Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
August 6, 2018 - XFL (XFL)
Pioneer League: Pueblo County (CO) has officially ended planning for a proposed 5,000-seat baseball stadium in the city of Pueblo that was to become home to the relocated Orem (UT) Owlz of the advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League. The owner of the Orem Owlz had planned to move the team to Pueblo for the 2020 season, but the deal fell through.
American Association: The St. Paul Saints of the independent AA will play a game later this month as the St. Paul Guttural Uff Das as a tribute to the state of Minnesota's Scandinavian roots. The Uff Da is a Norwegian interjection used to express surprise or astonishment.
New York-Penn League: The Lowell (MA) Spinners of the short-season Class-A NYPL could be affected by a possible future move of the Triple-A International League's Pawtucket Red Sox to a proposed new stadium in Worcester (MA), which is only about 35 miles from Lowell.
National Urban Professional Baseball League: The low-level independent NUPBL started its inaugural 2018 season in June with four teams called the Rube Foster All-Stars, Josh Gibson All-Stars, Lester Barclay All-Stars and Vickie Pasley All-Stars all playing games out of Wooten Field in Laurel (MS), just southeast of Jackson. In late June, the league reported it would keep playing despite a lack of sponsorships, but there has been little information as to whether the 2018 season continued. The NUPBL was targeting African-American communities and players, although it was not limited to just African-American players. Original plans were to have four teams based in Millington (TN), Jackson (MS), DeSoto (TX) and Lancaster (TX) for the 2018 before the league switched to all games being played in Laurel.
Major League Baseball: The commissioner of MLB mentioned last month a list of possible future expansion markets to include Nashville, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Portland (OR), Montreal, Vancouver. In addition, some locations in Mexico would be under long-term consideration.
Universal Basketball Association: The men's semi-pro UBA recently announced a new Nebraska-based Heartland Division and a new Oklahoma-based Great Plains Division to be added for the 2019 season. The eight-team Heartland Division is to include the Omaha Cutterz, Nebraska Rampage, Midwest Ballers, Metro Big Bully, Lincoln Soul, Bellevue Titans, Grand Island Dragons and North Platte Disciples. The eight-team Great Plains Division is to include teams called the Oklahoma Lightning, Oklahoma Mountain Cats, Oklahoma Stampede, Oklahoma Bisons, Oklahoma Redwolves, Oklahoma Vipers, Oklahoma Stallions and Oklahoma Gold.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The new six-team CEBL announced it will hold a player showcase next month as it prepares for its inaugural season that will start in May 2019. The CEBL's Niagara River Lions team, which played the past three seasons at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines (Ontario) as part of the National Basketball League of Canada, has reached a multi-year lease with the arena. The lease allows the River Lions to be the exclusive basketball partner at the Meridian Centre and basically shuts out a proposed new team the NBL-Canada was planning to operate in its upcoming 2018-19 fall-winter season as a replacement for the departed River Lions. The new CEBL will be playing a spring-summer season.
American Basketball Association - GOLD League: The proposed ABA GOLD, which has been billed as a pro enhancement league to showcase current elite ABA players, has postponed the start of league-play due to issues with the venue that was to be home to all league games. The league plans to update the schedule and anticipates starting play in a couple of weeks. The ABA GOLD had eight teams called the Atlanta Hotballers, Baltimore Sparks, Chicago Wind, DFW Power, LA Superstars, New York Empires, Orlando Splash and San Diego Floaters that were to play a schedule running from August 4 to September 29, 2018 with all games to be played in Las Vegas.
American Arena League: A team called the Carolina Havoc, which operated as the Atlanta Havoc in the AAL's 2018 season, officially announced it has signed a one-year lease to play in Florence (SC) as part of the AAL's 2019 season. The Atlanta Havoc won the 2018 AAL championship, but had issues with its arena in Buford (GA) where the team played only a handful of games in 2018. The city of Florence in conjunction with the Carolina Havoc will host the AAL 2018 All-Star Classic game later this month.
Champions Indoor Football: The Bismarck (ND) Bucks of the CIF are deciding whether to return to the CIF or possibly move to the Indoor Football League for the 2019 season. The Bismarck Bucks joined the CIF as a 2017 expansion team.
Elite Indoor Football: The owner of the New England Bobcats team, which was based in Billerica (MA) near Lowell for the 2018 EIF season, is planning to move the team to the American Arena League for the 2019 season. The EIF's Western Maryland Warriors (Frederick) team is not expected to return to the league for 2019 and could move to the Mid-Atlantic Indoor Football League.
XFL: The proposed springtime XFL football league, which plans to start play in February 2020, plans to announce a list of cities for potential teams later this month. The XFL was considering Oakland and the Oakland Coliseum for a team, but it appears the venue will not be available due to interference with preparing the field for the baseball season of Major League Baseball's Oakland A's.
Federal Hockey League: The new FHL expansion team based in Elmira (NY) will be called the Elmira Enforcers when it starts play in the upcoming 2018-19 season. The city had the Elmira Jackals in the ECHL until the team folded after the 2016-17 season. The Jackals nickname was under consideration for the new FHL team, but the ECHL retained rights to that name. The Elmira Gliders came in second as a potential team name. The FHL recently announced the schedule for the 2018-19 season that will feature six teams each playing 58 games. The league will play two neutral-site games in Battle Creek (MI), which is under consideration for an FHL expansion team for 2019-20.
Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey: Canada's minor professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, recently announced plans to add a team in Berlin (NH) for the 2018-19 season. Berlin would become the league's sixth team and the first and only team in the United States. The LNAH had six teams last season, but the Draveurs Trois-Rivieres team will not return. The ownership of a former Federal Hockey League called the Berlin River Drivers, which played two FHL seasons (2015-17) before dropping out mainly due to travel costs, is organizing the new LNAH team. The Berlin team tried, but was unable to join the LNAH prior to last season. A proposed name for the team at that time was the Berlin Blackjacks.
Canadian Women's Hockey League: The interim CWHL commissioner would like to find a way to merge the league with the National Women's Hockey League to create one premier women's league. Both leagues currently have different salary structures. The non-profit CWHL is going into its 12th season and has a total of seven teams located in the United States, Canada and China, while the NWHL is entering its third season with five teams located in the United States.
United Soccer League: Although the ownership of Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew FC is trying to move the team to Austin for the 2019 season, the ownership of Austin's Division-II USL expansion effort is moving forward and announced the new USL team will be called the Austin Bold FC when it starts play at a new 5,000-seat stadium in the 2019 season. A team called the Austin Aztex last played as part of the USL during the 2015 season when the league was a Division-III league. The Aztex went on hiatus as it tried to find a new home venue.
Major League Soccer: The MLS commissioner stated the league has not yet set a specific timetable for adding two more expansion markets to reach a total of 28 teams, but he would like the league to be fully expanded by 2026. The MLS currently has 23 participating teams with Cincinnati, Nashville and Miami as the next three markets. Sacramento, Phoenix and Detroit appear to be the frontrunners, but the Raleigh and Charlotte markets in North Carolina are still in the mix. The new owner of the National Football League's Carolina Panthers has expressed interest in bring an MLS team to Charlotte, while the owner of the North Carolina FC (Cary) in the United Soccer League is still trying to build an MLS-style stadium in Raleigh for an expansion team.
United Soccer Leagues Division-III League: The new USL Division-III announced the sixth of its new founding teams will be based in Chattanooga (TN) when the league starts play in 2019. The league recently held a meeting with 11 potential teams and the additional teams are to be announced over the coming weeks and months. The five other previously announced USL Division-III teams include Madison (WI), Greenville (SC), FC Tucson (Tucson, AZ), South Georgia Tormenta (Statesboro) and the Toronto FC II. The new Chattanooga-based USL Division-III team is not affiliated with the Chattanooga FC, which has played the past ten seasons (2009-18) in the lower-level National Premier Soccer League. The Chattanooga FC had considered moving up to Division-III status as part of the proposed National Independent Soccer Association, but that league has not been able to get off the ground.
National Lacrosse League: With the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks taking over ownership of the NLL's Vancouver Stealth earlier this summer, an announcement on a new name for the team is expected in September around the time of an NLL player combine in Vancouver. The NLL is adding two expansion teams called the Philadelphia Wings and San Diego Seals for the 2018-19 season to operate with 11 teams. The league commissioner wants to add two more new teams for the following season and possibly two more teams for the season after that.
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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XFL Stories from August 6, 2018
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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