Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
April 16, 2018 - Atlantic League (AtL)
Atlantic League: The city of High Point (NC) broke ground on its new stadium that is to become home to the new Atlantic League to start play next season. The league's dormant Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish is reported to be relocating to High Point.
Coastal Plain League: The Lexington County (SC) Blowfish of the summer-collegiate CPL will be renamed the Lexington County Pancakes when the team plays the league's newest team called the Macon (GA) Bacon during the 2018 season.
Southwest League of Professional Baseball: The proposed new Southwest League is preparing to close on a ballpark site in Royse City (TX), which is one of three locations already announced for the new league. The league plans to announce three additional Texas markets next month and wants to start play in 2019 with six teams. Two Texas-based teams called the Waco BlueCats and Royse City Griffins, along with a yet-to-be-named Joplin (MO) team, have already been announced.
Liga Norte de Mexico: Northern Mexico's baseball league known as the LNM, which is considered the Double-A affiliate of Mexico's top Triple-A Liga de Mexicana Beisbol (LMB), started its 2018 season earlier this month with six teams. The Indios de Tecate replaced the Centinelas de Mexicali for the 2018 season after the Centinelas requested a leave of absence. A team called the Toritos de Tecate played in the 2016 LNM season. The league is considering expansion but would need to add two teams for scheduling purposes. The cities of Guasave (Sinaloa), La Paz (Baja California Sur) and Culiacan (Sinaloa) are said to be under consideration. Each of the six LNM teams are affiliated with two LMB teams.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA's Sacramento Kings announced plans to move its G-League affiliate called the Reno (NV) Bighorns closer to home in Stockton (CA) for the 2018-19 season. The Reno Bighorns started play in the league formerly known as the D-League for the 2008-09 season and entered into a single affiliation with the Sacramento Kings prior to the 2012-13 season. The Kings purchased a controlling interest in the Reno team prior to the 2016-17 season and there had been speculation of a possible move since the purchase.
Big3 League: The BIG3 professional 3-on-3 basketball league, which features eight touring teams consisting of former National Basketball Association players, held a player draft this week for its 2018 season that will start in June. All eight teams called the 3-Headed Monsters, 3's Company, Ball Hogs, Ghost Ballers, Killer 3s, Power, Trilogy and Tri-State will return the league's second season. Each of the eight Friday-night events will feature four games involving all eight teams.
Minor League Basketball Association: The new MLBA started its inaugural 2018 season last weekend with 19 teams aligned in four regional conferences (Mississippi Valley, Red River Valley, Southeast and Northwest). Several MLBA teams like the Alamo City Aztecs, Houston Wolverines, DFW United, Music City Kings, Huntsville Force, Panama City Piranhas, Quad City Flames, Kitsap Admirals and Tacoma Thunder were part of last season's North American Basketball League.
Global Women's Basketball Association: The GWBA recently announced a new team based in West Memphis called the Tennessee Fever will be part of the league's third season in the summer of 2018.
Arena Football League: The AFL started its 2018 season this weekend with four teams called the Baltimore Brigade, Philadelphia Soul, Washington (DC) Valor and the new Albany (NY) Empire expansion team. The league operated with five teams last season, but the Cleveland Gladiators and Tampa Bay Storm did not return for 2018.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF's Dallas Marshals cancelled another home game scheduled for this weekend and the team's future is in doubt. The league stated it is evaluating all options for the team going forward and is expected to make an announcement regarding the team next week. The Marshals' former owner left after last season to start the CIF's new Quad City Steamwheelers team. The Marshals were already forced to cancel a pre-season game and another regular-season home game on March 24.
Legends Football League USA: The women's indoor LFL, which is the 7-on-7 tackle football league that began play in 2009 as the Lingerie Football League, started its 2018 season this weekend with eight teams aligned in four-team Eastern and Western conferences. The 2017 expansion team called the Pittsburgh Rebellion is sitting out the 2018 season as it tries to find a better home venue for a return in 2019. A new team called the Nashville Knights was added to the Eastern Conference to replace Pittsburgh for 2018.
North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced it will add a new team based in the Baltimore suburb of Odenton (MD) for the 2018-19 season. The new Maryland team will be placed in the East Division, which was added to the league for the 2015-16 season.
ECHL: The ECHL's new Portland-based Maine Mariners team will be an affiliate of the National Hockey League's New York Rangers and the Hartford Wolfpack, which is the Rangers' top minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League, when the team starts play in the 2018-19 season. The Greenville (SC) Swamp Rabbits had been the Rangers' ECHL affiliate for the past eight seasons.
Western Provincial Hockey Association: The proposed new WPHA, which will operate as a western Canada division of the U.S.-based Western States Hockey League (WSHL), announced the Edson (Alberta) Aeros as its first team that will be part of the WPHA's first season in 2018-19. The WPHA is trying to start with six to eight teams located in the provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The WSHL operates as a Tier-II junior league under the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union.
League1 Ontario: Last month, the pro-am League1 Ontario announced the teams and schedules in both its men's and women's divisions for the 2018 season that will run from late April through August. The men's division will be entering its fifth season with 17 teams in a single-table format. A full professional team called Unionville-Milliken SC has been added along with the Alliance United FC and Darby FC, while the Durham United takes a hiatus for 2018. The women's division will be entering its fourth season with 13 teams in a single-table format. New teams called the Oakland Blue Devils, Hamilton United Elite and DeRo United FA have been added, while the Sanjaxx Lions team will sit out the 2018 season.
United Soccer League Division-III League: The USL plans to start its Division-III league in March 2019 with 12 to 16 teams and recently visited Charleston (WV), which is under consideration for a possible team. The city has been home to the West Virginia Chaos of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League since 2003. The North Carolina cities of Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Hickory, along with Roanoke (VA), are also part of the USL's five-city tour of more potential markets.
Canadian Premier League: The owners of FC Edmonton, which played the past few seasons in the North American Soccer League before shutting down after the 2017 season, are reported to be considering reviving the team as part of the new professional CPL that plans to start play in 2019. A return of FC Edmonton would need to include proposed renovations and expanded seating to the team's former home at Clarke Stadium.
American Ultimate Disc League: The men's Nashville NightWatch and Atlanta Hustle of the AUDL played this weekend in Nashville and the event included a game between the women's Nashville NightShade AUDL team and a new women's professional ultimate team called the Atlanta Soul. The Atlanta Soul is not affiliated with the Atlanta Hustle or the AUDL at this time, but will be playing additional games this summer against AUDL women's teams like the NightShade, the Detroit Mechanix women's team, and the Raleigh Radiance team affiliated with the men's Raleigh Flyers.
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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