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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 15, 2018 - International League (IL)

BASEBALL

International League: The Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox, or PawSox, of the Triple-A International League moved a step closer to a proposed new stadium in Pawtucket after the Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee approved a state funding package for the stadium. The plan still needs approval from the full Senate and the House of Representatives. Officials in Worcester (MA) are still interested in luring the PawSox to a proposed new stadium to be built in the city, although there have been no specific details about the stadium. Worcester and PawSox officials are supposed to meet again later this month.

California Winter League: The instructional CWL, which is billed as the official winter league of the independent Frontier League, has posted its 2018 season schedule that will feature 10 teams playing from January 25 to February 13, 2018. The league is a pay-to-play showcase for players trying to latch on to a Frontier League team or other independent league teams that have representatives scouting talent for the 2018 summer season. The CWL is entering its ninth season and plays all games at a complex in Palm Springs (CA). In late November 2017, the CWL announced an agreement with Japan's minor professional Baseball Challenge League (BCL) to allow representatives of all eight BCL teams to scout the 2018 CWL and sign players for the 2018 BCL season.

Desert League of Professional Baseball: The Arizona-based independent Desert League announced last month it was cancelling its 2018 winter season that was to have run from January 23 to February 28. The league worked out a deal for its players to attend the pay-to-play California Winter League at a discounted rate. The Desert League played its first short season with four teams in the fall of 2016. The league again had four teams scheduled for the 2018 season. Teams called the Imperial County Ghost Riders and Yuma Maple Leafs were to return from the 2016 season, along with the new San Luis Jays and a team of All-Stars from the National Urban Professional Baseball League.

Northwoods League: A group that owns several teams in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League is still trying to bring a team to Waukesha (WI), but is facing local opposition to renovation plans for the city's ballpark.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced three more new teams called the New York Whoshouseballers (Long Island), Scranton (PA) Shamrocks and San Francisco City Cats have been added for the 2018-19 season. The ABA had a previous Long Island team called the Strong Island Sound for two seasons (2005-07). The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team called the Northeast Pennsylvania Breakers started play in the ABA's 2005-06 season, but left the league in December 2005 to join the United States Basketball League. A previous ABA team called the San Francisco Rumble played eight seasons (2007-15) and a team called the San Francisco Pilots played in the 2005-06 season.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The Champions Indoor Football (CIF) has filed a lawsuit against two of its former teams called the Bloomington (IL) Edge and West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) for breach of contract. After the 2017 season, both teams apparently signed contracts to be part of the CIF for the 2018 season, but then left to join the IFL for the 2018 season. The CIF is trying to block the teams from playing in the IFL for the 2018 season.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: The U.S. Army has officially filed a notice of opposition to the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights use of the "Golden Knights" as its team name. The Army contends that confusion is likely between the Army Golden Knights parachute team and the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights. The NHL team has until mid-February to respond to the opposition filing. The rumors of a possible move of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes to Quebec City or any other location appear to be unfounded, since a new owner has purchased a majority interest in the team with plans to keep the team in Raleigh. The NHL is considering allowing the New York Islanders to use its former home, the Nassau Coliseum, as a temporary home when the team leaves Brooklyn's Barclays Center after the 2018-19 season. The Islanders are working on plans for a new arena at Belmont Park, but it is not expected to be ready until 2020. The Nassau Coliseum was recently renovated, but now only seats 13,900 fans for hockey. In Ottawa, the mayor stated the city would not provide any public funding for the Ottawa Senators' proposed new downtown arena.

Central 1 Hockey League: The proposed C1HL, which was to be a new 2017-18 Tier-I junior-level league under the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union before failing to get off the ground, has announced plans to start play with six teams for a 2018-19 season. The C1HL says it has three confirmed teams in Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma.

United States Hockey League: The ownership of the ECHL's Kansas City Mavericks (Independence) is still trying to build a new arena in the Kansas City area for a possible junior-level team in the Tier-I USHL. After previous attempts in Wyandotte County (KS) and Overland Park (KS) fell through, plans for a new development have been proposed at a site in Olathe (KS). The ownership group has applied for state bonds to finance the project that is still in the early planning stages.

SOCCER

North American Soccer League: Since the Division-II status of the NASL is uncertain for the upcoming season as it waits for a decision from the courts on an appeal to keep its Division-II status, the league will not be able to play its Spring 2018 season and has decided to adopt a schedule following the international soccer calendar. If the NASL is able to operate, it will play a 2018-19 season running from August 11, 2018 to June 1, 2019. The uncertainty of the NASL's status led to it losing another team, as the Indianapolis-based Indy Eleven announced it is moving to the Division-II United Soccer League (USL) for the 2018 season. Another NASL team called the North Carolina FC (Cary) had already left for the USL after the 2017 season. Of the eight NASL teams from 2017, two other teams called the FC Edmonton and San Francisco Deltas ceased operations leaving the league with four returning teams called the Miami FC, Jacksonville Armada, New York Cosmos and Puerto Rico FC. The NASL announced two 2018 expansion teams called the California United FC (Orange County) and the San Diego-based 1904 FC. Recently, the 1904 FC ownership stated the team might push back its start until the 2019 season and could consider a move to the United Soccer League. In addition, the owner of the Jacksonville Armada recently stated the team could change to another league.

United Soccer League: Major League Soccer's Atlanta United FC announced its new Division-II USL team will be called the Atlanta United 2 when it starts play in suburban Gwinnett for the 2018 season. The USL announced its alignment for the 2018 season will feature 33 teams aligned in a 16-team Eastern Conference and a 17-team Western Conference. The USL had 30 teams last season, but three teams called the Orlando City B, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 and Rochester Rhinos will not return. The USL added six new teams for the 2018 season. These include the Indy Eleven (Indianapolis) and North Carolina FC (Cary) from the North American Soccer League, plus expansion teams called the Atlanta United 2, Fresno FC, Las Vegas Lights FC and Nashville SC. The USL's Harrisburg City Islanders team was renamed the Penn FC for the 2018 season. A new Memphis team was recently confirmed for a start in the 2019 season.

OTHER

Major League Rugby: The rugby club called Vancouver RFC (British Columbia) has entered into discussions with the new MLR for entry into the league for the 2019 season. The owner of the MLR's new Seattle Seawolves team for 2018 is involved in organizing the new Vancouver team that is expected to become a natural rival for Seattle.

American Ultimate Disk League: The professional AUDL announced last month the move of its Jacksonville franchise to Orlando, but now has announced the franchise will instead be established in Tampa for the 2018 season. The owner of the league's Jacksonville Cannons had sold the franchise back to the AUDL after the 2017 season and the league planned to operate the team in Orlando until new ownership could be found. A new potential ownership group emerged in Tampa, so the former Jacksonville/Orlando Cannons will start play in Tampa for the 2018 season. The AUDL currently lists the team as the Tampa Bay Cannons.

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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International League Stories from January 15, 2018


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