Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
June 4, 2018 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: The independent Pacific Association, which has all teams based in northern California, started its 2018 season this week and has grown from four to six teams. The four teams from last season called the Pittsburg Diamonds, San Rafael Pacifics, Sonoma Stompers and Vallejo Admirals all returned, while the league added two expansion teams called the Napa Silverados and the Martinez Clippers. The Pacific Association has been around since the 2013 season.
Southern League: Minor League Baseball has granted approval for the Mobile BayBears of the Double-A Southern League to relocate to Madison (AL) in the Huntsville area. The team will start in Madison for the 2020 season and play at a new ballpark that will break ground next week. The Huntsville Stars played in the Southern League until the team moved to Biloxi for the 2015 season. The Mobile BayBears joined the Southern League when the Port City Roosters (Wilmington, NC) moved to Mobile for the 1997 season.
Texas League: With the move of the Double-A Texas League's San Antonio Missions to a new ballpark in Amarillo for the 2019 season, officials with the new Amarillo team announced a list of five potential nicknames for the team. These names include the Boot Scooters, Bronc Busters, Jerky, Long Haulers and Sod Poodles. The San Antonio Missions name will stay in San Antonio next season with the relocation and renaming of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox team of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
International League: A revised financing plan to fund a new stadium for the Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox of the Triple-A International League has been proposed in an effort to keep the team in the city and replace the oldest stadium in the league. The new plan features less risk to the city and the state. Other markets have expressed interest in acquiring the team, but stadium plans have yet to come forward.
Pioneer League: The city of Pueblo (CO) has developed a funding plan for a proposed new downtown ballpark that could become home to a relocated team in the short-season Rookie-level Pioneer League. The city has asked the developer for a formal business plan before approval of any funding moves forward.
Northwoods League: The Bismarck (ND) Larks of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League were renamed the Bismarck Bismarcks for a game on June 1, 2018 to celebrate National Donut Day.
National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada plans to a add a new team in Sudbury (Ontario) called the Sudbury Five for the 2018-19 season. The league operated with five-team Central and Atlantic divisions in the 2017-18 season with teams based in Ontario and the Maritimes region of Canada. A league meeting was being held this weekend to finalize plans for next season.
Women's Minor League Basketball Association: The WMLBA announced a Fort Worth-based team called the Texas Elite has been added for the 2018 season that starts later this month.
North of the Border Basketball League: Canada's advanced division of the men's NBBL recently started its 2018 season with six teams called the 519, Grizzlies, Space Jam, Spurs, Switchin' Clips and Wellness Clinic. The NBBL also has a recreational division of teams and all league games are played at Mohawk College in Hamilton (Ontario).
Alliance of American Football: The proposed new springtime AAF officially announced San Diego will be its sixth team location. The AAF plans to start play with eight teams in February 2019 and previously announced teams for the markets of Atlanta, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Two more markets are expected to be announced in the near future.
Indoor Football League: Although the city of Tucson appears to be looking for an Arena Football League team to play at the local arena, the IFL also has expressed interest in the Tucson market since it would be a natural rival for its Arizona Rattlers (Phoenix) team. The IFL is still trying to find new ownership for its Cedar Rapids (IA) Titans team whose current owner decided not to operate the team after this season.
National Arena League: The six-team NAL has registered the Nashville Kats as the potential name of a future team to be announced. A Nashville-based team was reported to be close to playing in the 2018 season of the NAL but decided to wait another season. The original Arena Football League had two versions (1997-2001 and 2005-07) of teams called the Nashville Kats. More recently, a team called the Nashville Venom played two seasons (2014-15) in the former Professional Indoor Football League.
Elite Indoor Football: The EIF recently announced a new team called the Mississippi Storm will start play in Jackson as part of the league's 2019 season.
Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League: The Colorado-based Tier-III junior-level RMJHL, which operated under the sanctioning of USA Hockey, has disbanded after only three seasons (2015-18). The league operated with six teams for its inaugural season and with only five teams the past two seasons. At least one team called the Steamboat Wranglers (Steamboat Springs, CO) plans to join the junior-level Western State Hockey League for the 2018-19 season.
North American Hockey League: The Topeka (KS) RoadRunners team in the Tier-II junior-level NAHL came under new ownership after the 2017-18 season and it now plans to announce a new team name next week. The team came to the city when the Santa Fe RoadRunners were relocated for the 2007-08 season.
National Hockey League: The NHL commissioner stated the proposed new Seattle expansion franchise could be voted on this fall. The potential Seattle ownership group still has to complete the renovation of KeyArena and is seeking approval for a team to start play in the fall of 2020. The New York Islanders are moving forward on a new 18,000-seat arena at Belmont Park, but it is not expected to open until the 2021-22 season. Starting with the 2018-19 season, the Islanders are expected to split home games between its most recent fulltime home at Brooklyn's Barclays Center and its former home at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
Major League Soccer: MLS officially announced the FC Cincinnati, which currently plays in the Division-II United Soccer League, has been added as the next expansion team and the league's 26th franchise. MLS is playing with 23 teams this season and FC Cincinnati will start play in 2019. MLS franchises granted to Nashville and Miami will start play in 2020 or beyond. The "FC" in FC Cincinnati has changed from the Spanish version "Futbol Club" to the German version "Fussball Club" in recognition of the city's German heritage. FC Cincinnati will continue to play at the 40,000-seat Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati campus until its new 21,000-seat soccer stadium in completed in 2021. The league would like to grow to 28 teams but no timeline on future expansion was given. Sacramento and Detroit are frontrunners for future teams with San Diego, San Antonio and Phoenix under consideration.
Canadian Premier League: The new professional CPL announced a team has been granted for Vancouver Island (British Columbia) and it will be based in the Greater Victoria area. The CPL plans to start play in 2019 with eight teams and recently announced three other teams for Halifax (Nova Scotia), York (Ontario) and Calgary (Alberta).
Women's Professional Lacrosse League: The new WPLL started its inaugural 2018 season this weekend with five teams called Baltimore Brave, New England Command, New York Fight, Philadelphia Fire and Upstate Pride (Albany, NY). The league will play a total of nine regular-season games with playoffs starting in mid-July. The former commissioner of the United Women's Lacrosse League (UWLX), which started play in 2016, is the organizer of the WPLL.
National Pro Fastpitch: The NPF started its 2018 season last month with five teams that will play from mid-May to mid-August. Of the six teams from last season, the Texas Charge (San Marcos) and Scrap Yard Dawgs (Houston) did not return, while the Akron Racers were replaced by the Cleveland Comets and an Australian travel team called the Aussie Spirit was added. The Chicago Bandits, USSSA Florida Pride (Viera) and a China national team called the Beijing Shougang Eagles returned for the 2018 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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