Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 1, 2018 - Frontier League (FL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: The Traverse City (MI) Beach Bums team in the independent professional Frontier League has come under new ownership and will operate as a team in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League starting with the 2019 season. The Northwoods League's new Traverse City team will also receive a new name prior to the 2019 season. Another Frontier League team called the Normal (IL) CornBelters has been considering a move to the Northwoods League, but a decision has yet to be made. The Traverse City Beach Bums joined the Frontier League for the 2006 season after the sale and relocation of the league's Richmond (IN) Roosters franchise.

Southern League: There has been some speculation as to which Double-A Southern League team will move to New Orleans to replace the Triple-A Pacific Coast League's New Orleans Baby Cakes team that is relocating to Wichita. Officials with the Southern League's Chattanooga Lookouts stated there is no interest in relocating the team as it looks to replace its current ballpark.

Carolina League: The Buies Creek (NC) Astros of the high Class-A Carolina League will announce its new team name in November as the team plans to move to a new stadium under construction in Fayetteville (NC). The team has been playing as the Buies Creek Astros at nearby Campbell University for the past two seasons during stadium construction. The team name announcement was originally scheduled for September 12, 2018, but was postponed due to Hurricane Florence. The team will use Fayetteville in its name with Fatbacks, Fly Traps, Jumpers, Wood Dogs, and Woodpeckers as nickname choices.

Expedition League: The summer-collegiate Expedition League, which played its inaugural season in 2018 with eight teams, announced a new team based in Fremont (NE) will be added for the 2019 season. The league has two other Nebraska-based teams called the Hastings Sodbusters and Western Nebraska Pioneers (Scottsbluff/Gering).

BASKETBALL

National Basketball League of Canada: As the NBL-Canada considers future expansion into Western Canada, the league will hold a pre-season game in Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) in November. If the league does expand to the west, it would like to add a five- or six-team western division with Saskatoon under consideration as a location. A new Saskatoon-based team called the Saskatchewan Rattlers is a member of the proposed new spring-summer Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) that will start play in May 2019. The NBL-Canada schedule runs from mid-November to mid-May and NBL-Canada officials think both leagues can co-exist due to the different timing of their seasons.

American Basketball Association: The ABA's proposed ABA GOLD league, which was billed as an eight-team pro enhancement league to showcase the ABA's elite players, announced late last month the four-week late-summer league has been postponed until 2019 due to complications beyond the league's control. The ABA GOLD was to play a schedule running from August 4 to September 29, 2018, with all games played at one location in Las Vegas. Apparently, there was some sort of problem with the planned venue and the ABA announced on August 4 there would be a couple of weeks delay in starting. A few weeks later, the ABA announced the postponement until 2019. The previously announced ABA GOLD teams included the Atlanta Hotballers, Baltimore Sparks, Chicago Wind, DFW Power, LA Superstars, New York Empires, Orlando Splash and San Diego Floaters.

FOOTBALL

Alliance of American Football: The proposed outdoor professional AAF, which plans to start its inaugural season in February 2019, announced team names for its four western teams that will be part of the Alliance West: the Arizona Hotshots (Phoenix), Salt Lake Stallions (Salt Lake City), San Antonio Commanders and San Diego Fleet. The four Alliance East teams were announced last week as the Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express and Orlando Apollos.

A-League Football: The proposed new 2019 A-League, which is a new four-team, Florida-based indoor football league being organized by the ownership of the Lakeland Tarpons, announced the other three league-operated teams will be the Sarasota BigCats, Gulf Coast Fire (Estero/Fort Myers) and Manatee Neptunes (originally the Bradenton Neptunes). The A-League plans to add two to four teams in 2020.

Indoor Football League: The owner of the Bloomington (IL) Edge, which is a provisional IFL member for the 2019 season, is stepping away from the team and looking for new ownership. The Edge tried to move from Champions Indoor Football to the IFL for the 2018 season, but a court ruling went against the proposed move and the Edge played an independent exhibition season this summer. The owner would like the Edge to remain in the city, but new ownership would have relocation options in and out of the state.

Professional Arena Football: The Richmond (VA) Roughriders team, which played in the 2018 American Arena League and is now part of the proposed new PAF, is moving to Wheeling (WV) where the team will become the Wheeling Roughriders for the 2019 season. The Roughriders were moving due to proposed renovations at the Richmond Arena and questions about its availability for the 2019 season. The city of Wheeling has had previous indoor football teams called the Steel Valley Smash for two seasons (1999-2000) in the original Indoor Football League, the Ohio Valley Greyhounds for four seasons (2001-04) in the former National Indoor Football League and three seasons (2005-07) in United Indoor Football, and the Wheeling Wildcats for one season (2009) in the Continental Indoor Football League.

National Football League: The owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars is close to finalizing the purchase of London's Wembley Stadium. There has been speculation this could lead to the Jaguars being move to London, although the Jaguars' owner has denied such a move. The Jaguars have played one regular-season game in London since 2013.

HOCKEY

Canadian Hockey League: The major-junior CHL's three leagues - the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League - started their 2018-19 seasons last week. The OHL has the same 20 teams and alignment as last season with five-team East and Central divisions in an Eastern Conference and five-team Midwest and West divisions in a Western Conference. The QMJHL has the same 18 teams, but went from a three-division to a four-division alignment with a six-team Maritime Division and four-team East, Central and West divisions. The WHL has the same 22 teams and alignment as last season with six-team East and Central divisions in an Eastern Conference and five-team U.S. (United States) and B.C (British Columbia) divisions in a Western Conference.

United States Hockey League: The Midwest-based Tier-I USHL, which is the highest-level junior hockey league under USA Hockey, started its 2018-19 season this weekend with the same 17 teams as last season aligned in an eight-team Western Conference and a nine-team Eastern Conference.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: A potential new ownership group and possible state funding for a new soccer stadium could revive the MLS expansion effort in St. Louis. Last year, another ownership group came up short on stadium funding when the St. Louis voters turned down a public contribution of $60 million.

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL announced its 2018-19 season schedule that will have each of the 17 teams playing 12 home games and 12 away games from November 30, 2018 to April 14, 2019. The MASL Eastern Conference will have a four-team Eastern Division and a five-team Central Division, while the MASL Western Conference will have a four-team Southwest Division and a four-team Pacific Division.

United Soccer Leagues: The organization known as United Soccer Leagues, which includes the Division-II professional United Soccer League (USL), a proposed new 2019 Division-III league and the under-23 amateur Premier Development League (PDL), will undergo a restructuring for the 2019 season. Under a new United Soccer League (USL) brand, the Division-II pro league will be renamed the USL Championship, the new 2019 Division-III pro league will be called USL One, and the pre-professional under-23 PDL will be known as USL Two. As the new Division-III league organizes for its start in 2019, a group in Lansing (MI) is planning a team for the league, while a previously announced team for Chattanooga announced it will be called the Chattanooga Red Wolves when it starts play in 2019.

OTHER

Professional Lacrosse League: One of the stars of the outdoor (field lacrosse) Major Lacrosse League is planning to start the new outdoor PLL next summer. The PLL's season would compete with the MLL's summertime schedule. The PLL will be a six-team touring league that will play its games on Saturdays and Sundays with all six teams traveling to the same tour city for the weekend event.

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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