Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
August 13, 2018 - NBA G League (G League)
Arizona Fall League: Major League Baseball's AzFL announced the schedule and MLB affiliates for its six teams that will be part of the 2018 season starting in October. The AzFL uses six training facilities in the Phoenix area and each team is assigned prospects from five MLB teams. The East Division will feature the Mesa Solar Sox, Salt River Rafters and Scottsdale Scorpions, while the West Division will include the Glendale Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas and Surprise Saguaros.
International League: The owner of the Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox (PawSox) of the Triple-A International League visited Worcester (MA) this week to view a proposed ballpark site as speculation increases that the team could relocate. The team was reported to have registered "WooSox" as a possible name for a Worcester-based team. While legislation for financing a new downtown Pawtucket stadium is being debated, there have been few details about the proposed Worcester stadium. A Worcester team could temporarily play at Fitton Field, which is home to the Worcester Bravehearts summer-collegiate team.
Carolina League: The current Buies Creek Astros of the high Class-A Carolina League will announce its new name on September 12, 2018, as the team moves next season to a new stadium under construction in Fayetteville (NC). The team has played the 2017 and 2018 seasons at Campbell University in Buies Creek as it waited for the stadium to be completed. Possible names for the team are Fatbacks, Fly Traps, Jumpers, Wood Dogs and Woodpeckers.
New York-Penn League: The city of Utica (NY) has proposed a new development that could feature a ballpark built to Minor League Baseball standards for an affiliated team, possibly in the short-season Class-A NYPL. The city had the Utica BlueSox team in the NYPL, but it relocated after the 2001 season. There are currently two NYPL teams up for sale.
Midwest League: The Great Lakes Loons (Midland, MI) of the low Class-A Midwest League will play a game later this month as the Great Lakes Camels to honor one of the team's mascots (Rall E. Camel).
Pacific Association: The San Rafael Pacifics of the Northern California-based Pacific Association played a game this week as the San Rafael Oysters in a partnership with the Hog Island Oyster Company.
Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA, which is affiliated with the men's American Basketball Association, started is 2018 season last weekend with 13 teams listed in a single-table format. The WABA was restarted last summer with seven teams aligned in a four-team North East Division and a three-team South East Division. Teams called the Atlanta Justice and Orlando Splash did not return, but the league added eight new teams called the Atlanta Angels, Cleveland Blaze, Coast Empire Lady Monarchs (Hinesville, GA), Gastonia (NC) Greyhounds, Jersey Shore Riptide, Maryland Dynasty (Middle River), Maryland Jewels (Harford County), and Pittsburgh Steel City Queens. The five returning teams include the DC Cyclones, Georgia Lady Pitts (was Middle Georgia Pits), Jersey Expressions, Long Island Storm and the Mount Vernon (NY) Shamrocks. Teams like the Boston Clovers, Illinois Lady Bulldogs, Chicago Lady Steam and Columbus (GA) Lady Blackhawks were announced, but never made it to the 2018 season. Those teams could join in 2019 along with several other proposed expansion teams like the Lehigh Valley Lady Hunters, Gary (IN) Sun Rays, PG Courage (Prince George County, MD) and the Lady Oracles of Reading (PA). The WABA season runs from early August to early October 2018.
Universal Basketball Association: The men's semi-pro UBA recently announced a new team called the Atlanta Savage will be added to the league's Southern Conference of teams for the 2018-19 season.
National Basketball Association G-League: The new arena under construction in Wilmington for the G-League's Delaware Blue Coats team, which played at the University of Delaware in Newark as the Delaware 87ers for the past five seasons (2013-18), will not be ready for the start of the 2018-19 season. The team will play the majority of early season games on the road, since the 2,500-seat arena is not expected to be ready until mid-December. The Blue Coats are the G-League affiliate of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team called the Topeka (KS) Sizzlers will be part of the upcoming 2018-19 season. A previous team with the same name was part of the former Continental Basketball Association. The ABA had a team called the Topeka Steel that evolved from a 2015-16 ABA team called the Topeka Aviators. The Topeka Steel played as a 2016-17 ABA travel team and ceased operations after playing a few games early in the 2017-18 season.
Arena Football League: The majority owner of the AFL's Philadelphia Soul announced plans to try to add a new AFL team in Atlantic City (NJ). The Soul played a 2015 regular-season game in Atlantic City. A former indoor team called the Atlantic City CardSharks played the 2004 season as part of the defunct National Indoor Football League.
Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey: Canada's minor professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, recently held its player draft for the 2018-19 season. The LNAH will have five returning teams from last season, plus a new team called the Berlin (NH) BlackJacks Many of the players made available for the draft came from the Draveurs de Trois-Rivieres team that will not return for the 2018-19 season.
Interstate Hockey League: The new Michigan-based senior-amateur hockey league known as the IHL, which was planning to start its inaugural 2018-19 season with four previously announced teams, has since added three more teams called the Port Huron Grizzlies, Vehicle City Villains (Flint) and Sanilac Blades (Sandusky). The Blades were created by splitting the Fraser Sharks team (originally the Hadley Nepessings) that had too many players. The league then announced it will start with only six teams after the Fraser Sharks recently merged with the Hartland Vipers (originally announced as the Rochester Vipers) to create the Fraser Vipers team. The IHL plans to eventually grow to 24 teams.
United Hockey League: The proposed new independent minor professional UHL, which was first announced last summer with plans to start play with six teams in the 2018-19 hockey season, is apparently dead before it ever started play. There have been no updates since last fall and the UHL web site is down.
United Soccer Leagues Division-III League: The Greenville (SC) team that will be part of the new USL Division-III league when it starts play in 2019 announced it will be called the Greenville Triumph SC.
Canadian Premier League: The commissioner of the new lower-level professional CPL recently announced the league will most likely start with eight teams instead of the planned ten teams when it begins play in 2019. The CPL has already announced seven teams across Canada and it is working with two or three other markets, one of which is expected to start in 2019. Two other new teams will be added for the 2020 season. The CPL wants to grow to 20-plus teams and split into first and second divisions.
Major League Soccer: Although the ownership of the MLS's Columbus Crew SC is trying to move the team to a proposed new stadium in Austin (TX), the group called "Save the Crew" has developed plans for a proposed new 22,000-seat MLS stadium in Columbus. The new Columbus stadium is based on the premise the MLS team remains in the city under new local investment. The Austin city council postponed a vote this week on the MLS stadium plans proposed by the ownership of the Columbus Crew SC.
Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL's proposed new Toronto-based franchise that was announced a year ago for a 2018-19 expansion team has confirmed the team will play in the 2018-19 season and the team name will be announced next month. The team will be based in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga.
Major League Rugby: After completing its inaugural 2018 season with seven teams, the MLR previously announced plans to add an eighth team called Rugby United New York (New York City) for the 2019 season. The Toronto-based Ontario Arrows and the new LA Coast Rugby club are also under consideration for 2019 expansion. A team in Washington (DC) is looking to start play in the 2020 season.
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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