Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
October 8, 2018 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Frontier League: The Normal (IL) CornBelters of the independent professional Frontier League have decided to leave the league and move to a summer-collegiate league in 2019. The CornBelters' owner mentioned the Northwoods League, Prospect League and the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League as possible destinations for the team. The Normal CornBelters joined the Frontier League as an expansion team for the 2010 season.
Great West League: The summer-collegiate GWL announced it will suspend operations for the 2019 season. The league started play in the 2016 season and had six teams based in Oregon and Northern California this past season.
Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League has served one of its member teams, the Thunder Bay Border Cats (Ontario, Canada), a termination notice. The ownership has less than a month to resolve its financial issues or the league could take back the franchise.
Expedition League: The summer-collegiate Expedition League, which played its inaugural season in 2018 with eight teams, announced its first Canadian team based in Brandon (Manitoba) will be added for the 2019 season.
American Basketball Association: The ABA's Springfield (MA) Sting has been sold and the new owner plans to sit out the 2018-19 season and return for the 2019-20 season as the renamed West Mass Zombies. The ABA also announced another new team called the Weirton (WV) Widowmakers will start play in the upcoming 2018-19 season. Weirton is about 35 miles west of Pittsburgh.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF's Bismarck (ND) Bucks announced the team will be switching to the Indoor Football League for the 2019 season. The Bismarck Bucks had joined the CIF as a 2017 expansion team. The CIF's proposed 2019 expansion team for Enid (OK) is still in the works and it will soon be announcing the team's name.
A-League Football: The proposed new 2019 Florida-based indoor football league known as the A-League has signed an agreement for the outdoor adult-amateur Florida Champion Football League (FCFL) to serve as the A-League's official developmental league. Several A-League teams have announced affiliations with some of the FCFL teams, such as the Ocala Panthers, Fort Pierce Bengals, Orlando Rage, Palm Beach Cowboys and the West Coast Soldiers.
American Arena League: The AAL announced the Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC) team will return to the league for the 2019 season and it becomes the fifth AAL member announced for 2019.
Canadian Arena League: The proposed CAL, which was an attempt to create an indoor football league playing by Canadian three-down rules, never got off the ground and the league organizer recently announced the shutdown of the CAL due to personal issues.
National Gridiron League: As the proposed new indoor NGL plans for a start in the spring of 2019, the league recently held a player draft for its 12 member teams.
Liga de Futbol Americano: Mexico's professional American football league known as the LFA will grow from four to six teams for its fourth season in 2019 with the addition of expansion teams in Toluca and Puebla. The commissioner of the Canadian Football League recently visited Mexico to discuss a possible agreement with the LFA, but no formal agreement between the two leagues has been finalized.
National Hockey League: The NHL's nine-owner executive committee has recommended moving forward with a Seattle expansion franchise and a final approval vote could happen in December. A new Seattle team could start in the 2020-21 season, but that depends on completing a total renovation of the city's KeyArena that has yet to start. The group behind the arena renovation project registered potential team names, such as Cougars, Eagles, Emeralds, Evergreens, Firebirds, Kraken, Rainiers, Renegades, Sea Lions, Seals, Sockeyes, Totems and Whales. In June 1974, the ownership of a minor hockey team called the Seattle Totems was awarded an NHL franchise to start for the 1976-77 season, but it was never able to come up with financing for the expansion fee and the Seattle franchise was pulled back in mid-1975.
American Hockey League: The AHL started its 2018-19 season this week and grew from 30 to 31 teams, as the league now has one top minor league affiliate for each of the 31 National Hockey League (NHL) teams. The Colorado Eagles (Loveland) moved up a level from the ECHL to become the AHL's 31st team and the AHL affiliate of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche's previous AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, is the new affiliate of the NHL's St. Louis Blues. Last season, the AHL operated with 30 teams to the NHL's 31 teams, so the St. Louis Blues were without its own AHL affiliate. The AHL also underwent some realignment and has an Eastern Conference with an eight-team Atlantic Division and an eight-team North Division, and a Western Conference with an eight-team Central Division and a seven-team Pacific Division.
National Women's Hockey League: The professional NWHL started its fourth season this week with five teams. A new team called the Minnesota Whitecaps (St. Paul) was added to the four returning teams from last season called the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale (Stamford) and Metropolitan Riveters (Newark).
Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey: Canada's semi-pro minor professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, started its 2018-19 season this week with six teams. The five Quebec-based teams called 3L Riviere-du-Loup, Assurancia de Thetford Mines, Cool FM St-Georges, Eperviers Sorel-Tracy and Marquis de Jonquiere returned from last season, but the Draveurs de Trois-Rivieres did not. The LNAH added its first U.S.-based team called the Berlin (NH) Blackjacks as its sixth team. The ownership of the former Federal Hockey League team called the Berlin River Drivers, which played two FHL season (2015-17) before dropping out mainly due to travel costs, organized the new Berlin-based LNAH team.
Major Arena Soccer League: An application by the former MASL team called the Rochester (NY) Lancers was not accepted into the MASL for the 2018-19 season, but the Lancers' owner has not ruled out the possibility of the team being part of the second-tier MASL2 for the 2018-19 season. The MASL2 currently lists a five-team Eastern Conference and a six-team Western Conference for 2018-19. The MASL announced at its recent owner's meeting the hiring of a liaison in Mexico with the goal of developing expansion opportunities there.
United Soccer League: The El Paso expansion franchise in the Division-II USL, which will become the USL Championship league next season, announced the team will be called the El Paso Locomotive FC when it starts play in the 2019 season.
Premier Lacrosse League: The new six-team touring outdoor (field lacrosse) league being planned for next summer is called the Premier Lacrosse League, not the Professional Lacrosse League as previously listed here.
American Ultimate Disc League: Many of the players on the D.C. Breeze team of the semi-pro AUDL are planning to boycott the team and the league in 2019 because neither appeared to be interested in making gender equity a priority this past year. Prior to the 2018 season, numerous players inside and outside the AUDL organized a boycott of the league because of its perceived lack of support for gender equity and to put pressure on the league to include women in competition.
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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- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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