Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
July 23, 2018 - Pioneer League (PL)
Pioneer League: When the Helena (MT) Brewers of the advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League move to Colorado Springs next season, the team will get a new name. Five finalists for the new name include the Rocky Mountain Oysters, Colorado Springs Happy Campers, Colorado Springs Lamb Chops, Colorado Springs Punchy Pikas or Colorado Springs Throttle Jockeys. The owner of the league's Orem (UT) Owlz has apparently decided not to move the team to a proposed new ballpark that was to be built for the team in Pueblo (CO).
Midwest League: The Beloit (WI) Snappers of the low Class-A Midwest League need to find investors for a new ballpark by a September 2018 deadline. The team's current field is outdated and has received several waivers from Minor League Baseball to remain in operation. If the deadline is not met, the next step would be to put the team up for sale.
South Atlantic League (SALLY): The Charleston (SC) RiverDogs of the low Class-A SALLY league will be renamed the Charleston Boiled Peanuts for a game later this month as a tribute to the popular cultural food in the area. The league's Asheville (NC) Tourists were renamed the Asheville Hippies for a game this past week. This name was also used as part of promotion last season.
New York-Penn League: The Vermont Lake Monsters of the short-season Class-A NYPL will play a game next month as the Vermont Maple Kings in tribute to the Vermont maple sugaring industry.
Florida State League: As part of a "What Could Have Been Night" promotion, the Clearwater Threshers of the high Class-A FSL will play a game next month as the Clearwater Beach Dogs, which was one of the proposed nicknames when the team underwent a name change in 2004.
Southwest League of Professional Baseball: An group in Fort Worth is trying to save LaGrave Field, which was home to a former independent baseball team called the Fort Worth Cats, and the proposed new Southwest League has expressed interest in the market for one of its six teams. The Southwest League has already announced three Texas markets and one Missouri market with two more cites to be named. LaGrave Field has sat vacant since the Fort Worth Cats last season ended in 2014.
Northwoods League: The Green Bay Bullfrogs of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League plan to undergo a name change as part of a move to a proposed new stadium.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The proposed new CEBL, which plans to start its inaugural spring-summer season next year with six teams, announced its sixth team to be based in Abbotsford (British Columbia) and will be called the Fraser Valley Bandits. The five other announced teams will be the Saskatchewan Rattlers, Edmonton (Alberta) Stingers and the three Ontario-based teams called the Guelph Nighthawks, Niagara River Lions and Hamilton Honey Badgers.
American Basketball Association: The Vancouver Dragons (Richmond, British Columbia) team, which recently won the championship of the inaugural 2018 Minor League Basketball Association spring-summer season, will be part of the 2018-19 ABA season. The Dragons will replace the ABA's former Vancouver Balloholics that played two seasons (2014-16) in the league.
National Arena League: Although it has yet to be approved by the NAL, a New York City-based indoor football team called the New York City Streets states that it is a 2019 NAL expansion team and has been holding tryouts. Last month, the NAL acknowledged receipt of a New York application but that no new 2019 teams have yet to be approved.
American Arena League: The owner of the AAL's Richmond Roughriders has confirmed the team is likely to leave the city due to proposed demolition and replacement of the Richmond Coliseum. The team owner has visited arenas in Hershey (PA) and Norfolk (VA) and plans to visit other arenas in Scranton (PA), Reading (PA) and Atlantic City (NJ) with a relocation announcement sometime next month.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF recently stated the league will be announcing a 2019 expansion team next week.
Federal Hockey League: The lower minor professional FHL officially announced this week the addition of a 2018-19 expansion team for Elmira (NY). The city last had the Elmira Jackals team that played seven seasons (2000-07) as part of the former United Hockey League and ten seasons (2007-17) in the ECHL before shutting down after the 2016-17 season. Four FHL teams called the Watertown (NY) Wolves, Carolina Thunderbirds (Winston-Salem, NC), Port Huron (MI) Prowlers and Danville (IL) Dashers are expected to return from last season and a sixth team based in Ohio is expected to be announced in the near future. Two other teams from last season called the North Shore Knights (Kingsville, Ontario) and the Cornwall Nationals, which was replaced by a league-operated Northern Federals near the end of the 2017-18 season, will most likely not return in the 2018-19 season.
USA Central Hockey League: The new Wichita Falls (TX) team in the proposed Texas-based junior-level USA-CHL announced it will be called the Wichita Falls Force when the league starts its inaugural 2018-19 season this fall. Twisters, Rustlers and Flyers were other popular nickname choices. The USA-CHL plans to play with six teams and two other teams called the Laredo Bucks and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (Hidalgo, TX) have already been announced.
United Soccer League: The D.C. United of Major League Soccer will add a new 2019 Division-II USL expansion team to be called the Loudoun United FC. The new team is expected to play in a proposed 5,000-seat stadium to be built in Loudoun County (VA). A once-proposed Loudoun County stadium was to be home to an independent Atlantic League baseball team called the Loudoun Hounds and a soccer team called the Virginia Cavalry FC of the now-dormant North American Soccer League. The stadium was originally set to open in 2011, but financing fell through and it was never built. The new Memphis-based USL expansion team for next season will announce its team name on September 1, 2018. City officials in Spokane (WA) are proposing a new downtown stadium that could become home to a future USL team, or possibly a team in the new Canadian Premier League. A group in Cleveland is trying to start up a new USL team to be called the Cleveland Force. The team is still looking for a home venue and could start play in 2020. Although Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew FC could be moving to Austin, the Austin-based USL expansion effort is moving forward and plans to announce its name in next month.
Major League Soccer: A new stadium proposal for the MLS expansion team in Miami will be put before voters on a November ballot. Apparently, the Miami team must begin the stadium construction no later than October 2019 as part of its expansion agreement with the MLS. The Miami MLS expansion group says it is close to making an announcement on the team nickname.
Canadian Premier League: The proposed new professional CPL announced its seventh team will be called Pacific FC and will based on Vancouver Island near Victoria (British Columbia). The CPL plans to start its inaugural season in 2019 with eight teams and has previously announced six other teams called the Cavalry FC (Calgary, Alberta), FC Edmonton (Alberta), Forge FC (Hamilton, Ontario), HFX Wanderers (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Valour FC (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and York 9 FC (York Region, Ontario).
National Lacrosse League: The indoor professional NLL held its expansion draft this week for two new teams called the Philadelphia Wings and San Diego Seals that will start play in the 2018-19 season.
Major League Rugby: The Canadian rugby club known as the Ontario Arrows, which recently completed a successful seven-game exhibition season in 2018 that included games against MLR teams, announced it has obtained the exclusive negotiating rights for an Ontario MLR team that is expected to start play in the 2019 season. The professional MLR recently completed its inaugural season with seven teams. Other markets like New York City, Los Angeles and Washington (DC) have announced teams that could also start teams in 2019.
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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