Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
February 5, 2018 - ECHL (ECHL)
Pacific Association of Professional Baseball: The independent Pacific Association, which has all teams located in small markets in northern California, has posted a notice for its annual league-wide tryout in April 2018 featuring six teams. These teams will include the returning Sonoma Stompers, San Rafael Pacifics, Pittsburg Diamonds and Vallejo Admirals along with new teams called the Napa Silverados and Martinez Clippers. The league has operated with four teams since it started play in 2013.
Texas League: Ground was broken this week on a new baseball stadium in Amarillo that will become home to the relocating San Antonio Missions of the Double-A Texas League for the 2019 season. A name-the-team contest is expected to start in April 2018.
Southern League: Funding for a new ballpark that is expected to become home to the Mobile BayBears of the Double-A Southern League was approved by the Huntsville (AL) suburb of Madison. The ballpark is expected to be completed for the 2020 season. With the ballpark plans in place, the BayBears' ownership is expected to move forward on a relocation application to the league.
International League: The Rochester Red Wings of the Triple-A International League have not been able to negotiate a long-term stadium lease with the county. The league president stated if a deal cannot be worked out then relocation could be an option, but that is not something the league wants to do.
South Atlantic League: The Hickory (NC) Crawdads of the low Class-A SAL announced the team will be renamed the Crawmoms as a tribute to moms on Mother's Day weekend during the 2018 season.
Atlantic League: The proposed new downtown ballpark in High Point (NC) for an independent Atlantic League team is moving forward and it is currently expected to open in 2019. The city has signed a lease with a team and a stadium operator. The league's dormant Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish team is expected to be relocated to High Point.
Southwest League of Professional Baseball: The city of Joplin (MO) will consider a stadium lease proposal by Ventura Sports Group, which is the organizer of the Southwest League and trying to bring a team to the city's Joe Becker Stadium. The league wants to start play with six teams in 2019 and stated that it already had two Texas teams committed and three other Texas teams in the works.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team from the Philadelphia area called the Norristown (PA) Knights will start play in the 2018-19 ABA season. The league's previously announced new team in Colorado Springs will be called the Colorado Springs Mountaineers. The ABA announced a new nine-week league called the ABA Gold will start play in August 2018 with eight teams called the San Diego Floaters, Los Angeles Superstars, Chicago Wind, New York Empire, Baltimore Sparks, Orlando Splash, Atlanta Hotballers and Dallas/Fort Worth Power. Teams will be comprised of the ABA's top-tier pro players and celebrity players from the athletic and entertainment worlds. Each weekend event will feature all teams playing four round-robin style games under the "First to 50"" format (the first team to score 50 points wins) with each game lasting only about 30 minutes. All games will be played in Las Vegas with teams owned by a celebrity in the music or sports world.
American Arena League: The Vermont Bucks (Burlington) of the AAL will not be part of the league's first season in 2018. The Vermont Bucks were in the process of being sold, but the new owners stated the team would not play in 2018. The Vermont Bucks were the 2017 champions of the former Canadian Indoor Football League, which merged with a league called American Pro Football to form the AAL for 2018. A team called the Peach State Cats (Dalton, GA), which recently joined the AAL from the league called Elite Indoor Football, will assume the void in the AAL schedule due to the loss of the Bucks.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF won a temporary injunction from the courts to halt the move of two of its former teams called the West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) and Bloomington (IL) Edge from moving to the Indoor Football League (IFL) for the 2018 season. Both teams had already signed agreements to play in the 2018 CIF season before deciding to move to the IFL. The CIF must post a $250,000 bond to move forward with a permanent injunction, so there could be some type of settlement with the two teams outside of court. The IFL would be down to only six teams if West Michigan and Bloomington cannot play in the 2018 season.
Indoor Football League: The owner of the IFL's Cedar Rapids (IA) Titans is putting the team up for sale and hopes a local owner will come forward to keep the team in the city. The Titans are committed to playing in the upcoming 2018 IFL season.
China Arena Football League: The CAFL, which is considered a professional developmental league for the U.S.-based Arena Football League, recently announced it will not play its second season until the fall of 2019. The CAFL held its first season in the fall of 2016 with six teams, but announced plans to move to a spring/summer season for its second season in 2018 to attract more fans. The CAFL had planned to add two additional teams and operate with eight teams in 2018, but that has again been delayed.
ECHL: The group trying to bring an ECHL team to St. John's (Newfoundland) for the 2018-19 season has been delayed in negotiating an arena lease at the city's Mile One Centre. The arena's current tenant, the St. John's Edge of the National Basketball League of Canada, is challenging whether its period of exclusivity in bringing a hockey team to the arena has expired. The situation will go before an arbitrator.
National Hockey League: The NHL's Arizona Coyotes hope to resolve its arena situation with construction of a new arena and the league expects the team to remain in the Phoenix area rather than move to a new location.
National Collegiate Development Conference: The New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (Hooksett) organization, which currently operates Tier-III junior-level teams in the independent United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) Premier Division and Elite Division, will place a team in the tuition-free Tier-II NCDC in the 2018-19 season. The NCDC is affiliated with the USPHL and is operating with 11 teams this season.
Major League Soccer: The MLS officially granted its 25th franchise to Miami and the team is expected to start play at a temporary venue in 2020 until a new 25,000-seat stadium is ready in 2021. The new Miami team expects to announce a name-the-team contest in the near future. The MLS had a previous team called the Miami Fusion that was based in Fort Lauderdale before folding after four seasons (1998-2001).
National Women's Soccer League: After the Boston Breakers ceased operations last week, the NWSL held a dispersal draft of Breakers' players to the league's remaining nine teams.
United Soccer League Division-III League: The city of Greenville (SC) is still interested in hosting a team in the new USL Division-III league that plans to start play in 2019. The league visited Greenville this past summer and is reported to be in discussions with a potential local ownership group.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The St. Louis Lions men's team in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League announced it will field a women's team in the 2018 WPSL.
United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League: The Santa Cruz Breakers soccer organization plans to operate a team in the PDL for the 2018 season. The Santa Cruz Breakers youth clubs have been around since 1992 and the club operated an adult team for two seasons (2006-07) in the National Premier Soccer League.
National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level NPSL plans to add new teams called the St. Louis Atletico, Northern Virginia United FC (Leesburg) and FC Brownsville (TX) for the 2018 season. Due to the uncertainty of a 2018 season in the North American Soccer League, the NASL's Jacksonville Armada and Miami FC plan to operate teams in the lower-level NPSL for its 2018 season that runs from April through July. The teams want to keep their players active and possibly return to the NASL in August, if the NASL is able to restart with a proposed switch to an international soccer calendar running from August 2018 to June 2019. The Jacksonville Armada U-23 team has been a member of the NPSL for the past seven seasons (2011-17). The 2018 Miami FC NPSL team will be called Miami FC 2.
National Pro Fastpitch: The women's NPF has terminated its Houston franchise called the Scrap Yard Dawgs for violations of its franchise agreement. The Houston team had joined the NPF as a 2016 expansion team. The owner of the Scrap Yard Dawgs also owned the league's Texas Charge (San Marcos) team that was also dropped after the 2017 season. The league had six teams last season, but will operate with five teams in 2018 after the loss of the two Texas teams and the addition of the Australian travel team called the Aussie Spirit.
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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