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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 5, 2018 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)

BASEBALL

International League: The Worcester (MA) city council voted to create a financing district to help fund a new ballpark for the relocating Pawtucket (RI) Red Sox of the Triple-A International League. This allows the city to move forward with selling bonds for the project. The new ballpark is expected to be ready for the 2021 season and the team, now referred to as the WooSox, will play in Pawtucket for 2019 and 2020.

Prospect League: The Normal (IL) CornBelters organization, which fielded a team in the independent professional Frontier League since the 2010 season, has been sold and it will place a team by the same name in the summer-collegiate Prospect League for the 2019 season. The new ownership group includes owners of two other current Prospect League teams. The Prospect League will also add a new team called the Cape Girardeau (MO) Catfish for the 2019 season. The new Normal team will have some Illinois rivals with other Prospect League teams located in Springfield, Quincy and Danville.

Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League: The Jamestown (NY) Jammers of the summer-collegiate PGCBL will cease operations for the 2019 season with the hope that a local organization will bring the team back in 2020. There were two rejected offers for the team that would have moved it to another city.

New England Collegiate Baseball League: The ownership of the Plymouth (MA) Pilgrims in the summer-collegiate NECBL has decided to step away from the team that will cease operations after six seasons (2013-18) of play.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA G-League started its 2018-19 season this weekend and increased to 27 teams with the addition of the Capital City Go-Go (Washington, DC), operated by the NBA's Washington Wizards. The league's Reno Bighorns, operated by the NBA's Sacramento Kings, relocated to become the Stockton (CA) Kings for 2018-19. The Delaware 87ers changed its name to the Delaware Blue Coats as the team moves from Newark (DE) to Wilmington later this season after a new arena is completed. The league's Rio Grande Valley Vipers moved from Hidalgo (TX) to a new facility in Edinburg (TX). In the league alignment, Delaware was moved to the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division and replaced in the Eastern Conference Southeast Division by Capital City. Stockton took Reno's spot in the Western Conference Pacific Division.

FOOTBALL

Champions Indoor Football: The CIF announced its schedule and alignment for 2019 that will feature eight teams aligned in four-team Northern and Southern conferences. The CIF lost four teams since the start of the 2018 season, but added one new team. The Dallas Marshals suspended operations during the 2018 season and did not return. After the 2018 season, the Quad City Steamwheelers (2018 CIF expansion team) and the Bismarck (ND) Bucks (2017 CIF expansion team) moved to the Indoor Football League (IFL), while the Kansas City Phantoms (2017 CIF expansion team) folded. The CIF added the Enid-based Oklahoma Flying Aces as a 2019 expansion team. The CIF's West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) was blocked from moving to the IFL after the 2017 season and, after an ownership change, played in the 2018 Midwest Professional Indoor Football with plans to return to the CIF in 2019. The Ironmen shut down operations for 2019 due to a lack of nearby competition.

Canadian Football League: The city of Halifax (Nova Scotia) has voted to move forward on analyzing plans for a proposed 24,000-seat stadium that could become home to a future CFL expansion team. The league has been trying to add a team in the Atlantic Canada region that would give its East Division a fifth team to match the five-team West Division. An ownership group is in place for the Halifax-based team and it is hoping a stadium could be ready by the 2021 season. Some CFL teams are having a hard time signing players who are now moving to the new Alliance of American Football that starts play in February 2019. Players looking to move to the National Football League might have a better chance playing in the AAF because its schedule does not overlap the NFL schedule like the CFL schedule.

HOCKEY

USA Central Hockey League: The new Texas-based junior-level USACHL started its inaugural 2018-19 season a couple of weeks ago with four teams called the Laredo Bucks, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (Hidalgo, TX), Texas Lawmen (McAllen, TX) and Wichita Falls Force. Initially, the league planned to have six teams for its first season. The USACHL is an independent league that is not sanctioned under USA Hockey, but it is a "free-to-play" league similar to USA Hockey's Tier-I and Tier-II leagues.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The FC Cincinnati team that is moving up from the Division-II United Soccer League (now USL Championship) to the MLS in 2019 will announce the team's new name on November 12, 2018. The Missouri state highway commission has renewed a St. Louis development agency's option to purchase a site that has been targeted as the location to build a soccer-specific stadium for a possible MLS expansion team.

National Independent Soccer Association: The recently announced Philadelphia-based team for the proposed new Division-III NISA is expected to be the Philadelphia Fury, which was a founding member of the lower-level professional American Soccer League and has played home games at Rowan University in Glassboro (NJ) over the past few years.

United Soccer League (USL Championship): The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC of the recently renamed Division-II USL, now the USL Championship, has signed an affiliation agreement with the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer starting with the 2019 season.

United Soccer League Division-III League (USL League One): The USL's new Division-III league, now known as USL League One, announced it will start play in 2019 with ten teams aligned in one table. The league also announced its tenth team will be operated by FC Dallas of Major League Soccer with a team name to be announced later this year. The Dallas team will join the nine other previously announced teams: the Lansing Ignite FC, South Georgia Tormenta FC (Statesboro, Georgia), FC Tucson, Chattanooga (TN) Red Wolves, Greenville (SC) Triumph SC, Madison (WI) Pro Soccer, Toronto FC II, Orlando City B, and the Richmond (VA) Kickers.

United Soccer Leagues "" Premier Development League (USL League Two): The Michigan Bucks of the PDL, which is now the pre-professional USL League Two, will move from the Detroit suburb of Pontiac to Flint (MI) for the 2019 season. The team started in 1996 as the Mid-Michigan Bucks based in Saginaw (MI) and became the Michigan Bucks when it moved to Pontiac for the 2004 season. Since 2008, the team's home has been a full-size soccer field at an indoor venue in Pontiac.

Women's Premier Soccer League: The Chattanooga Red Wolves, a men's soccer team that will start play in 2019 as part of the new Division-III USL League One, is developing a women's team to be called the Chattanooga Lady Red Wolves that will compete in the 2019 WPSL. A WPSL team called the Chattanooga FC played the past five seasons (2014-18) and was affiliated with a men's team by the same name that played the past ten seasons (2009-18) in the National Premier Soccer League.

OTHER

National Pro FastPitch: The NPF women's professional fastpitch softball league announced it will be adding a sixth team called the Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois for the 2019 season. The team will consist of Canadian players and will be operated by Canada's national softball organization called Softball Canada. The team will play a 50-game schedule with home games played in Marion (IL) at Rent One Park, which is also the home of the city's independent Frontier League baseball team called the Southern Illinois Miners. The five teams from last season called the Aussie Spirit, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Cleveland Comets and USSSA Florida Pride (Viera) are all expected to return for 2019. The Aussie Spirit is comprised of players from the Australian national team and was based in Shawnee (KS) for the 2018 season with home games played in various locations in Kansas and Missouri. The Beijing Shougang Eagles team, which is run by the Chinese Softball Association and includes players from the Chinese national team, was based out of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, FL) for most of its 2018 home games.

Major League Rugby: The professional MLR, which completed its inaugural 2018 season with seven teams, announced the addition of another new team called the Toronto Arrows and it operate with nine teams in 2019. The Arrows will join the seven returning teams from 2018 and another expansion team called Rugby United New York (New York City) for the 2019 season. The Toronto Arrows were previously known as the Ontario Arrows and played some games earlier this year against some MLR teams. The MLR also announced a team in Washington D.C. will be added for the 2020 season. In September, the MLR announced teams in Atlanta and Boston would be added for the 2020 season. The Boston team was originally referred to as the Boston FreeJacks, but is now called the New England FreeJacks. The MLR will announce the schedule for its nine-team 2019 competition later this month.

National Lacrosse League: The players and owners of the indoor NLL are battling over a collective bargaining agreement that could jeopardize the start of the 2018-19 season scheduled for the first of next month. The NLL stated that training camps were opening this weekend, but some of those have been cancelled due to a lack of player participation.

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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