Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
May 14, 2018 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Frontier League: The independent Frontier League started its 2018 season this week with the same 12 teams as last season and again aligned into six-team East and West divisions. The East Division includes the Lake Erie Crushers (Avon, OH), Washington (PA) Wild Things, Traverse City (MI) Beach Bums and three northern Illinois teams called the Joliet Slammers, Windy City ThunderBolts and Schaumburg Boomers. The West Division features the Evansville (IN) Otters, Florence (OH) Freedom, Gateway Grizzlies (Sauget, IL), Normal (IL) CornBelters, River City Rascals (O'Fallon, MO) and Southern Illinois Miners (Marion). The league has been around since 1993 and its season runs until early September.
Atlantic League: The new High Point (NC) franchise that will begin play in the 2019 season of the independent Atlantic League announced the start of a name-the-team contest.
American Association: The proposed new AA team to be based in the Franklin area of Milwaukee has reduced the ten possible farm-themed team names to five: Barn Owls, Crop Dusters, Haymakers, Milk Men and War Pigs. The team is expected to start play in the 2019 season.
International League: The Rochester Red Wings of the Triple-A International League will be renamed the Rochester Hop Bitters for a game later this month as a tribute to a minor-league team by that name in the 1879 and 1880 seasons of the former National Association.
Southwest League of Professional Baseball: Voters in the city of Bellmead (TX) have approved a hotel tax to cover future maintenance for a proposed ballpark to be built for a local team called the Waco BlueCats in the independent Southwest League. The league plans to start play in 2019 with six teams.
Prospect League: The summer-collegiate Prospect League is interested in expanding to markets near some of its easternmost teams located in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Expedition League: The summer-collegiate Expedition League, which plans to start play this summer with eight teams, has expressed interest in adding a team in Grand Forks (ND) for the 2019 season.
United Basketball League: The UBL's 2018 season schedule consists of four sets of "Cluster Games" in which all eight teams participate in four games held at one location from late February to late May. Teams include the Dallas Kings, Fort Worth Toros, Baton Rouge Hurricanes, Baton Rouge Rebels, Louisiana Rouge Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Outlaws, Texas Wranglers and Texas Wranglers 2.0.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced an ownership group plans to operate three new ABA teams based in the state of Washington for the 2018-19 season. These teams will include the Port Angeles Rams, Tacoma Kings and another team yet to be determined. The ABA's 2017-18 expansion team called the Oakland BayHawks team is now called the Oakland TownHawks.
National Basketball Association: A group is trying to bring an NBA franchise to Louisville (KY) and the KFC Yum Center that opened in 2010. Currently, the NBA is not planning to expand and there are no teams looking to relocate.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF has confirmed the semi-pro team called the Texas Power will serve as a replacement team for the Dallas Marshals in two of the Marshals' previously scheduled road games against the CIF's Amarillo Venom and Quad City Steamwheelers.
Fan Controlled Football League: The start of the proposed interactive FCFL, which plans to be the first fan-controlled professional sports league with fans electronically calling plays, has pushed its start back until the summer of 2019. The league plans to start with eight teams playing 7-on-7 indoor football on a 50-yard field with all games played at one location that will be more of a digital studio production for online participation.
American Hockey League: The AHL announced its divisional alignment for the 2018-19 season as it expands to 31 teams that will operate as affiliates for the 31 teams in the National Hockey League. The expansion Colorado Eagles (Loveland) team, which had operated in the lower-level ECHL since the 2011-12 season, has been added to the AHL's Pacific Division, while the San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars have been moved from the Pacific to the Central Division. The league's Cleveland Monsters team was moved from the Central to the North Division. The Pacific Division will have seven teams while the other three divisions (Atlantic, Central and North) will have eight teams. The Colorado Eagles will be affiliated with the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche's previous AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, will now be the affiliate of the NHL's St. Louis Blues, which was the only NHL team without its own AHL affiliate in the 2017-18 season.
Greater Ontario Hockey League: After 36 years in Guelph (Ontario), the Guelph Hurricanes of the Junior-B level GOHL are moving about 15 miles south to Cambridge (Ontario) where the team will become the Cambridge Redhawks for next season. The Cambridge GOHL market became available when the owners of the Cambridge Winterhawks did not renew the team for the 2017-18 season.
Major League Soccer: The ownership of the MLS's Columbus Crew is still working on a move to Austin and is hoping to reach an agreement with the city next month on plans for an MLS-style stadium. The state of Ohio and the city of Columbus have brought suit over the proposed move and the courts have allowed a 90-day pause to allow potential local investors to come forward to possibly keep the team in Columbus. The owner of the United Soccer League's North Carolina FC is moving forward with an attempt to build a 22,000-seat soccer stadium in Raleigh (NC) for a possible MLS expansion team.
North American Soccer League: A proposed meeting with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) to discuss an offer of $500 million to the USSF by the owner of the NASL's New York Cosmos has been cancelled. The Cosmos' owner was hoping to persuade the USSF to grant the NASL a ten-year window to reach certain USSF compliance standards. The NASL is pursuing an antitrust lawsuit against the USSF and Major League Soccer after the USSF withdrew the league's Division-II status.
Canadian Premier League: The new professional CPL officially announced its first named team will be the York 9 FC, which is named for the nine municipalities that make up the York Region of Ontario. The new team has worked out an agreement to play home games at York University as it looks to build a new soccer stadium in the region. The league's new Halifax (Nova Scotia) team plans to build a temporary 6,000-seat stadium on the grounds (Wanderers Grounds) of the Wanderers soccer club and the team is expected to take the Wanderers as its name. The league's new Calgary (Alberta) team is working on a stadium in the Spruce Meadows area. The CPL plans to start play in 2019 with eight teams.
United Soccer League: The owner of Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs will be the majority owner of a new Chicago-based USL franchise that is expected to start play at a proposed new 20,000-seat stadium in the 2019 season. The city is home to the Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer and there is speculation the new USL team could eventually become the USL affiliate of the MLS team.
National Premier Soccer League: A proposed new Akron-based team called Rubber City FC recently announced it will join the men's elite-amateur NPSL instead of the proposed new National Independent Soccer Association, which is trying to start as a Division-III professional league in 2019.
USA Rugby League: The USARL announced a club called Copperheads RLFC will be replacing the Central Florida Warriors (Daytona) in the league's four-team South Conference for the upcoming 2018 season. The Copperheads are expected to be based out of Sarasota (FL). The USARL will again operate an eight-team North Conference for the 2018 season. The Central Florida Warriors had been part of the USARL since the 2014 season. The U.S. Association of Rugby League is the official governing body in the USA for the 13-player rugby league style of play and operates the USARL and the USA national rugby league team called the Hawks.
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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