Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 2, 2018 - NBA G League (G League)

BASEBALL

Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: The Triple-A LMB, or Mexican Baseball League, started its 2018 season this week and again has 16 teams split into eight-team North (Norte) and South (Sur) divisions. Last season's Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz relocated to Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas) where the team will be splitting its 2018 home schedule between Nuevo Laredo and Laredo (TX) as the renamed Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos (The Owls of Two Laredos). The Tecolotes were placed in the LMB Norte and the Diablos Rojos del Mexico (Mexico City) were moved from the LMB Norte to the LMB Sur to take the place of Veracruz. Also, the Vaqueros Union Laguna were renamed the Algodoneros Union Laguna (Cotton Growers) for the 2018 season.

Eastern League: The Binghamton (NY) Rumble Ponies of the Double-A Eastern League will play in the 2018 season as the Binghamton Spiedies as a tribute to a popular local meat sandwich.

Empire Professional Baseball League: The independent EPBL has yet to officially announce a location for its sixth 2018 team, which was announced simply as the Bucks with a yet-to-be-determined home field, but a recent posting of the 2018 teams has the team listed as the Delaware Bucks. Another new team called the New Hampshire Wild has also been added for 2018 to increase the league from four to six teams.

United Shore Professional Baseball League: The independent USPBL recently announced its 2018 season schedule that will start in mid-May 2018 with the same four league-operated teams called the Westside Woolly Mammoths, Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers, Eastside Diamond Hoppers and Utica Unicorns. All games are played at a 4,000-seat stadium in Utica (MI) near Detroit. The USPBL is entering its third season of play.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The Delaware 87ers, the G-League affiliate of the National Basketball Association's Philadelphia 76ers,will be renamed the Delaware Blue Coats starting with the 2018-19 season. The new name coincides with the team's plan to move next season to a new 76ers Fieldhouse to be built in Wilmington (DE). The Delaware 87ers have been playing home games at the 5,000-seat Bob Carpenter Center on the campus of the University of Delaware in Newark since their inaugural 2013-14 season. Wilmington is about 20 miles northeast of Newark and about 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia.

Women's American Basketball Association: The reboot of the WABA, which is affiliated with the men's American Basketball Association, will enter its second season in August 2018. The league operated with seven teams in the 2017 season and will continue to add more teams until an April 30 deadline. Three more teams called the Chicago Lady Steam, Columbus (GA) Lady Blackhawks and the Maryland-based Dynasty team were recently added for 2018. The Chicago Lady Steam was affiliated with the WABA when the league was first organizing in 2011 and the team played in the WABA's inaugural short-schedule summer season of 2014.

American Professional Basketball League: The men's semi-pro APBL is wrapping up its 2017-18 regular season and will start its playoffs next week. The APBL operated with a nine-team Metropolitan Conference and a six-team Regional Conference, which had added a new team called the Harford Bucs mid midway through the season in early January 2018.

FOOTBALL

United States Women's Football League: The USWFL started its 2018 season this weekend with ten participating teams called the Capital City Savages (Lansing, MI), Carolina Queens, Detroit Pride, Fayetteville Fierce, Hampton Roads (VA) Lady Gators, Houston Heat, North Florida Pumas (Jacksonville), Tennessee Diamondbacks (Clarksville), Tri-Cities Thunder (Bristol, TN) and Washington (DC) Prodigy. The USWFL evolved from the former Women's Spring Football League.

HOCKEY

Southern Professional Hockey League: With the ECHL's Quad City Mallards (Moline, IL) folding after the 2017-18 season, a potential ownership group for an SPHL team in the Quad Cities recently toured the hockey facilities in Peoria (IL), which is home to the SPHL's Peoria Rivermen. A Quad City SPHL team could become a natural rival for the Peoria team since the markets are only about 100 miles apart. The SPHL would consider a Quad City application, but an ownership group would need to be in place by May 15, 2018 for a team to start next season. The operators of the Moline arena are also considering the junior-level United States Hockey League as a possible future tenant.

ECHL: A businessman is trying to bring an ECHL team to Long Island (NY) and has proposed a new 7,500-seat arena be built on a vacant site in the Medford area of Suffolk County.

SOCCER

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL announced a new team will be added in the Orlando area for the 2018-19 season and the team will play home games at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. A name-the-team contest has already been announced. The co-owner of the league's current Cedar Rapids (IA) Rampage franchise will be the general manager of the new Orlando team. The future of the Cedar Rapids Rampage is uncertain, as that ownership group put the Rampage up for sale this past January and the league has stepped in to try to find a new local group to take over the franchise. The Rampage just completed its third season in the league. The city of Bakersfield (CA) will be hosting an arena soccer international game later this month and a local group is hoping to eventually bring an MASL team to the city.

U. S. Arena Soccer League: A new indoor soccer team called FC Amarillo announced it will be part of the new USASL, which plans to start play in 2019 with teams in Texas and the Midwest. It is uncertain if Amarillo's new league is the same U.S. Arena Soccer League being developed by Major League Futsal USA. The MLF's USASL played a couple of 2018 games in late February, but no other 2018 games are currently posted. In late February the MLF's USASL had announced 11 teams throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Baja California (Mexico) and Nebraska (Omaha) that would be part of a 2018 season.

FIFA Women's League: The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which is the international governing body for soccer (association football), announced plans to launch a new global women's soccer league. The league would include 16 of the top women's national teams that could start play in November 2019. FIFA would also start four regional women's leagues to try to develop women's soccer across the world.

Asociacion Mundial de Futsal USA: The governing body of futsal known as the Asociacion Mundial de Futsal (AMF), or World Futsal Association, plans to set up a United States league (AMFUSA) starting in May 2018. In February 2018, the United Premier Soccer League, which is an amateur pro development league with 140 teams across the United States, formed a partnership to work with the new AMFUSA in establishing its new league. Futsal was started in Uruguay in 1930 and is popular throughout South America. The AMF has its headquarters in Paraguay.

United Soccer Leagues - Premier Development League: The PDL announced its expansion team to be located in Great Barrington in western Massachusetts will be called Black Rock FC. The PDL will start its 2018 season next month with 74 teams. An expansion team in Memphis has not yet announced its name.

National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite amateur NPSL started its 2018 season last month with action involving its West Region of teams and other regions to start later this month and in early May. The NPSL has 98 teams aligned into four regions with three of the regions (Midwest, Northeast and West) further aligned into three conferences and one region (South) aligned into four conferences. The NPSL started in 2003 as the Men's Premier Soccer League until evolving into the NPSL for the 2005 season.

OTHER

American Ultimate Disc League: The men's professional AUDL started its 2018 season this weekend with 23 teams across the United States and Canada aligned into East, Midwest, South and West divisions. The AUDL had 24 teams last season in 4 six-team divisions, but the Vancouver Riptide (British Columbia) did not return to the West division in 2018. Also, the Jacksonville Cannons franchise was relocated and became the Tampa Bay Cannons for 2018. Some of the AUDL teams have organized women's teams that will start to play some games this season.

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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