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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 22, 2018 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Arizona Winter League: The independent instructional AWL has posted its 2018 schedule that will feature four teams called the Edmonton Capitals, Laredo Apaches, Team Canada and Yuma Tejanos Wranglers playing a three-week season next month. All games are played at the Ray Kroc Sports Complex in Yuma (AZ). The AWL is a pay-to-play showcase for players trying to latch onto an independent team for the upcoming summer season.

National Urban Professional Baseball League: The proposed new NUPBL is still planning to start play this summer and currently lists two teams based in Millington (TN) and Laurel (MS). The NUPBL is promoting diversity in baseball and although it is targeting African-American communities and players, the league will not be limited to just African-American players.

BASKETBALL

Central Basketball Association: The CBA has posted the schedule for its sixth springtime season that will feature eight teams each playing eight games from March through April 2018. All seven teams from last season have returned, although the Mississippi Eagles (Southhaven) have moved to Tennessee as the Jackson Eagles. The league's Memphis Rail Runners team that last played in the 2016 season has returned as the eighth team for the 2018 season.

CIBACOPA (Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico): Mexico's Pacific Coast Basketball League known as the CIBACOPA, which is the country's second professional basketball league next to the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP), will have the same ten teams as last season when it starts play in April 2018. The ownership of the Mineros de Cananea tried to become an 11th team in 2018, but was unable to establish the team in either Aqua Prieta or Nogales.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced another new team called the New Jersey Nationals (Washington, NJ) has been added for the 2018-19 season.

FOOTBALL

Women's Football Alliance: The full-tackle outdoor WFA has announced ten teams that have joined the league for its upcoming 2018 springtime season. The new teams include seven Division-3 teams called the Knoxville Lightning, Grand Rapids Tsunami, Columbus (IN) Vanguards, Savannah Hurricanez, Colorado Freeze (Denver area), Roswell (NM) Destroyers, and Mississippi Royalty (Hattiesburg), along with three Division-2 teams called the San Diego Rebellion, Wisconsin Dragons (Milwaukee) and Capital City Rage (Sacramento). The Knoxville Lightning and Colorado Freeze were 2017 affiliate teams of the Independent Women's Football League. A Wisconsin Dragons team played two prior seasons (2011-12) in the WFA.

United States Women's Football League: The USWFL has posted its team listing for the upcoming 2018 season that includes new teams called the Capital City Savages (Lansing, MI), Houston Heat, Delaware Falcons (Wilmington), Hampton Roads Lady Gators (Norfolk, VA), and Southern Reapers (Whitwell, TN). In addition, the Carolina Queens (Charlotte) from the 2017 Independent Women's Football League and the North Florida Pumas (Jacksonville) from the 2017 Women's Football Alliance have joined the USWFL. Two other teams called the Baltimore Burn and Tennessee Legacy that last played in the 2016 season are listed as 2018 teams.

Independent Women's Football League: The IWFL announced four teams called the Seattle Majestics, Texas Elite (Dallas), Eugene (OR) Ladyhawks and San Diego Surge have joined the league for the upcoming 2018 springtime season. The Seattle Majestics, Texas Elite (as the Dallas Elite) and the San Diego Surge were part of the 2017 Women's Football Alliance.

Elite Indoor Football: The semi-pro EIF league has added an independent team called the Fort Worth Gunslingers that will play a couple of EIF games in 2018 and play a full EIF schedule in 2019.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The ownership group trying to bring an ECHL team to St. John's (Newfoundland) for the 2018-19 season might be able to start negotiating an arena lease at the city's Mile One Centre next week. As part of the lease agreement at the arena with the St. John's Edge, which is a new National Basketball League of Canada team that started play this past November, the Edge ownership had exclusivity for bringing a hockey team to the arena. If some other group came forward with a hockey proposal for the arena, the Edge ownership would have 45 days to come up with plans for a hockey team. The potential ECHL group notified the city of its intentions in early December, so next week would be the end of the 45-day period for the Edge ownership, which had been interested in a team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Western States Hockey League: The WSHL, which operates as a Tier-II junior-level league under the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union, recently announced plans to expand into the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan with its new Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA). The WPHA will become the Provincial Division under the WSHL alignment for the 2018-19 season and the division is expected to have six to eight teams. The Alberta towns of Morinville and Cold Water have been mentioned as possible team locations. The WSHL is operating with 23 teams across the western half of the United States for the 2017-18 season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS is expected to make an announcement in the near future about its Miami expansion team that could start play for the 2020 season. The Miami MLS expansion group recently added some new owners and a proposed new stadium is said to be moving forward. If the new stadium is not ready for 2020, the team would find a temporary venue in the Miami area.

National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level NPSL announced the FC Columbus (Ohio) has joined as a 2018 expansion team and will be part of the Midwest Region's Great Lakes Conference.

National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL announced each of its ten teams will play a 24-game schedule from late March to early September for the league's sixth season in 2018. The only change from last season was the folding of the FC Kansas City Blues franchise, which was replaced by the new Utah Royals FC (Salt Lake City). United Soccer League: The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) officially granted the 33-team USL sanctioning at the Division-II level for the 2018 season and allowed the league two years for full compliance with USSF Division-II requirements. The 2019 USL expansion team in Birmingham (AL) announced the team will be called the Birmingham Legion FC. Officials in Loudoun County (VA) approved a new soccer complex that will feature a 5,000-seat stadium for a USL team to be owned and operated by Major League Soccer's D.C. United. The team is expected to start play for the 2019 season. The D.C. United has used the Richmond Kickers as its USL affiliate team for the past several seasons. The USL's Swope Park Rangers announced the team will be moving for the 2018 season from Kansas City (MO) to a new suburban Kansas City (KS) facility in Overland Park.

United Women's Soccer: The elite-level UWS recently announced another Michigan-based team called the Genesee FC (Flint) has been added to the Midwest Conference for the 2018 season. The conference now has five Michigan teams with the new Lansing United and the returning Detroit Suns, Grand Rapids FC and Michigan Legends FC (Detroit area). The UWS also announced two expansion teams have been added to the East Conference for the 2018 season. The ownership of the Farmington Sports Arena plans to add a 2018 UWS team in Farmington (CT) and the new Worcester (MA) Smiles will start play in 2018.

OTHER

United Ultimate League: The new semi-pro mixed-gender UUL plans to start play in April 2019 with eight teams and will be competition for the more-established American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). The UUL will feature six-on-six competition (three men and three women per team) on a smaller field rather than the traditional seven-on-seven style and larger field used by the AUDL. The mixed-gender aspect of the league is a new and timely concept, as the AUDL recently faced a boycott by players due to its lack of female representation. The first-year teams are listed in a North Division with the Boston Whalers, New York Kraken, Philadelphia Pride and Washington Generals, and a South Division with the Carolina Cutlass (Raleigh, NC), Nashville Tristars, Atlanta Hounds and Florida Gulls (Jacksonville). The UUL season is short (three games per team) with each team playing the other teams in its division only once. The UUL will operate all teams and it plans to add four additional regional divisions of teams over the next few years.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames, 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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