Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 10, 2018 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Pacific Coast League: The mayor of Wichita (KS) announced the New Orleans Baby Cakes team in the Triple-A PCL will be relocating to Wichita for the 2020 season when a new stadium is to be completed for the team. Wichita's current baseball stadium, which has been home to the Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association since the 2008 season, will be demolished and replaced with a new stadium that could be ready for the 2020 season. The future of the Wichita Wingnuts is uncertain at this time. Wichita had an affiliated Wichita Wranglers team in the Double-A Texas League that moved to Northwest Arkansas (Springdale) for the 2008 season. The owner of the New Orleans Baby Cakes is expected to purchase and relocate a yet-to-be-announced Double-A Southern League team to New Orleans and keep the Baby Cakes team name. New Orleans joined the PCL when the Denver Zephyrs relocated to become the New Orleans Zephyrs for the 1993 season. The team was renamed the Baby Cakes for the 2017 season.
International League: A Worcester (MA) city council committee has endorsed plans for the city to borrow funds to build a new 10,000-seat stadium for the Worcester Red Sox, which will be the relocated Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox of the Triple-A International League. The team hopes to start play in Worcester for the 2021 season.
Southern League: The Rocket City Trash Pandas was the name selected for the Double-A Southern League team that will start play in the Huntsville (AL) suburb of Madison for the 2020 season. The city is building a new stadium for the league's Mobile BayBears team that will be relocated. "Rocket City" is a space-travel reference for the region and "Trash Pandas" is a reference to raccoons. ThunderSharks, Moon Possums, Space Chimps and Comet Jockeys were other choices in the nickname voting.
Texas League: The group bringing a Double-A Texas League team to Amarillo recently announced the new stadium being built for the team will be ready for the start of the 2019 season. The league's longtime member called the San Antonio Missions will relocate to Amarillo under a new name. The San Antonio Missions will live on as the name of a relocated Triple-A Pacific Coast League team in 2019.
Midwest League: Two investor groups have come forward with plans to purchase the Beloit (WI) Snappers of the low Class-A Midwest League and build a new stadium by the 2020 season. Minor League Baseball (MiLB) gave the Snappers a deadline of January 31, 2019, to make significant progress toward a new stadium that meets Major League Baseball and MiLB standards or risk losing the team.
Frontier League: The owner of the Normal (IL) CornBelters of the independent professional Frontier League is again considering a move of the team to a non-professional summer-collegiate league, such as the Prospect League or Northwoods League. The owner considered similar options after the 2017 season, but decided to remain in the Frontier League for 2018.
East Coast Basketball League: The semi-pro ECBL announced teams called the C-Port Trojans (Savannah, GA) and the South Carolina Allstars (Greenville) have been released by the league for the 2019 season due to a failure to meet league standards. Both teams had been part of the ECBL since the league's inaugural season in 2015. The C-Port Trojans played as the Savannah Storm until changing its nickname prior to the 2018 season.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced teams called the Los Angeles Smooth and the Quad City Flames (Spanaway, WA) have been added for the upcoming 2018-19 season. The ABA has had a few Los Angeles-based teams in the past. The Quad City Flames were part of the Northwest Conference in the 2018 season of the springtime Minor League Basketball Association.
Indoor Football League: The IFL announced the Quad City Steamwheelers (Moline, IL) team, which was a 2018 expansion team in the league known as Champions Indoor Football, has joined the IFL for the 2019 season. As part of the IFL, the Steamwheelers will have more regional competition with the league's Iowa Barnstormers (Des Moines), Green Bay Blizzard and the soon-to-be-renamed Cedar Rapids (IA) Titans. A previous team called the Quad City Steamwheelers played in all ten seasons (2000-09) of the former arenafootball2 (af2), which was a minor league to the original Arena Football League.
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 is relocating to Florence as the Carolina Havoc for the 2019 season.
Elite Indoor Football: The lower-level EIF league has announced several new additions for its third season in 2019. Some of the new teams include the High Point (NC) Wildcats, Mass Militia (Hathorne, MA), Central Florida Hurricanes (Kissimmee) and Georgialina Lions (Augusta, GA).
National Hockey League: The group trying to bring an NHL expansion team to Seattle recently added additional local investors. The plan is to have a new Seattle team start play for the 2020-21 season after reconstruction of the city's KeyArena is completed.
North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II North American Hockey League, started its 2018-19 season this weekend with 37 teams in 6 regional divisions. The league operated with 42 teams last season, but the Roc City Royals (Rochester, NY) folded and the entire six-team East Division of teams left for the United States Premier Hockey League. The NA3HL added two new teams called the new Rochester (NY) Rivermen and the Butte (MT) Cobras, who had purchased the league's Glacier Nationals (Havre, MT) team. The La Crosse (WI) Freeze was renamed the Coulee Region Chill and the Rochester (MN) Ice Hawks became the Rochester Grizzlies. The Point Mallard Ducks (Decatur, AL) were sold and relocated to become the Milwaukee Power.
Major League Soccer: As the MLS expansion effort in Miami tries to lock down a site for a new 25,000-seat soccer stadium, the franchise officially announced the team will be called the Club Internacional de Futbol Miami with "Inter Miami" as a shortened version. A proposed new stadium for the new Nashville MLS expansion team was given final approval and the stadium is expected to open in 2021.
United Soccer League: The head of the Ottawa Fury FC in the Division-II USL has said there is no truth to rumors the team will be leaving the USL for the new Canadian Premier League (CPL) that is expected to start play in 2019. The CPL has announced seven teams and there were rumors that the Ottawa Fury FC would be the CPL's eighth team. The Ottawa Fury FC has committed to the USL for 2019, but will see how the CPL develops and possibly reconsider it in the future. The Ottawa Fury played three seasons (2014-16) in the dormant North American Soccer League before switching to the USL in 2017.
United Soccer Leagues Division-III League: The former Division-II United Soccer League team called Orlando City B, which was the USL affiliate of Major League Soccer's Orlando City SC Lions for two seasons (2016-17) before sitting out the 2018 USL season, will become a charter member of the new USL Division-III league that will start in 2019. The team will be owned and operated by the MLS Orlando City SC. The Orlando City SC was a member of the former Division-III USL PRO league for four seasons (2011-14) until the organization was granted an MLS expansion franchise for the 2015 season. The Orlando USL PRO franchise was transferred to Louisville in the renamed USL for 2015. The MLS Orlando City SC then started its own USL team called Orlando City B for the 2016 season.
National Independent Soccer Association: The proposed new NISA has formally petitioned the United States Soccer Federation for Division-III status as a men's professional soccer league. The NISA plans to start in the fall of 2019 and play a European-type schedule with fall and spring schedules and an off-season during the summer. It is uncertain at this time which teams will be participating in the NISA.
National Lacrosse League: The indoor professional NLL announced its 2018-19 season schedule that will feature 11 teams aligned in a six-team Eastern Division and a five-team Western Division. Each division added an expansion team for the 2018-19 season with the Philadelphia Wings to the Eastern Division and the San Diego Seals to the Western Division. The Vancouver Stealth came under new ownership in the off-season and will be announcing a new team name in the near future. Each NLL team will play an 18-game season from December 1, 2018 to April 20, 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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