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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 29, 2018 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: The city of O'Fallon (MO) has locked the Frontier League's River City Rascals out of the city-owned ballpark because the team has been consistently behind on its rent. The city says it will consider all options that includes looking for a new team or trying to work out a new deal with the Rascals. The River City Rascals started play in the 1999 season after taking over the league's Zanesville (OH) Greys franchise, which had played four seasons (1993-96) before going dormant for two seasons (1997-98), and moving it to O'Fallon

Coastal Plain League: The town of Mint Hill (NC) in suburban Charlotte will be voting on a referendum next month for financing a new 2,500-seat ballpark that could become home to a team in the summer-collegiate CPL.

Intercounty Baseball League: The Burlington Herd of Canada's Ontario-based summer-collegiate IBL recently relocated to Welland where the team will be called the Welland Jackfish when it starts play in the 2019 season

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The National Basketball Association's New Orleans Pelicans announced they will establish their own NBA G-League team in Erie (PA) starting with the 2019-20 season and then move it to a renovated arena in Birmingham (AL) for either the 2021-22 or 2022-23 season. The NBA's Atlanta Hawks currently operate its G-League affiliate as the Erie BayHawks, but the Hawks' G-League affiliate will be moving to a new arena in the College Park area of Atlanta for the 2019-20 season. The Pelicans plan to operate its G-League affiliate as another version of the Erie BayHawks for two or three two seasons depending on how long the arena renovations take in Birmingham.

FOOTBALL

Champions Indoor Football: The new CIF expansion team to be based in Enid (OK) announced it will be called the Oklahoma Flying Aces when it starts play in 2019. The CIF's Omaha Beef has come under new ownership and the team will return for the 2019 season. It looks as though the CIF's Kansas City Phantoms might not return for the 2019 season.

NFL: The NFL is reported to be concerned about whether the Los Angeles Chargers can develop a viable following in the Los Angeles market even after the team moves from its temporary home at the StubHub Center's soccer facility to the new stadium it will share with the Los Angeles Rams starting with the 2020 season. The new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London is nearing completion and starting in 2019 the NFL has an agreement to play at least two regular-season games there over the next ten years. The new stadium was built with the NFL in mind and it features a retractable playing surface that offers both a soccer field and a football field The NFL has invested a lot in the London market and some believe the Tottenham facility will eventually become home to an NFL franchise. The NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars have played an annual game in London since 2013 and have an agreement for that to continue until 2020. The Jaguars prefer Wembley Stadium for its London games and consider it their home away from home. The Jaguars' owner recently pulled out of deal to purchase Wembley Stadium.

International Arena Football League: The proposed new IAFL announced another team called the San Antonio Knights will be part of the league when it starts play in 2019. The IAFL previously announced 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.

American Arena League: The Carolina Havoc (Florence, SC), which played in the 2018 AAL season as the Atlanta Havoc, has confirmed its membership in the AAL for the 2019 season.

National Gridiron League: The new indoor NGL recently held a player draft and a regional combine as it prepares to stock its 12 league-owned teams that plan to start play in 2019, even though not all of the proposed teams have locked down home arena leases. The current NGL alignment has a six-team Eastern Conference with the Georgia Wildcats (Albany), Indiana Blue Bombers (Fort Wayne), Indiana Firebirds (Evansville), Pennsylvania Pioneers (Wilkes-Barre), Virginia Destroyers (Norfolk) and the Virginia Iron Horses (Roanoke), while the Western Conference includes the Arkansas Twisters (Little Rock), Kansas Kapitals (Topeka), Louisiana Red Sticks (Baton Rouge), Mississippi Mudcats (Jackson), St. Louis Stampede (St. Charles) and Texas Bighorns (Beaumont).

HOCKEY

Federal Hockey League: The lower-level minor professional FHL started its 2018-19 season this weekend and again has six teams. The league had six teams last season, but the North Shore Knights (Kingsville, Ontario) and Cornwall Nationals (Ontario), which was replaced by a league-operated Northern Federals team near the end of the 2017-18 season, did not return. The league added two expansion teams called the Elmira (NY) Enforcers and the Mentor (OH) Ice Breakers, based in the Cleveland area, for the 2018-19 season. The FHL's four other returning teams include the Watertown (NY) Wolves, Carolina Thunderbirds (Winston-Salem, NC), Port Huron (MI) Prowlers and Danville (IL) Dashers. The North Shore Knights lasted only one season, while the Cornwall Nationals were a 2016-17 expansion team.

United States Premier Hockey League: The Palm Beach Hawks of the independent Tier-III USPHL Premier Division have shut down operations due to a lack of players. The Hawks had played only four regular-season games in the 2018-19 season and lost all games by a significant margin.

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks have talked about moving its AHL affiliate, which currently is the Utica (NY) Comets, closer to home in the Vancouver area. The Canucks' lease in Utica is up at the end of this season.

SOCCER

National Independent Soccer Association: The proposed new Division-III NISA announced two additional new teams in Philadelphia and Charlotte will be part of the league when it starts play in August 2019. The NISA is hoping to start with 12 teams and says it has several pending applications.

United Soccer League (USL Championship): Although the city of Austin could be getting a new Major League Soccer (MLS) team in the near future, the 2019 expansion team called the Austin Bold in the recently renamed Division-II USL, now the USL Championship, has broken ground on its new 5,000 seat soccer stadium. The ownership of the USL Championship's Phoenix Rising FC is considered a strong contender for obtaining an MLS expansion team. The MLS's Colorado Rapids have ended its affiliation with the USL Championship's Charlotte Independence and the Rapids have been reported to be in discussions with the USL Championship's Colorado Springs Switchback FC about a future affiliation agreement.

United Soccer League Division-III League (USL One): The USL's new Division-III league, now known as USL One, officially announced the new Lansing Ignite FC will be part of its inaugural 2019 season.

United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League (USL Two): The ownership of the Green Bay Bullfrogs baseball team in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League announced plans to operate a 2019 expansion team in the pre-professional USL Two, which was formerly known as the Premier Development League. The Green Bay USL Two team will play at the new ballpark being built for the Northwoods League team.

OTHER

Interstate Box Lacrosse Association: The semi-pro IBLA completed its 2018 season earlier this month with its IBLA Nationals championship tournament held in Lakeville (MN). For the 2018 season, the IBLA consisted of a Regional Box Lacrosse League (RBLL) in seven states or regions: Colorado, Ohio, New Jersey, New England, Missouri, Pacific Northwest and Minnesota. Each RBLL consisted of only two to four teams. Each of the RBLLs except the Pacific Northwest sent a league champion to the IBLA Nationals tournament. This all started with only the Colorado-based RBLL in 2016 and that evolved into the IBLA for 2017 with the addition of the Minnesota RBLL and Oregon RBLL. Four more leagues were added for 2018 and the Oregon RBLL became the Pacific NW RBLL. The IBLA recently announced a new Arizona RBLL will be added in 2019 with teams based in Tucson (the Javelinas) and Phoenix.

Premier Lacrosse League: The proposed new professional outdoor lacrosse PLL confirmed it will launch its inaugural season in June 2019 with six teams. The PPL will be a touring league with six teams making stops in 12 major markets and playing three games during weekend events. The PLL team names and markets will be announced in the near future. The PLL's competition is the professional outdoor lacrosse league called Major League Lacrosse, which has been around since the 2001 season and plans to again have nine teams for its 2019 summertime season.

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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