Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
August 27, 2018 - Indoor Football League (IFL)
International League: The recently announced move of the Triple-A International League's Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox (PawSox) to Worcester (MA) for the 2021 season still has to be approved by the league and by Minor League Baseball, but Worcester is moving forward on plans to build a new stadium for the PawSox. The city of Pawtucket has to consider what will become of its 10,000-seat McCoy Stadium. One businessman talked of bringing a short-season Class-A New York-Penn League team to Pawtucket, but getting approval would be difficult since Pawtucket would be in Worcester's territory. A team in an independent league could be an option, but the stadium capacity is large for an independent team.
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League recently completed its 2018 season and announced it will return with 12 teams in 2019. The three divisions (Mountain, Pacific and Southern) of four teams each will be replaced by six-team Mountain and Pacific divisions. The Pecos League's fall developmental/prospects league called the Hudson River League will again be based in Houston starting in November. There are currently plans for four teams called the Salina Stockade, Houston Apollos, Coastal Kingfish and the Lyndhurst Blacksox.
American Association: The future of the Wichita Wingnuts in the independent American Association is uncertain since its home stadium is to be torn down after this season. The city has approved funding for a replacement stadium to be built, but city officials want to make the new ballpark contingent on obtaining an affiliated team. If the Wingnuts remain an option for the new stadium, they could temporarily play next season as a travel team or on the campus of Wichita State University.
Northwoods League: The Green Bay Bullfrogs of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League announced seven potential names for the team that is being rebranded as it moves to a new ballpark for the 2019 season. The Green Bay nickname finalists are Booyah, Cheese Curds, Old Fashioneds, Supper Clubbers, Tailgaters, Under Dogs and Wurst. Council members in the Milwaukee suburb of Pewaukee have given initial approval for a proposed baseball complex that would include a 2,500-seat ballpark for a possible team in the Northwoods League.
Prospect League: After 11 seasons (2008-18) of play, the Butler (PA) BlueSox team is leaving the summer-collegiate Prospect League. The team was the league's easternmost member and faced additional travel costs. The team is said to be considering a move to the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League. Another Prospect League team called the Kokomo (IN) Jackrabbits announced last month it was leaving for the Northwoods League next season.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The G-League held a player draft to stock its lone expansion team for the 2018-19 season called the Capital City Go-Go (Washington, DC).
Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: The LNBP, Mexico's top professional basketball league, recently announced the schedule and team lineup for its 2018-19 season. Last season, the league had 11 teams aligned in one table but after losing a team and adding 4 more, the league will have 14 teams aligned in seven-team North (Zona Norte) and South (Zona Sur) divisions. The Toros de Nuevo Laredo will sit out the 2018-19 season, but the Huracanes de Tampico will return after sitting out last two seasons and three new teams called the Laguneros de Torreon, Angeles de Puebla and Lenadores de Durango were added.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced another new initiative called ABA International Tours (ABA IT) that will arrange international tours of ABA teams to foreign markets as well as foreign teams touring U.S. markets. These tours will take place during April to October in the ABA's off-season.
Indoor Football League: The IFL announced a new expansion team will be added in Tucson for the 2019 season. The Tucson team is expected to be a natural rival for the league's Phoenix-based Arizona Ratlers. The addition of Tucson puts the league at seven teams and the league is expected to try to add at least one more team by next season. When funding was first announced for local arena renovations to accommodate an indoor football team, it appeared as though Tucson was considering a team in the Arena Football League. The ownership of the new Tucson team had also considered the league called Champions Indoor Football as a possible option. The IFL's Cedar Rapids (IA) Titans came under new ownership this summer and the team has announced a name-the-team contest as part of a rebranding for the 2019 season. Team names can be submitted until September 5 with the new name to be announced on September 14, 2018.
National Arena League: The ownership of the NAL's Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA) is putting the team up for sale and hopes new local ownership will be able to keep the team in the area. The team has been around since 2011 playing two seasons (2011-12) in the Indoor Football League, two seasons (2013-15) in the Professional Indoor Football League, one season (2016) in American Indoor Football and the past two seasons (2017-18) in the NAL.
Northern Arena Football: The owner of the New England Cavalry team, which played as an affiliate and travel team in the 2018 American Arena League season, announced the team will be part of the proposed new NAF. The NAF plans to start play in 2019 with at least six teams based in the Northeast region of the United States. The Cavalry will play home games at a new facility in Hooksett (NH).
Canadian Women's Hockey League: The CWHL's only United States-based team called the Boston Blades is moving to Worcester (MA) and will be known as the Worcester Blades for the 2018-19 season. The league had seven teams last season, but will now operate with six teams after its two teams from Shenzhen (China) called the Kunlun Red Star and the Vanke Rays have combined as the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays for the 2018-19 season.
USA Central Hockey League: The proposed new junior-level USACHL, which plans to start play in the 2018-19 season as a non-tuition league with four Texas-based teams, announced its fourth team will be called the Texas Lawmen and based in McAllen. Apparently the league was waiting on interests at two other locations but moved forward with McAllen since the start of the season is only two months away. The USACHL previously announced its three other teams called the Wichita Falls Force, Laredo Bucks and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (Hidalgo, TX).
United Soccer Leagues Division-III League: The ownership of the Rochester (NY) Rhinos, a Division-II United Soccer League (USL) team that sat out the 2018 season, has received permission from the USL to join the new USL Division-III league by the 2020 season. The Rhinos plan to vacate the city's Marina Auto Stadium and try to build a new stadium in the region. The USL Division-III league's new Chattanooga team has launched a name-the-team contest with the new name to be announced this fall.
National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level NPSL is considering a new professional division currently referred to as NPSL Pro. The NPSL has lost markets to developing Division-III pro leagues.
National Independent Soccer Association: The proposed new NISA says it will apply to the United States Soccer Federation for Division-III status to start in the fall of 2019. The NISA will play a European-type schedule with fall and spring schedules and off during the summer.
Major League Soccer: The MLS's Columbus Crew SC ownership, which is trying to move the team to a proposed new soccer-specific stadium in Austin (TX), announced the team will be called the Austin FC when and if the move is complete. Austin FC and Austin Athletic were two names trademarked by the MLS last August.
Major League Rugby: As the professional MLR moves toward its second season in 2019, it has entered into negotiations with Lique National de Rugby (LNR), which operates France's Top 14 rugby union league and its lower-level Pro D2 league, for possible collaboration between the LNR and MLR in the future. Some areas could include television, media and player and referee development.
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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