 2017 PLSQ men's division.

United Women's Soccer: The elite-level UWS announced a team called the Lansing United has been added to the Midwest Conference for the 2018 season. The Midwest Conference has three other Michigan-based teams called the Detroit Suns, Grand Rapids FC and the Michigan Legends FC (Detroit area). The Lansing United club has operated a men's team as part of the National Premier Soccer League for the past four seasons (2014-17) and it is moving to the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League in 2018.

OTHER

American Ultimate Disc League: The Vancouver (British Columbia) Riptide of the men's professional AUDL has ceased operations and the league has allowed the ownership to move to the Portland (OR) market where a new team will start play in the 2019 season. The Riptide had been part of the AUDL since the 2014 season. Portland was home to the Portland Stags for all four seasons (2013-16) of a competing league called Major League Ultimate, which suspended operations after its 2016 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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