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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 18, 2018 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)

BASEBALL

New York-Penn League: The short-season Class-A NYPL started its 2018 season this week with the same 14 teams as last season aligned into a four-team McNamara Division, a six-team Pinckney Division and a four-team Stedler Division. The league's Staten Island Yankees will play a game later this month as the Staten Island Pizza Rats. This was the nickname selected out of five proposed names as part of a contest back in 2016 when the team was considering a name change.

Pacific Coast League: The Las Vegas 51s of the Triple-A PCL will be undergoing a name change when the team moves next year to a new stadium in suburban Summerlin. The team has registered several possible names and will narrow it to five. Aviators is reported to be a leading choice for the team name.

International League: The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (PA) RailRiders of the Triple-A International League will be renamed the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Teddy Bears for a game later this month that will feature a fan's teddy bear toss for sick children in the area.

Southern League: With the eventual move of the Mobile BayBears to Madison (AL) near Huntsville for the 2020 season, a name-the-team contest has been started. The team is first asking how fans want to identify the team as Alabama, Huntsville, Madison, North Alabama or Tennessee Valley.

Pioneer League: A name-the-team contest has been announced for the Helena (MT) Brewers team of the advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League that will be moving to Colorado Springs next season. The current Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League will be moving to San Antonio next season. The Colorado city of Pueblo is still debating a proposed new stadium that it hopes will become home to a future Pioneer League team.

American Association: Groundbreaking was held last week for the new stadium near Milwaukee in Franklin (WI) that will house a new American Association team in the 2019 season. The league's St. Paul Saints will be renamed the St. Paul Raccoons for a game later this month as a promotion based on media coverage of recent raccoon activity in the area.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball League of Canada: Although the NBL-Canada's Niagara (Ontario) River Lions left the league after three seasons to join the new spring-summer Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) for its inaugural season starting in May 2019, the NBL-Canada reports it plans to have new ownership in place for a 2018-19 team in the Niagara/St. Catharines area. The NBL-Canada's most recent season ran from mid-November 2017 to early April 2018, so its fall-winter season would not overlap the CEBL season.

Canadian Elite Basketball League: The proposed new CEBL, which plans to start play in May 2019 with six teams, now lists its Hamilton (Ontario) team as the Hamilton Honey Badgers. The only other named team as of now is the Niagara River Lions (Ontario) that moved from the National Basketball League of Canada. The CEBL confirmed there will be another Ontario-based team in Guelph, along with three western teams in Edmonton (Alberta), Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) and Fraser Valley (Abbotsford, British Columbia).

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a team called the Delaware Bucket Bullies has been added for the 2018-19 season.

FOOTBALL

XFL: The proposed springtime XFL is considering Oakland (CA) for one of its eight teams when the league restarts in 2020. The original XFL had a Bay Area team called the San Francisco Demons for the league's only season in 2001.

Canadian Football League: The CFL started its 2018 season this week with same nine teams as last season aligned in a five-team West Division and a four-team East Division. Each team plays 18 games in a schedule that runs into the first week of November. The league is trying to add a fifth team to the East Division with the Atlantic Canada region under consideration for the next expansion team.

Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional: Mexico's professional American football league known as the LFA finished its third season in April 2018 with six teams aligned in three-team Centro (Central) and Norte (North) divisions. The Norte included the Dinos de Saltillo, Fundidores de Monterrey and the Raptors de Mexico, while the Centro had three Mexico City-based teams called the Condors, Mayas and Mexicas, which changed from the Eagles in 2018. Teams played seven games from mid-February to late April.

HOCKEY

North American Hockey League: The Philadelphia Rebels of the Tier-II junior-level NAHL will be moving to Jamestown (NY) for the 2018-19 season. The team will replace a Jamestown-based Tier-III team called the Southern Tier Xpress, which played the past four seasons (2014-18) in the NAHL's affiliated North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL). The Southern Tier Xpress, along with most of the other teams in the 2017-18 NA3HL East Division, had been planning a move to the United States Premier Hockey League's Tier-III Premier division, but the Xpress franchise is expected to be taken back by the NA3HL. A previous team called the Jamestown Ironmen played two seasons (2011-13) in the NAHL.

ECHL: The ECHL's expansion Newfoundland Growlers (St. John's) announced the team will be affiliated with the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs and its American Hockey League Toronto Marlies affiliate when the team starts play in the 2018-19 season. The Orlando Solar Bears, the ECHL affiliate of the Maple Leafs and Marlies for the past five seasons (2013-18), will remain in the league and are expected to announce a new 2018-19 NHL affiliation agreement later this summer.

Western States Hockey League: The West Sound Warriors (Bremerton, WA) of the Amateur Athletic Union/United Hockey Union's Tier-II junior-level WSHL will not return for the 2018-19 season, but the league has found an owner to operate a new Bremerton-based team called the West Sound Admirals that will start play in the 2018-19 season. The league's Vancouver (WA) Rangers had just moved to become the West Sound Warriors for the 2017-18 season. The WSHL's Colorado Junior Eagles team is moving from Fort Collins to Greeley where the team will now be called the Northern Colorado Eagles. The Steamboat Wranglers (Steamboat Springs, CO) team, which played the past two seasons (2016-18) in the now-defunct Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League, has come under new ownership and will join the WSHL for the 2018-19 season.

Western Provinces Hockey Association: The proposed new WPHA, which will operate as a six-team western Canada division of the U.S.-based Tier-II junior-level Western States Hockey League starting with the 2018-19 season, has announced some more locations and team names. Three Alberta province teams called the Maskwacis Attack, Slave Lake Dragons and Hinton Wildcats, along with the Saskatchewan-based Meadow Lake Mustangs were recently added. The WPHA had previously announced the Edson Aeros (Alberta), while another Alberta team in Cold Lake has yet to be named.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The Detroit MLS expansion bid is sticking with using Ford Field, home of the National Football League's Detroit Lions, rather than build a new soccer-specific stadium that the league would favor. The Austin city council is considering a proposed new MLS stadium proposal being made by the ownership of the league's Columbus Crew SC. The Crew's owner would like to move the team to Austin next season, but it would have to play at temporary location until a stadium is built. The Miami MLS expansion group was granted an extension on making a down payment for a parcel of land at the proposed Overtown stadium site, while the group's top investor is considering a different stadium site on a city golf course near the airport.

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL announced a franchise called the Utica City FC (Utica, NY) will be part of the 2018-19 season and it is a relocation of the league's Syracuse Silver Knights franchise. The Syracuse Silver Knights started in 2011 and played four seasons (2011-15) in the Major Indoor Soccer League and the past three seasons (2015-18) in the MASL. Utica is only about 50 miles east of Syracuse. Former outdoor and indoor soccer player Shep Messing has expressed interest in trying to help revive the Rochester Lancers MASL franchise, which last played in the MASL's 2014-15 season before sitting out due to the high cost of state workman's compensation insurance. Messing had considered starting a New York team at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, but it would have been too costly.

OTHER

National Lacrosse League: The indoor NLL is interested in adding an expansion team in Halifax (Nova Scotia) for the 2019-20 season, but the new Canadian team could be a relocation of the league's current Rochester Knighthawks team as early as next season. There has also been discussion of the Knighthawks being sold and continuing to operate in Rochester under the ownership of the league's Buffalo Bandits, while the Knighthawks' owner would run the new Halifax expansion team. The NLL has reportedly registered the Halifax Privateers as a possible name for the new team. Also, the owner of the NLL's new San Diego Seals 2018-19 expansion team recently took control of the National Basketball Association's Brooklyn Nets and has expressed interest in adding a New York NLL team, possibly based on Long Island at the recently renovated Nassau Coliseum.

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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