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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 23, 2018 - Pacific Coast League (PCL)

BASEBALL

Pacific Coast League: The Las Vegas 51s of the Triple-A PCL announced the team will adopt a new nickname when it moves to a new stadium currently under construction in the suburb of Summerlin. The team was known as the Stars from 1983 through the 2000 season before it took the 51s nickname. The PCL started its 2018 season earlier this month with the same 16 teams as last season aligned into American and Pacific conferences each with four-team Northern and Southern divisions.

International League: The Louisville Bats of the Triple-A International League will play a game next month as the Louisville Mashers in a tribute to the city's history as a producer of bourbon. The league started its 2018 season earlier this month with the same 14 teams aligned in a six-team North and four-team West and South divisions. The only change was the Gwinnett (GA) Braves being renamed the Gwinnett Stripers for the 2018 season.

Texas League: With the relocation of the Double-A Texas League's San Antonio Missions to Amarillo next season, the new Amarillo team will take on a new name and a name-the-team contest has been announced. San Antonio will become home to the relocated Colorado Springs SkySox of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and that team will retain the San Antonio Missions name. The Texas League started its 2018 season this month with the same eight teams aligned in four-team North and South divisions. The two other Double-A leagues also started their 2018 seasons this month. The 12-team Eastern League remained the same as last season with two six-team Eastern and Western divisions. The ten-team Southern League also remained the same as last season with two five-team North and South divisions.

Major League Baseball: The potential ownership group of an MLB team in Portland (OR) has contacted the city about two potential new stadium sites. MLB has expressed interest in expanding once teams in Tampa Bay and Oakland have settled their stadium issues and Portland has been mentioned as a possible expansion city. Financing a Portland stadium might be difficult if public funds are required.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): After announcing last week the move of its Reno (NV) Bighorns G-League affiliate to Stockton (CA), the NBA's Sacramento Kings announced the relocated team will be renamed the Stockton Kings when it starts play in the 2018-19 season. Other changes for next season include the move of the G-League's Delaware 87ers to a new facility in Wilmington as the renamed Delaware Blue Coats and the addition of the new Capital City Go-Go team, which will be the affiliate of the NBA's Washington Wizards based in Washington (DC).

Global Women's Basketball Association: The GWBA has posted the schedule for its third season that will run from early June to mid-August 2018 and feature six teams each playing ten games. The teams include the returning Chicago Breeze, Flint Monarchs and Milwaukee Aces, along with new teams called the Indianapolis Bandits, St. Louis Hoopville Warriors (O'Fallon, IL) and the Tennessee Fever (Jackson).

FOOTBALL

Champions Indoor Football: The CIF used a travel team of replacement players to substitute for the Dallas Marshals in a game this weekend against the Texas Revolution (Frisco).

American Arena League: The AAL's Triangle Torch team, which had been based in Raleigh as part of two other leagues during the past two seasons, has moved its home about 80 miles south of Raleigh to the Duplin County Events Center in Kenansville (NC) and was renamed the East Carolina Torch. The AAL's Austin Wild travel team had been trying to schedule some non-league exhibition games in the Austin area's H-E-B Center as it tried to become a full AAL member next season. The Wild has cancelled the remainder of 2018 exhibition home games, but will continue to play its remaining road games this season.

Elite Indoor Football: One of the semi-pro EIF's new teams announced for the 2018 season called the Carolina Aviators (Concord, NC) will apparently sit out this season and return in 2019 under new ownership. A team of EIF All-Stars will play a game this summer in Bloomington (IL) against the Bloomington Edge, an indoor team that sat out the 2018 Champions Indoor Football season after a court voided the team's attempt to move to the Indoor Football League for the 2018 season.

The Spring League: The TSL, which is an elite developmental league and scouting event for professional football talent, held its second season earlier this month in Austin. Four teams called East, West, North and South each played two games over the two weekends of the 2018 season. The TSL plans to hold a training event and a showcase game in San Diego in early June 2018.

Women's Football Alliance: The full-tackle WFA started its 2018 season earlier this month and again has three different levels of play. The Division I has a four-team National Conference and a five-team American Conference; the Division II has a nine-team National Conference and a seven-team American Conference; and the Division III has a 22-team National Conference and a 17-team American Conference. Some of the new teams for 2018 include the Knoxville Lightning, San Diego Rebellion, Grand Rapids Tidalwave, Columbus (IN) Vanguards, Savannah Hurricanez, Colorado Freeze, Roswell Destroyers, Wisconsin Dragons, Mississippi Royalty and the Capital City Rage (Sacramento).

Independent Women's Football League: The full-tackle IWFL started its 2018 season earlier this month with an eight-team Central Division and an eight-team Pacific Division. Some of the new IWFL teams for 2018 include the Seattle Majestics, Eugene (OR) Lady Hawks, San Diego Surge and the West Texas Lady Hurricanes (El Paso).

HOCKEY

North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II junior-level North American Hockey League, announced its teams and league alignment for the 2018-19 season that will feature 37 teams aligned in six regional divisions. The league's Butte (MT) Cobras will return after sitting out this past season and the Point Mallard Ducks (Decatur, AL) were sold and moved to Wisconsin as the Milwaukee Power. The NA3HL finished the 2018-19 season with 42 teams, but its entire six-team East Division, which included the Lansing Wolves, Metro Jets (Waterford, MI), Pittsburgh Vengeance, Southern Tier Xpress (Jamestown, NY), Toledo Cherokees and Wooster Oilers, has left the league for the Tier-III Premier Division of the 2018-19 United State Premier Hockey League. The six teams will comprise a new Great Lakes Conference in the USPHL's Premier Division.

ECHL: The ownership of the ECHL's Kansas City Mavericks (Independence) announced the purchase of the Topeka RoadRunners team in the Tier-II junior-level North American Hockey League.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS recently held an owners' meeting, but there was no formal vote on the next round of expansion at this time. The MLS will continue discussions with the three expansion candidates in Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento. The Cincinnati city council recently approved $40 million toward infrastructure for an MLS-style stadium to be built in the city's West End. The MLS expansion team in Miami is looking at an alternate new stadium site in the Doral area of the city.

United Soccer League: The new 2019 USL expansion team planned for Memphis has purchased the Memphis City FC, which played the past two seasons (2016-17) in the National Premier Soccer League. The new Memphis USL team will operate the Memphis City FC in the 2018 season as part of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL). The Memphis PDL team will serve as a player development program for the new USL Memphis team. The city of Hartford (CT) moved closer to obtaining a future USL team after the city council recently approved plans for renovations to the city's Dillon Stadium. An ownership group called the Hartford Sports Group hopes to launch a new USL franchise next spring.

Liga Mexicana de Futbol Rapido: Mexico's professional indoor soccer league known as the LMFR is adding the Saltillo Rancho Seco team, based in the Mexican state of Coahuila, for its 2018 season that starts next month. The Saltillo Rancho Seco played three previous seasons (2011-13) in the LMFR and moved to the U.S.-based Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) for the 2013-14 season. The PASL evolved into the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) for the 2014-15 season and the Saltillo Rancho Seco played two more seasons (2014-16) as part of the MASL before selling off their franchise rights.

OTHER

Major League Rugby: The new professional MLR started its inaugural 2018 season this weekend with seven teams called the Austin Elite Rugby, Glendale (CO) Raptors, Houston SaberCats (originally announced as the Strikers), NOLA Gold (New Orleans), San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves and Utah Warriors (Salt Lake City). The MLR plays under the 15-player "rugby union" format and each team will play eight games through June 2018. The league is planning expansion for next season with the previously announced Rugby United New York and the possible addition of the Ontario Arrows (Toronto) club.

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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Pacific Coast League Stories from April 23, 2018


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