Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
October 22, 2018 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL)
Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League announced its 2019 schedule that will feature the new High Point (NC) Rockers team replacing the league's travel team called the Road Warriors. The league will again have eight teams aligned in four-team Liberty and Freedom divisions with High Point replacing the Road Warriors in the Liberty Division. The Road Warriors were created for the 2018 season to keep the league at eight teams when the Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish shut down operations after the 2017 season.
Frontier League: The independent Frontier League announced it will operate with ten teams in five-team East and West divisions for the 2019 season. The league had 12 teams in 2018, but the Traverse City (MI) Beach Bums of the East Division and the Normal (IL) CornBelters of the West Division are leaving the league and moving to summer-collegiate leagues for the 2019 season. 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, while the Normal CornBelters were a 2010 expansion team.
International League: With the Syracuse Chiefs of the Triple-A International League coming under new ownership by Major League Baseball's New York Mets last year, the team has been renamed the Syracuse Mets starting with the 2019 season. This version of the Syracuse Chiefs had been part of the league since the 1961 season, but was called the Syracuse SkyChiefs from 1997 through the 2006 season.
Mexican Pacific League: Mexico's independent fall-season Mexican-Pacific League, or Liga Mexicana del Pac?-fico (LMP), started its 2018 season last weekend and again has eight teams called the Aguilas de Mexicali (Baja California), Caneros de Los Mochis (Sinaloa), Charros de Jalisco (Guadalajara), Mayos de Navojoa (Sonora), Naranjeros de Hermosillo (Sonora), Tomateros de Culiacan (Sinaloa), Venados de Mazatlan (Sinaloa) and Yaquis de Obregon (Sonora). The LMP season runs through December.
Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League's proposed 2019 expansion team called the St. Croix River Hounds (Hudson, WI) will wait until the 2020 season to start play due to delays in developing the site for a new ballpark. The league's Thunder Bay (Ontario) Border Cats team, whose ownership group pulled out after the 2018 season, could have new local ownership in place to keep the team in the league.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): When the NBA G-League starts play next month with 27 teams, the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers will be the only teams in the 30-team NBA without their own G-League affiliate. The Trail Blazers had been considering Beaverton (OR) and Vancouver (British Columbia) as possible G-League sites, but there have been no updates on these locations. The Pelicans had been looking at Pensacola (FL), but those plans are on hold as Pensacola was still debating whether to build a new arena or renovate its current arena. Omaha (NE) had been mentioned as a possible location for the Nuggets' G-League team, but there have been no updates on that development.
Alliance of American Football: The new outdoor professional AAF recently announced the schedule for its inaugural season that will feature eight teams each playing a ten-game schedule from February 9 to April 14, 2019. The Alliance West will feature the Arizona Hotshots (Phoenix), Salt Lake Stallions (Salt Lake City), San Antonio Commanders and San Diego Fleet, while the Alliance East will include the Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express and Orlando Apollos.
XFL: The proposed new outdoor XFL is still moving forward with plans to start play in early 2020 with four eastern teams and four western teams. The XFL is reported to have about 15 cities under consideration and it does not plan on using any of the names from the eight teams that participated in the original version of the XFL in the 2001 season.
International Arena Football League: The proposed new IAFL has announced four teams that will be part of the league's inaugural season in 2019. The IAFL lists two Mexican teams called the Tampico Lagartos and Football Mexicah (Mexico City) and two Texas-based teams called the Temple Demons and the Austin Wild, which played as a travel-only team in the 2018 American Arena League.
American West Football Conference: The owner of a proposed indoor football team called the Idaho Horsemen (Nampa) had been considering either the Indoor Football League or Champions Indoor Football for membership, but now has organized the new AWFC that will start play in 2019 with at least four teams. Teams announced so far include the Idaho Horsemen, Wenatchee Valley (WA) Skyhawks, Tri-Cities Fire (Kennewick, WA) and Reno Express, which will also be operated by the Horsemen's ownership. The AWFC will be considering additional markets in the western states of Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Arizona.
Southern Professional Hockey League: The SPHL started its 2018-19 season this week that again features ten teams aligned in a single-table format. The changes from last season include the Mississippi RiverKings (Southaven) suspending operations for the 2018-19 season and the league adding a new team called the Quad City Storm (Moline, IL).
Canadian Women's Hockey League: The CWHL started its 2018-19 season about a week ago with six teams. The league had seven teams last season, but the two teams from Shenzhen (China) called the Kunlun Red Star and the Vanke Rays combined into one team called the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays for the 2018-19 season. The league's four Canadian teams called the Calgary Inferno, Markham Thunder, Montreal Les Canadiennes and Toronto Furies all returned, while the lone United States team called the Boston Blades relocated to become the Worcester (MA) Blades for the 2018-19 season. The CWHL began play as an elite-level women's league in the 2007-08 season and started paying players last season. The CWHL teams in Calgary, Montreal and Toronto have promotional and financial assistance partnerships with the National Hockey League teams in those markets.
National Women's Hockey League: The commissioner of the five-team NWHL is working toward a merger of the league with the other women's hockey league called the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL). The NWHL started play as a professional league in the 2015-16 season. Three of the five NWHL teams called the Buffalo Beauts, Metropolitan Riveters (Newark) and Minnesota Whitecaps (St. Paul) have some type of affiliation with the National Hockey League teams in their markets.
National Independent Soccer Association: The proposed new Division-III NISA plans to have a New England-based team in Connecticut when the league starts play in August 2019.
Western Indoor Soccer League: The WISL, which is an elite-level men's league based in the state of Washington, recently announced a new team called the Tacoma Narrows FC has been added for the upcoming 2018-19 season. The addition of Tacoma brings the league back to an even six teams for its fifth season of play. The WISL's Bremerton-based Olympic Force has been renamed the Olympic Peninsula Force, or the Oly-Pen Force, for the 2018-19 season.
National Collegiate Box Series: Indoor lacrosse's U.S. Box Lacrosse Association (USBLA) organized the new National Collegiate Box Series for this past summer with the six-team Denver-based Colorado Collegiate Box Lacrosse League and the four-team Columbus-based Ohio Box Lacrosse League. The USBLA's Colorado league played with four teams in 2017 and the Ohio league started in 2018. The USBLA plans to add additional regional leagues in the future as it provides summertime competition for collegiate box lacrosse players.
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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