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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 4, 2018 - NBA G League (G League)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: A group in Jefferson City (MO) is trying to build a new ballpark for an independent Frontier League expansion team to be called The Wanted. The league had a team called the Mid-Missouri Mavericks that played three seasons (2003-05) in nearby Columbia.

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: The ownership of the San Rafael Pacifics of the six-team Northern California-based Pacific Association has put the team up for sale and hopes new local ownership could keep the team alive in the city. The San Rafael Pacifics started in 2012 and have been part of the Pacific Association since the league was organized for the 2013 season.

Atlantic League: There is no agreement in place for an Atlantic League to return to the vacant Surf Stadium in Atlantic City (NJ) for the 2019 season. The owner of the league's Long Island Ducks team is behind the effort and a return in 2020 is still a possibility. A team called the Atlantic City Surf was part of the Atlantic League from 1998 through the 2006 season and the Can-Am League from 2007 through the 2008 season before folding.

Northwoods League: The finance committee in Waukesha (WI) has given initial approval for a new 2,500-seat ballpark that could become home to a future team in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League.

Coastal Plain League: A group wants to place a summer-collegiate CPL team in Mint Hill (NC) near Charlotte, if the town approves plans for a new 2,500-seat ballpark.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The G-League announced its schedule and alignment for the 2018-19 season that will feature 27 teams. An Eastern Conference will have a five-team Atlantic Division, a five-team Central Division and a four-team Southeast Division, while a Western Conference will have a four-team Midwest Division, a four-team Southwest Division and a five-team Pacific Division. The league had 26 teams last season, but added an expansion team called the Capital City Go-Go (Washington, DC) as the league tries to reach 30 teams, one team affiliated with or owned by an NBA team. Only three NBA teams - the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans do not have their own G-League affiliation. Other changes for the 2018-19 season include the Delaware 87ers becoming the Delaware Blue Coasts after moving from Newark (DE) to a new arena in Wilmington (DE), and the Reno Bighorns moving to become the Stockton (CA) Kings after spending ten seasons (2008-18) in Reno.

National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada will remove its Central Division and Atlantic Division alignment for its ten teams in the 2018-19 season and align all teams in one table for the standings. For the past few seasons, the Central Division has included Ontario-based teams while the Atlantic Division included teams from provinces considered to be Atlantic Canada. To balance the divisions at five teams apiece last season, the new St. John's Edge (Newfoundland) agreed to be placed in the Central Division with the league's four Ontario-based teams for one season. With the addition of the expansion Sudbury Five (Ontario) for 2018-19, the Central Division was to go back to five Ontario teams with the Edge moving to the Atlantic Division, but the Niagara River Lions left the league after the 2017-18 season again leaving only four Ontario-based teams.

East Coast Basketball League: The semi-pro ECBL announced teams called the Carolina Chosen Lions (Rocky Mount, NC) and the Fayetteville (NC) Panthers will be added for the league's 2019 season. A team called the Fayetteville Crossover played in the league's first two seasons (2015-16). The ECBL plays a springtime schedule.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced another new team called the Central Jersey Sharks has been added to the league for the upcoming 2018-19 season. The Sharks are expected to be a natural rival for the ABA's longtime member the Jersey Express.

FOOTBALL

National Gridiron League: The proposed new 12-team indoor NGL named two more teams called the Virginia Destroyers (Norfolk) and the Pennsylvania Pioneers (Wilkes-Barre) for its inaugural 2019 season. The NGL had officially announced three other teams called the Virginia Iron Horses (Roanoke), Indiana Firebirds (Evansville) and Kansas Kapitals (Topeka). Seven other teams called the St. Louis Stampede, Indiana Blue Bombers, Georgia Wildcats, Louisiana Red Sticks, Mississippi Mudcats, Arkansas Twisters and Texas Bighorns are listed, but exact details still need to be announced for those teams.

American Arena League: The Austin Wild, which was a travel-only affiliate team of the 2018 AAL, announced it would not be part of a proposed an AAL West Division in 2019. The AAL's 2018 travel-only team called the Peach State Cats has found a home in Athens (GA) for the 2019 season. The AAL held its 2018 All-Star game last weekend in Florence (SC), which will be the new home for the AAL's Atlanta Havoc team that it relocating to Florence as the Carolina Havoc for the 2019 season.

Professional Arena Football: The founder of the Richmond Roughriders team, which played the 2018 season as part of the American Arena League, has announced the new league called Professional Arena Football (PAF) that will start play in March 2019. As of now, the PAF includes the previously announced league called Northern Arena Football (NAF) as a northern division with the New England Cavalry (Hooksett, NH) and the new Southern Arena Football (SAF) as a southern division that lists the Richmond Roughriders. The PAF would like to have four to eight teams in each division with additional teams to be announced in the future. Another division could also be added. The Richmond Roughriders are still looking for a new home since its home arena could be torn down by the end of this year.

Alliance of American Football: The proposed new outdoor springtime AAF announced training camp for its inaugural 2019 season in January will involve all eight teams holding camps in San Antonio.

HOCKEY

Southern Professional Hockey League: The head of the new Quad City Storm (Moline, IL) team in the SPHL stated the first season in the league will be a challenge due to a lack of commitment from local companies. The Storm replaced the higher-level ECHL team called the Quad City Mallards that folded after the 2017-18 season.

Eastern Hockey League: The EHL, which will be one of three Tier-III junior level leagues in the 2018-19 season, has grown from 16 to 19 teams across 4 divisions. The Connecticut Oilers were purchased and became the Newington-based Connecticut Chiefs, while three new teams called the North Carolina Golden Bears (Raleigh), Team Maryland and Lehigh Valley Rebels were added. The league also operates the EHL Premier league that will have 13 teams in 2 divisions. The 2018-19 season starts next weekend.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: The Division-II USL's expansion team for Memphis announced it will be called the Memphis 901 FC when it starts play in the 2019 season. The name refers to the region's area code.

United Soccer Leagues Division-III League: The recently announced Chattanooga team in the new USL Division-III league announced five potential nickname choices: Sporting Chattanooga, Chattanooga Express, Chattanooga Generals, Chattanooga Ironhorses or Chattanooga Red Wolves.

National Women's Soccer League: The Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer recently announced the club would not be moving forward with developing a women's professional team in the NWSL. Current NWSL teams called the Houston Dash, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns and Utah Royals are operated by MLS teams in those markets. The NWSL's Carolina Courage (Cary, NC) is operated by the owner of the North Carolina FC from the men's Division-II United Soccer League and there have been discussions about other USL owners developing future NWSL expansion teams in their markets.

National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite amateur-level NPSL confirmed it is considering its options for the launching of a new professional league with an expanded season. The league recently held its annual meeting and at least 14 of the NPSL's current teams expressed interest in the new pro league.

U.S. Premiership: The lower-level professional American Soccer League (ASL) has merged with the new national U.S Premiership soccer league that will make its official start in 2019. The ASL will serve as the U.S. Premiership's North East Conference in 2019 with at least six teams called the Philadelphia Fury, Maryland Suresports, Philadelphia Atoms, Junior Lonestar, Super Green FC Maryland and New York Jabloteh. The U.S. Premiership plans to have 50 teams nationwide and a current map has the United States split into six regional conferences: North West, Mid West, North East, Mid Atlantic, West, South West and South East. Some of the other teams listed as members include the Bay Area Hurricanes (Houston), Florida Raptors (Fort Lauderdale), Sporting Hartford Rising Stars, FC Union (Southern California), Liga Estudiantes del Guayas, Orange County Black Eagles, Fort Pierce Panthers, Houston Fury, Gold Star Academy and Medford Cougars FC.

OTHER

American Ultimate Disc League: There has been some talk of teams in the South Division of the men's AUDL all forming affiliated women's teams for competition next season. There were six semi-pro women's ultimate teams that participated in a loose schedule of games in 2018. These included the Detroit Riveters, Nashville NightShade and Raleigh Radiance teams that were affiliated with the men's AUDL teams in those markets. The women's Austin Torch received some support from the local men's AUDL team, while the Indy Red (Indianapolis) and Atlanta Soul women's teams were not affiliated with AUDL teams. The new Upwind Ultimate women's league, originally announced as the National Ultimate League last summer, has organized to increase the value of women in ultimate. Upwind Ultimate organizes local tournaments and U.S. tours for international teams.

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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