Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
July 9, 2018 - Prospect League (Prospect)
Southwest League of Professional Baseball: The proposed independent SWL, which plans to start play with six teams in the spring of 2019, announced its fourth team will be based in Dallas (TX). A new multi-purpose stadium has been proposed for the site of a current park in downtown Dallas and the team has started a name-the-team contest. The SWL previously announced three of its six teams will be the Joplin (MO) Miners, Waco (TX) BlueCats and Royse City (TX) Griffins. The two remaining SWL teams are to be announced by the end of this month.
Empire Professional Baseball League: The independent EPBL started its 2018 season last month and has grown from four to six teams. The Old Orchard Beach (ME) Surge, Plattsburgh (NY) Redbirds and Puerto Rico Islanders, a previous travel team now based in Rincon (PR), returned from last season. Last season's Sullivan (NY) Explorers were replaced by a second Puerto Rico team called the Aguada Explorers. Two new teams called the New Hampshire Wild (Concord) and the New York Bucks (Canton) were added for 2018. The Bucks were originally announced as the Delaware Bucks (Georgetown) but were moved just prior to the 2018 season. The EPBL had a New Hampshire Wild team based in Rindge for the league's inaugural 2016 season. The EPBL teams play a 70-game schedule from mid-June to mid-August.
Prospect League: The Kokomo (IN) Jackrabbits of the summer-collegiate Prospect League announced the team will be switching to the summer-collegiate Northwoods League for the 2019 season. The Prospect League will be adding a new Cape Girardeau (MO) team called the Cape Catfish for the 2019 season.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The new Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) team that will be one of six teams in the proposed new CEBL announced it will be called the Saskatchewan Rattlers when the league starts play in May 2019. Three Ontario-based teams called the Guelph Nighthawks, Niagara River Lions and Hamilton Honey Badgers, along with the Edmonton (Alberta) Stingers, have already been named. The CEBL's yet-to-be-named sixth team will be based in Fraser Valley (Abbotsford, British Columbia). Saskatoon has been home to previous minor professional basketball teams called the Storm (1990-92), the Slam (1993-94) and the Hawks (2000-01).
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA's Portland Trail Blazers are considering placing its affiliated G-League team in Vancouver (British Columbia). The Trail Blazers, the Denver Nuggets and the New Orleans Pelicans are the only remaining NBA teams without some sort of ownership interest or one-to-one affiliation with a G-League team. The NBA had the Vancouver Grizzlies for six seasons (1995-2001) until the team was relocated to Memphis for the 2001-02 season.
Universal Basketball Association: The owner of a team called the Gwinnett Majic, which once played in the defunct World Basketball Association, is restarting the team as the Indy Majic (Indianapolis) in the 2018-19 season of the men's UBA. The UBA also announced the addition of the East Houston United team for the 2018-19 season.
American Arena League: Although the Atlanta Havoc recently won the inaugural AAL championship, the team's future is uncertain due to ownership and arena issues.
Champions Indoor Football: The Bloomington (IL) Edge, which sat out the 2018 CIF season after a court blocked the team's attempt to move to the Indoor Football League, played its first game of a six-game independent summer season this weekend against the Rockford (IL) Rams of the semi-pro Indoor Football Association. The Edge has yet to officially announce what league it will play in for the 2019 season.
Southern Professional Hockey League: The SPHL announced its 2018-19 season schedule this week that will again feature ten teams aligned in a single-table format. The Mississippi RiverKings (Southaven) will not return from last season, but the league added the new Quad City Storm (Moline, IL).
North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced its alignment and schedule for the 2018-19 season that will feature 24 teams aligned in 4 regional six-team divisions (Central, East, Midwest and South). The league added one new team called the Maryland Black Bears and the Topeka RoadRunners were renamed the Topeka Pilots. Two teams changed locations, as the Philadelphia Rebels relocated to become the Jamestown (NY) Rebels and the Coulee Region Chill (La Crosse, WI) was sold and became the Chippewa Steel (Chippewa Falls, WI).
USA Central Hockey League: The proposed Texas-based junior-level USACHL officially announced its third team will be based in Wichita Falls (TX) when the league starts its inaugural 2018-19 season. A contest will be held to name the team. The USACHL will start with six teams and two other teams called the Laredo Bucks and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (Hidalgo, TX) have already been announced.
Canadian Hockey League: The three major-junior hockey leagues (Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) that comprise the CHL all recently announced their 2018-19 schedules and alignment. The 20-team OHL will remain the same with 4 five-team divisions (East, Central, Midwest and West). The 22-team WHL will remain the same with 2 six-team divisions (East and Central) and 2 five-team divisions (U.S and B.C.). The 18-team QMJHL will remain the same with 3 six-team divisions (East, West and Maritimes).
United Soccer Leagues Division-III: The team called Toronto FC II, which is owned and operated by the Toronto FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) and has been part of the Division-II United Soccer League for the past four seasons (2015-18), will switch to the new USL Division-III league that will start play in 2019. The Orlando City Lions of MLS operated an affiliated USL Division-II team called Orlando City B for the 2016 and 2017 seasons before sitting out this season and might return with a developmental team in the USL Division-III league. The new USL Division-III league expects to announce some additional teams over the next several weeks.
Canadian Premier League: The proposed new professional CPL is interested in the suburban Toronto market of Mississauga, which will be studying the feasibility of a new stadium that could become home to a future CPL team. The CPL plans to start play in 2019 with six teams, five of which have been announced, and the sixth team is scheduled to be announced next week.
National Lacrosse League: Although there had been rumors about the Rochester Knighthawks possibly moving to Halifax (Nova Scotia), the Knighthawks' management stated the team is not moving and will remain in Rochester for the 2019 season.
Interstate Box Lacrosse Association: The men's senior-level IBLA will be expanding this summer from two to six Senior-A leagues and from one to two Senior-B leagues. The IBLA will have a Senior-A Regional Box Lacrosse League (RBLL) in Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New England and Ohio, and a Senior-B RBLL in Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. Each regional Senior-A RBLL will have two to four teams playing a short season in July and August with RBLL champions participating in a national tournament in Lakeville (MN). The Senior-B RBLL teams will play in August and September with the two RBLL winners participating in a championship series in Denver in October 2018. Some of the Senior-A team names are the Cincinnati Flying Pigs, Columbus Crows, St. Louis Centurions, River City Blue Cats (St. Louis), Denver Otters, Parker Rangers, Mile High Stars, Fort Collins Night Owls, Hastings (MN) Walleye, Lakeville (MN) Lumberjacks and Minneapolis Wheat Kings.
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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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.