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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 11, 2018 - United Soccer League (USL)

BASEBALL

Empire Professional Baseball League: The independent Empire Pro League recently made a couple of team moves prior to the start of its 2018 season next week. The Sullivan Explorers team, which played the past two seasons (2016-17) at the Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake (NY), has been replaced by a second Puerto Rico team called the Aguada Explorers. The Aguada Explorers join the league's Puerto Rico Islanders team, which played as a travel-only team in the 2017 season. The Islanders found a home for the 2018 season in Rincon (PR), which is a short distance from Aguada on the western side of the island. The new 2018 team called the Delaware Bucks that was supposed to play in Georgetown (DE) is now called the New York Bucks and based in the far northern New York State town of Canton.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball League of Canada: The owner of the NBL-Canada's Niagara (Ontario) River Lions is involved in organizing the proposed new spring-summer Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL), which plans to start play in May 2019 and announced Niagara as a team location. The Niagara River Lions officially announced that after three seasons in the NBL-Canada the team will moving to the CEBL for that league's inaugural season in 2019.

Global Women's Basketball Association: The GWBA started its third season this week with six teams listed in the standings, but only five teams on the schedule. The Chicago Breeze, Flint Monarchs and Milwaukee Aces have returned from last season and are joined by new teams called the Indianapolis Bandits (Indy Bandits), St. Louis Hoopville Warriors (O'Fallon, IL), also listed as the Illinois Warriors. A proposed new team called the Tennessee Fever (Jackson) is listed in the standings but not on the league schedule that runs through mid-August 2018.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new Philadelphia area team called the West Chester (PA) Wildcats has joined for the league's 2018-19 season. The ABA has had several Philadelphia-based teams over the years, most recently the Philadelphia Cannons in the 2017-18 season.

FOOTBALL

Alliance of American Football: The proposed new springtime AAF officially announced Birmingham (AL) as its seventh 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, Salt Lake City and San Diego. One additional market is expected to be announced in the near future.

XFL: The proposed springtime XFL, which plans to start play in 2020 with eight teams, has announced a league commissioner and has identified about 30 potential markets. Some of these markets under consideration include St. Louis, Houston, San Antonio and Los Angeles.

Canadian Football League: A group called Maritime Football Limited is trying to bring a tenth CFL team to Canada's Atlantic region by 2020 or 2021. It looks like Halifax (Nova Scotia) is the group's first choice as it works on trying to build a new 25,000-seat stadium for the team. The CFL commissioner visited Halifax in February 2018 and recently toured Moncton (New Brunswick), which hosted some CFL regular-season game in the past and could also be involved with an Atlantic Canada team, possibly hosting the team until a Halifax stadium is ready or hosting pre-season games and training camp for a Halifax team.

American Arena League: The Vermont Bucks (Burlington) team, which dropped out of the AAL just prior to the start of the 2018 season, could return next season under new ownership but it is not clear which league the team will try to join. The Vermont Bucks played the 2017 season as part of the Can-Am Indoor Football League, but the team's owner stepped away from the team and another ownership group never moved forward with the proposed 2018 AAL team.

HOCKEY

North American Hockey League: The Topeka (KS) RoadRunners of the Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced the team's new name is the Topeka Pilots. The name change was a result of the team coming under new ownership after the 2017-18 season by the group that owns the ECHL's Kansas City Mavericks. The RoadRunners came to the city when the Santa Fe RoadRunners were relocated for the 2007-08 season.

Southern Professional Hockey League: The SPHL's new Quad City team participated in an expansion draft this week as it prepares for its inaugural season in 2018-19.

United States Premier Hockey League: The independent USPHL will return to Dyer (IN) with a team called the Midwest Blackbirds as part of the USPHL Premier division for the 2018-19 season. A former USPHL team called the Illiana Blackbirds had played out of Dyer, but has been dormant for the past two seasons. The USPHL Premier division's Ironwood (MI) Fighting Yoopers team has been sold and relocated to Isanti (MN) as the Rum River Mallards for the 2018-19 season.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The Division-II USL announced a New Mexico team based in Albuquerque will be added for the 2019 season. The team will play home games at the baseball stadium used by the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The city's Premier Development League team called the Albuquerque Sol, which has been around for five years and was trying to build a 10,000-seat stadium for a move up the USL, hopes to become a feeder program for the new USL team. The founder of the Sol recently left the team to be part of the USL effort. The USL application for the San Diego-based 1904 FC has been rejected because the team does not meet certain league requirements. The 1904 FC was originally announced as a 2018 expansion team in the North American Soccer League, which did not play in 2018 after losing its Division-II status. The 1904 FC also had not progressed on a proposed 10,000-seat modular stadium that was to be constructed for the team.

Canadian Premier League: The new professional CPL announced two more teams called the Valour FC, based in Winnipeg (Manitoba), and FC Edmonton (Alberta). The ownership of the FC Edmonton, which had been part of the North American Soccer League until shutting down after the 2017 season, decided to restart the team as part of the new CPL. The CPL plans to start play in 2019 with eight teams and recently announced four other teams for Halifax (Nova Scotia), York (Ontario), Calgary (Alberta) and Victoria (British Columbia).

North American Soccer League: The NASL, which was denied a continuation of its Division-II status by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) prior to the 2018 season, was seeking an expedited court schedule for its lawsuit against the USSF and Major League Soccer in order to possibly save its 2019 season schedule. A judge's decision was made this week for discovery to end on April 30, 2019, so the court case would not get underway until the fall of 2019 and put the 2019 NASL season, and possibly the 2020 season, in jeopardy. The NASL was down to three teams called the Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC and New York Cosmos, which all have 2018 teams playing in the elite amateur National Premier Soccer League. The USSF recently rejected a $500 million offer by the owner of the New York Cosmos for the USSF to revive the NASL.

United States Arena Soccer League: The FC Amarillo is trying to organize the new USARL with teams in Texas and the Midwest starting play in the spring of 2019. Last week, the team played its final USARL exhibition game for this year against a team called FC Lubbock. The two teams also played a USARL exhibition game in late April.

Liga Mexicana Futbol Rapido Profesional: Mexico's professional indoor soccer league known as the LMFR-Pro started its 2018 season last month with ten teams aligned in a four-team Occidente (West) conference and a six-team Norte (North) conference. A former LMFR team called Saltillo Rancho Seco, which last played two seasons (2014-16) in the Major Arena Soccer League before selling off its franchise rights, has returned to the LMFR and is part of the 2018 Norte conference.

OTHER

Major Series Lacrosse: Canada's Ontario-based indoor Senior-A MSL started its 2018 season late last month with the same six teams as last season. Teams include the Brampton Excelsiors, Brooklin Redmen, Cobourg Kodiaks, Oakville Rock, Peterborough Lakers and Six Nations Chiefs (Hagersville). The season runs through July and the MSL champion plays the champion of the British Columbia-based Western Lacrosse Association for the Mann Cup.

Western Lacrosse Association: Canada's British Columbia-based indoor Senior-A WLA started its 2018 season last month and it features the same seven teams as last season - the Burnaby Lakers, Coquitlam Adanacs, Langley Thunder, Maple Ridge Burrards, Nanaimo Timbermen, New Westminster Salmonbellies, and the Victoria Shamrocks. The season runs through July and the WLA champion plays the champion of the Ontario-based Major Series Lacrosse for the Mann Cup.

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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