Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 30, 2018 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League started its 2018 season this week and again has eight teams aligned into a four-team Liberty Division and a four-team Freedom Division. The Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish ceased operations after the 2017 season and were replaced in the Liberty Division with the Road Warriors travel team. A new team in High Point (NC) is expected to start play next season and should eliminate the need for the Road Warriors team.

Empire League of Professional Baseball: The independent Empire Pro League has finalized the six teams for its upcoming 2018 season that will run from mid-June to mid-August. The four teams from last season called the Old Orchard Beach (ME) Surge, Plattsburgh (NY) RedBirds, Sullivan Explorers (Loch Sheldrake, NY) and the Puerto Rico Islanders travel team will return for 2018. The league has added two new teams called the New Hampshire Wild (Concord) and the Delaware Bucks (Georgetown) for the 2018 season. The league operated a New Hampshire Wild (Rindge) team in 2016 and a Bucks team called the Watertown (NY) Bucks also played in the 2016 season.

Southwest League of Professional Baseball: The new Joplin (MO) team in the proposed new SWL announced the team will be called the Joplin Miners. Tornadoes, Twisters, 66ers, Jacks and Phoenix were other names under consideration. A previous minor league baseball team called the Joplin Miners played from 1902 to 1954. The SWL plans to start play in 2019 with six teams, five of which will be based in Texas. The Royce City Griffins and Waco BlueCats have already been announced and the league says it will announce the other three teams by July 1, 2018.

Pacific Coast League: The New Orleans Baby Cakes team in the Triple-A PCL will be renamed the New Orleans Crawdaddy's for a game next week after the name of a fictional team that is part of the "Brockmire" cable show.

Prospect League: The city of Clarksville (TN) could become home to a future team in the summer-collegiate Prospect League as city officials consider building a new sports complex. A potential ownership group plans to purchase a league franchise and relocate it to Clarksville, if ballpark plans move forward.

Northwoods League: The sale has been finalized for land in Hudson (WI) that was once a dog track and the site will house a new development to include a ballpark for a future team called the St. Croix River Hounds in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League

BASKETBALL

North American Premier Basketball: The eight-team NAPB is finishing up its inaugural 2018 season and announced last month a team called the Ohio Bootleggers (Columbus), which was part of the 2017 Premier Basketball League and was announced as a 2018 team in the North American Basketball League's Midwest Division, had taken over the Ohio market from the league's Ohio Cardinals (Akron) team. In February, the ownership of the league's Vancouver Knights (British Columbia) moved to Ohio where the Ohio Bootleggers took over the Knights' schedule. The Ohio Cardinals then left the league and the Ohio Bootleggers/Knights took over the Cardinal's won/loss record and remaining schedule, while the Vancouver Knights team was sold to new ownership to finish out the season. The NAPB plans to expand to at least 12 teams next season and lists Raleigh, Bellevue (WA), San Diego and Tampa as future markets.

Women's Minor League Basketball Association: A schedule has been posted for the WMLBA's second season that will be played in June and July. Of the six teams from last season, the San Antonio Troopers, Houston Galaxy, Dallas Lightning and Carolina Stars have returned. A new team called the Georgia Classic (Evans) has been added and a team called the Flight is listed for only few 2018 games. Two teams from last season called the Midwest Reign (Kansas City, KS) and the Tennessee Storm (Jackson) are not listed on the 2018 schedule.

FOOTBALL

Champions Indoor Football: The CIF announced the Dallas Marshals team with a 1-5 record has ceased operations and will not complete the 2018 season. The team joined the CIF for the 2016 season as the Mesquite Marshals and was renamed the Dallas Marshals for the 2017 season. After the 2017 season, the owner of the Marshals left to form another CIF team called the Quad City Steamwheelers and the team's Mesquite arena came under new ownership that led to the Marshals moving to a different arena in Dallas for 2018. The loss of Dallas leaves the CIF with a four-team South Conference and a six-team North Conference, so there has been talk of moving a North team to the South. The CIF also announced the West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) will be the league's first expansion team for the 2019 season. A West Michigan Ironmen team was part of the CIF's 2017 season and an attempt to move the team to the Indoor Football League (IFL) for the 2018 season was blocked by a court decision. The team then came under new ownership and played in 2018 as part of the regional Midwest Professional Indoor Football before announcing a return to the CIF in 2019.

Alliance of American Football: The proposed new springtime AAF announced Atlanta will become home to the league's second franchise. The AAF recently announced Orlando as its first franchise location and plans to announce six additional markets over the coming weeks. A team in Southern California is expected to be one of the next six markets.

HOCKEY

Eastern Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level EHL has announced some new teams for the 2018-19 season. The Connecticut Chiefs purchased the EHL franchise previously held by the Connecticut Oilers and moved the team to a facility in Newington where it will have a team in the top-level EHL and the EHL Premier division. New EHL teams called the NC Force Golden Bears (Raleigh) and the Charleston (SC) Mariners have also been added.

ECHL: A trademark application was made for the "Newfoundland Growlers", which is expected to become the name of the ECHL's new 2018-19 franchise in St. John's (Newfoundland). Originally, the Regiment, Shamrocks and Storm were three nicknames said to be under consideration, along with other outside suggestions such as the Capitals/Caps or Maple Leafs.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL dropped from ten to nine teams this season with the loss of the FC Kansas City Blues and Boston Breakers and the addition of the Utah Royals FC. The league is considering expansion in 2019 and the FC Barcelona club wants to form a Los Angeles area NWSL expansion team in Santa Monica. FC Barcelona could be partnering with Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC (LAFC) for a new NWSL team.

Evergreen Premier League of Washington: The elite men's amateur EPLWA, which has all teams based in the state of Washington, will be starting its 2018 season next weekend with nine teams. The league had eight teams aligned in one table last season, but it added the new Tri-Cities Alliance (Kennewick) and has gone to a three-team divisional alignment with divisions called Coastal, Cascade and Columbia. Also, the South Sound FC Shock (Tacoma) has become the Washington Premier FC (Puyallup) for the 2018 season.

Major Arena Soccer League: The new MASL team to be based in Kissimmee (FL) announced it will be called the Orlando SeaWolves when it starts play for the 2018-19 season. Several other suggested names included the Cobras, Lasers, Majestics, Oranges, Renegades, Roar, Sleeping Tigers and Suns.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The outdoor or field lacrosse MLL started its 2018 season last weekend and again has nine teams aligned in one table. The only change from last season was the Rochester (NY) Rattlers relocating to Frisco (TX) to become the Dallas Rattlers for the 2018 season. The MLL announced it will be holding its 2018 league championship at a neutral site in Charleston (SC), which is under consideration for MLL expansion. The past league championships held in the Dallas and Atlanta areas have led to MLL teams being placed in those markets. The MLL season runs to the first week of August.

American Ultimate Disc League: The women's AUDL team associated with the men's Detroit Mechanix team of the semi-pro AUDL has been named the Detroit Riveters. The Riveters plan to play four to six games this season. Other women's AUDL teams called the Nashville NightShade and Raleigh Radiance are affiliated with men's AUDL teams called the Nashville NightWatch and Raleigh Flyers. Two other women's ultimate teams called the Indy Red (Indianapolis) and Atlanta Soul have been formed, but as of now are not affiliated with the men's AUDL teams in those markets.

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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