Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 17, 2018 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
Pacific Coast League: The city of Wichita (KS) has approved funding for a new stadium that will become home to the relocated New Orleans Baby Cakes team in the Triple-A PCL. The new stadium will be built on the site of the city's current Lawrence-Dumont Stadium that will be torn down. The current tenant at the old stadium is the Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association and the remaining term on their ten-year lease will be bought out by the city. The new stadium is expected be completed in 2020.
Major League Baseball: All three political parties in the province of Quebec stated they would consider possible financing options for a new Montreal baseball stadium that could become home to an MLB team.
Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: The Triple-A LMB, which is Mexico's top professional baseball league, announced it will not operate under the two-season format that was tried this year. The first 57-game season ran from late March to late May with a champion crowned after June playoffs. The second 57-game season ran from early July to early September with a champion crowned after playoffs running into October. The 2019 regular season will run longer than 2018 and playoffs will conflict even more with the October start of the winter-season Mexican Pacific League.
New York-Penn League: With the Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox (PawSox) of the Triple-A International League leaving the city for Worcester after the 2020 season, there has been talk of PawSox ownership purchasing a short-season Class-A NYPL team and moving it to Pawtucket for the 2021 season, although improvements would be needed to the city's older stadium. One scenario being denied by the PawSox ownership has it purchasing and relocating the NYPL's league-operated Batavia (NY) Muckdogs team.
United Shore Professional Baseball League: The organizer of the four-team independent USPBL, which recently completed its third season with all teams playing games at a 4,000-seat stadium in Utica (MI) near Detroit, plans to open a second stadium for the 2020 season. The league will then add a new team to the new location and move one of its four current teams to the new location. The league is in discussions with about 20 cities throughout West Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Colorado.
Northwoods League: The city of Waukesha (WI) in suburban Milwaukee has approved a contract to build a new ballpark for a summer-collegiate Northwoods League team that hopes to start in 2019.
West Coast League: The new summer-collegiate WCL team to be based in Ridgefield (WA) near Vancouver (WA) will be called the Ridgefield Raptors when it starts play in the 2019 season.
National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada announced its schedule for the 2018-19 season that will run from mid-November 2018 to late March 2019 with each of the 10 teams playing 40 games. The league had ten teams last season, but the Niagara River Lions (St. Catharines, Ontario) left to join the new springtime Canadian Elite Basketball League and the league added the new Sudbury Five (Ontario) expansion team. The NBL-Canada eliminated the Central and Atlantic divisional alignments for the regular season and placed all teams in a single ten-team conference.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced two more teams called the Miami 305 Ballers and Kansas City Grillers will be part of the upcoming 2018-19 season. The ABA also announced two teams called the Solano County (CA) Stallions and Ohio Kings (Middletown) will start play in 2019.
A-League Football: A group called A-League Sports has purchased the Lakeland-based Florida Tarpons of the American Arena League (AAL) and will start a new professional indoor league called A-League Football in 2019 with the renamed Lakeland Tarpons and three other Florida-based teams. All teams will be owned and operated by the new league. The remaining three teams and the 2019 schedule are to be announced later this month. The A-League wants to have six to eight teams by the 2020 season. The Florida Tarpons started play in 2012 and were based in the Fort Myers area (Estero) until moving to Lakeland for the 2018 season. The Florida Tarpons have played under six different league names (United Indoor Football League, Ultimate Indoor Football League, X-League Indoor Football, American Indoor Football, Arena Pro Football and the AAL) in its short history.
Professional Arena Football: The proposed new PAF announced its third team will be the Marion (OH) Mambas when the league starts play in March 2019. The Mambas join the league's two previously announced teams called the Richmond (VA) Roughriders and New England Cavalry (Hooksett, NH). The city of Marion has had two previous indoor football teams called the Marion Mayhem and the Marion Blue Racers. The Mayhem started in the 2006 Great Lakes Indoor Football League (GLIFL), which became the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL) the next season with the Mayhem as a member until the team folded in the 2010 season. The Blue Racers started in the 2011 CIFL season, moved to the United Indoor Football League for 2012, returned for two seasons (2013-14) in the CIFL and disbanded after playing the 2015 season in the X-League Indoor Football.
Indoor Football League: As part of its re-branding under new ownership, the IFL's Cedar Rapids (IA) Titans have announced seven potential nicknames for fan voting: Destroyers, Express, Fury, Rangers, Renegades, Sabers and Steel.
North American Hockey League: The junior-level NAHL, which is the only Tier-II league under the USA Hockey structure, started its 2018-19 season this week with 24 teams aligned in 4 regional six-team divisions (Central, East, Midwest and South). The league added one new team called the Maryland Black Bears, while the Topeka RoadRunners were renamed the Topeka Pilots. Two teams changed locations, as the Philadelphia Rebels relocated to become the Jamestown (NY) Rebels and the Coulee Region Chill (La Crosse, WI) was sold and became the Chippewa Steel (Chippewa Falls, WI). The ownership of the NAHL's Topeka Pilots announced plans to build a new 4,000-seat arena in Olathe (KS) for a new NAHL team to be called the Kansas City Scouts.
National Collegiate Development Conference: The NCDC, which is a tuition-free independent Tier-II junior-level league affiliated with the United States Premier Hockey League, started its 2018-19 season this week with 12 teams aligned in one table. All 11 teams from the league's inaugural 2017-18 season returned and the NCDC added a 12th team called the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (Hooksett) for the 2018-19 season. All teams are based in the Northeastern part of the United States.
Major League Soccer: The MLS commissioner stated this week that the league has not yet established a timetable for selecting two more expansion markets to get the league to 28 teams. The league has 23 teams participating in the 2018 season and Cincinnati, Miami and Nashville have already been announced for future teams. The league is engaged with groups in Detroit, Charlotte, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Diego and Las Vegas for the next two expansion teams. Although some had thought the new Nashville MLS team would take the Nashville SC name from its current Division-II United Soccer League team, the ownership has not yet decided on the MLS team name. A recently approved new Nashville MLS stadium will not be ready until the 2021 season so if Nashville starts play as planned in 2020, it hopes to use Nissan Stadium, home of the National Football League's Tennessee Titans, for one season.
United Soccer Leagues Division-III League: The Richmond (VA) Kickers of the Division-II United Soccer League announced the team will move down a level and become a founding member next season in the proposed new USL Division-III league.
Canadian Premier League: Although the proposed new professional CPL would like to have eight teams when it starts its inaugural season in 2019, the league is prepared to launch with only the seven previously announced teams. The CPL had hoped the United Soccer League's Ottawa Fury FC would be its eighth team, but the Fury decided to stay in the USL for 2019. The league will continue to search for an eighth team in various markets across Canada.
National Lacrosse League: The owner of the indoor NLL's Rochester Knighthawks has been awarded an NLL franchise for Halifax (Nova Scotia) starting with the 2019-20 season. The Rochester Knighthawks will continue to operate in the upcoming 2018-19 season, after which most of the Knighthawks players will move with the team to Halifax under a new name for the 2019-20 season. The owner of the NLL's Buffalo Bandits team has been awarded an expansion team for the Rochester market starting with the 2019-20 season and it will be established under the Rochester Knighthawks name. The NLL will have 11 teams in the 2018-19 season and it is trying to grow to 14 teams. After the addition of Halifax, the NLL plans to add two more teams that could be revealed later this year.
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.
• Discuss this story on the North American Hockey League message board...
North American Hockey League Stories from September 17, 2018
- NAHL Announces Divisional Stars of the Week - NAHL
- Solensky Named East Division Star of the Week - Johnstown Tomahawks
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.