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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
February 26, 2018 - United Soccer League (USL)

BASEBALL

American Association: A new independent AA expansion franchise has been granted for the Ballpark Commons development in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin (WI). Ballpark construction is expected to start shortly with plans for the team to begin play in the 2019 season. The new team plans to announce a name-the-team contest in the near future. The team name will have a farm/agricultural theme.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League is looking at the Tehachapi (CA) market for a 2019 team that would be called the Tehachapi Blizzard.

Empire Pro Baseball League: In the 2017 off-season, the independent EPBL announced plans to expand from four to six teams for the 2018 season. Earlier this month, the league announced a team called the Bucks would play in the 2018 season, but did not yet know where in the Northeast the team would be based. This week, the league announced a team called the New Hampshire Wild (Rindge) will return for the 2018 season. The New Hampshire Wild and a team called the Watertown (NY) Bucks were part of the league's inaugural 2016 season before dropping out after the season. All four teams from last season, the Old Orchard Beach (ME) Surge, Plattsburgh (NY) Redbirds, Sullivan (NY) Explorers and the Puerto Rico Islanders travel team are expected to return for 2018.

Texas League: Construction on a new ballpark in Amarillo for the relocated San Antonio Missions of the Double-A Texas League will start early next month with completion expected in time for the 2019 season.

BASKETBALL

Canadian Elite Basketball League: The proposed new CEBL plans to be a coast-to-coast professional spring/summer basketball league based in Canada and playing by international FIBA rules. The league was first announced in late October 2017 and has since announced teams for Guelph (Ontario), the Niagara Region (St. Catharines) and Fraser Valley (Abbotsford, British Columbia). There have been no additional team announcements since November 2017 and it is uncertain when the league will start play. The CEBL is not to be confused with the Canadian Basketball League, which apparently has suspended operations after playing an inaugural 2016-17 season with four Ontario-based teams called Durham United (Oshawa), Hamilton United, Scarborough Basketball Club (Toronto) and Wellington Basketball Club (Guelph).

Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA recently announced new teams called the Cleveland Blaze, Jersey Shore Riptide, Lehigh Valley Lady Hunters, Boston Clovers and Maryland Jewels (Harford County) have been added for the 2018 season after the league restarted play last season with seven teams. The league plans to announce new teams in California, Iowa, Florida, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New York before a deadline of April 30, 2018. The 2018 season will start in early August 2018. Teams called the D.C. Cyclones, Jersey Expressions, Long Island Storm, Mount Vernon (NY) Shamrocks, Atlanta Justice, Middle Georgia Pits and Orlando Splash were part of the 2017 season.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced teams called the Memphis Rhythm and Roanoke Rising Stars have been added for the 2018-19 season. The ABA has had several previous Memphis-based teams called the Memphis Houn'Dawgs (2000-01), Bluff City Reign (2011-13), Memphis Lions (2014-15) and Mid-South Echoes (2015-16). The Mid-South Echoes and a team called the Memphis Jazz are listed in the 2017-18 ABA standings with no games played.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: The CFL commissioner recently visited Halifax (Nova Scotia), which wants to become home to the league's tenth team and would fill out the East Division with a fifth team. An ownership group is in place in Halifax, but a new CFL-style stadium would need to be built. An optimistic view from the ownership group would have stadium groundbreaking in 2018 with a team starting play in either 2020 or 2021.

Indoor Football League: The IFL started its 2018 season this weekend with six teams aligned in one table. The IFL had ten teams in 2017, but the Wichita Falls (TX) Nighthawks, Colorado Crush (Loveland), Salt Lake Screaming Eagles and Spokane (WA) Empire did not return. The Bloomington (IL) Edge and West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) announced plans to join the IFL from the Champions Indoor Football (CIF) for the 2018 season, but the CIF won an injunction to ban the teams from playing the 2018 indoor season in any league other than the CIF. The Edge and Ironmen decided to sit out the 2018 indoor season, but the Edge recently announced plans to play an independent summer schedule of seven games after the 2018 CIF season is completed. It is uncertain as to all the teams the Flex will play, but one is reported to involve an all-star team of players from the Midwest Professional Indoor Football. The Edge still could join the IFL next season, but that is not its current focus.

Elite Indoor Football: The EIF recently announced Mexican teams called the Lagartos Tamaulipas and Monterrey Steel will play a total of seven crossover international games against EIF teams during the 2018 season. The Monterrey Steel was part of the 2017 National Arena League and was made up of players from the Lagartos de Tampico (Tamaulipas) team that was part of the 2016 league called North American Indoor Football.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: The group trying to bring an NHL expansion team to Seattle announced a season ticket drive will start next month to gauge support for an NHL team in the city.

Federal Hockey League: The Cornwall (Ontario) Nationals of the FHL ceased operations early this week due to poor attendance and low income. Cornwall players were part of a dispersal draft involving the league's remaining five teams. The FHL also created a league-operated team called the Northern Federals, which will play five of the Nationals' previously scheduled road games against the league's Watertown (NY) Wolves. Other FHL teams were granted forfeit victories over the folded Nationals team. The Cornwall Nationals joined the FHL as an expansion team for the 2016-17 season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS had planned to announce its latest expansion team, which would be the league's 26th team, at the start of the 2018 season next weekend, but it does not appear that will happen. Stadium construction or financial support for expansion efforts in Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento have forced the league to delay a decision.

North American Soccer League: An appeals court has denied a preliminary injunction sought by the NASL to prevent the United States Soccer Federation's demotion of the league from Division-II status. The NASL's lawsuit against its demotion will continue, but the recent court decision makes the league's future even more uncertain.

Women's Premier Soccer League: The WPSL announced a few more new teams earlier this month. New teams called Fortuna Tulsa and Chicago City SC will join for the 2018 season. A new team to be based in Dover (DE) called the Coastal Atlantic FC will start play in the 2019 season.

United Soccer League: The state of Connecticut approved $10 million in funds to renovate Hartford's Dillon Stadium, which would then become home to a future USL team that could start play in the 2019 season. There was an attempt to renovate the stadium a couple of years ago for a proposed North American Soccer League team to be called Hartford City FC, but it fell through after the developers mishandled renovation funds. A different group purchased rights to the Hartford City FC name and started a team by that name in the 2017 season of the men's National Premier Soccer League.

National Premier Soccer League: A new team called Cleveland SC has been added to the NPSL's Midwest Region East Conference for the 2018 season. The team replaces the league's AFC Cleveland Royals team that was part of the league for the past six seasons (2012-17), but was expelled after the 2017 for non-compliance with league by-laws.

OTHER

Women's Professional Lacrosse League: The new field lacrosse WPLL will start play in June 2018 with five teams called the Baltimore Brave, Upstate (New York) Pride, New England Command, Philadelphia Fire and New York Fight. The inaugural game in June will be played prior to a game between the Ohio Machine and Chesapeake Bayhawks of the men's field lacrosse league called Major League Lacrosse.

Rugby Football League "" Championship: The Toronto Wolfpack recently started play as the lone North American team in the Championship league, which is the second-level pro division of England's RFL. The Wolfpack was promoted after playing its inaugural season in 2017 as part of the RFL's lowest pro level called League 1. The RFL also operates its top pro level called the Super League. There has been talk of additional North American expansion with another Canadian team along with possible teams in New York and Boston. These teams would not start play until 2020 and could be placed in either the League 1 or Championship level. The RFL plays under the 13-player "rugby league" format.

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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United Soccer League Stories from February 26, 2018


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