Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
November 19, 2018 - Texas League (TL)
Texas League: The new Double-A Texas League team to be based in Amarillo starting with the 2019 season announced it will be called the Amarillo Sod Poodles, which is the name pioneers gave to prairie dogs. Other nickname finalists included Boot Scooters, Bronc Busters, Jerky and Long Haulers. The Sod Poodles are the league's San Antonio Missions team that is moving to Amarillo, while a new Triple-A version of the San Antonio Missions starts play in 2019 as part of the Pacific Coast League.
Carolina League: The city of Fredericksburg (VA) voted to approve a deal that will allow the Potomac Nationals of the high Class-A Carolina League to build a new 5,000-seat stadium in the city and relocate the team from Woodbridge (VA) to Fredericksburg for the 2020 season.
Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: The Triple-A LMB, or Mexican Baseball League, will contract from 16 to 12 teams with the Puebla Pericos and Leon Bravos of the North Division and the Algodoneros Union Laguna and Aquascalientes Rieleros of the South Division being placed on hiatus for the 2019 season. Players on these teams will be placed in a draft pool for the remaining 12 teams.
American Association: The independent American Association announced its 2019 season schedule that will again feature 12 teams aligned in six-team North and South divisions. The expansion Milwaukee Milkmen team will replace the Wichita Wingnuts team, which suspended operations due to the loss of its home stadium that will be replaced and become home to a future affiliated team in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Milwaukee will be part of the six-team North Division, while the Sioux Falls (SD) Canaries will be moved from the North and take Wichita's spot in the six-team South Division.
Can-Am League: The independent Can-Am League announced its 2019 season schedule that will feature the six returning teams from last season: New Jersey Jackals (Little Falls), Ottawa Champions (Ontario), Rockland Boulders (Ramapo, NY), Quebec Capitales (Quebec City), Sussex County (NJ) Miners and Trois-Rivieres Aigles (Quebec). As it has done in the past few years, each Can-Am team will play some series against two international teams as part of the 2019 schedule.
Arizona Winter League: The Yuma-based AWL has ceased operations and will no longer operate its short-season winter showcase league for players looking to sign with independent summer league teams. The AWL operated for six seasons (2007-12) and then became the Harlingen-based Texas Winter League for the next three seasons (2013-15) before moving back to Arizona for the past three seasons (2016-18). The current California Winter League was trying to purchase any AWL assets.
Northwoods League: As part of a move into a new ballpark in 2019, the Green Bay Bullfrogs team in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League has selected the Green Bay Booyah as the team's new name. The Booyah comes from the name given to a Belgian-style stew that is popular in northeastern Wisconsin.
National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada started its 2018-19 season this weekend with all ten teams aligned in one table for the regular-season. The league had ten teams last season but the Niagara River Lions (St. Catharines, Ontario) left to join the springtime Canadian Elite Basketball League and the NBL-Canada added the expansion Sudbury Five (Ontario). The league eliminated its Atlantic and Central divisional alignment for the 2018-19 season and placed all teams in a single ten-team grouping.
Professional Arena Football: The proposed 2019 indoor football league known as the PAF has shut down before getting off the ground. The league organizer is the owner of the Wheeling-based West Virginia Roughriders team, which played as the Richmond (VA) Roughriders in the 2018 American Arena League (AAL) before relocating to Wheeling for the 2019 season. The PAF had announced two other charter members called the New England Cavalry (Hooksett, NH) and the Marion (OH) Mambas, but it had difficulty recruiting additional teams for the 2019 season. The West Virginia Roughriders plan to play in 2019 and could return to the AAL. The PAF was originally announced as Northern Arena Football (NAF), but quickly changed to the PAF with the NAF becoming the PAF's northern division and the Southern Arena Football as a proposed PAF southern division.
New England Arena League: The owner of the New England Cavalry (Hooksett, NH), which played as a travel team in the 2018 American Arena League and was announced as a charter member of the proposed 2019 Professional Arena Football, is trying to organize the new regional NEAL for the 2019 season. Plans include having eight or more New England-based teams playing all games at a central location with the cities of West Warwick (RI), New Bedford (MA) and Fall River (MA) said to be under consideration.
Western Hockey League: The owners of the Kootenay Ice (Cranbrook, British Columbia) in the major-junior WHL are reported to be considering a move of the team to Winnipeg (Manitoba). Winnipeg last had a WHL team called the Winnipeg Warriors that left town after the 1983-84 season. The Ice started as the Edmonton Ice for two seasons (1996-98) prior to moving to Cranbrook as the Kootenay Ice in 1998.
National Hockey League: The NHL's vote on a proposed Seattle expansion team is said to be on track for a league meeting next month. The group working to renovate Seattle's KeyArena for the NHL team is pushing for completion by November 2020 so the team could start play in the NHL's 2020-21 season, but might have to play some games at temporary location. The NHL appears to be in favor of a 2021-22 start.
Major League Soccer: The new Cincinnati MLS expansion team officially announced its team name will be the FC Cincinnati, which stands for Football Club Cincinnati, when it starts play in 2019. The team played the past three seasons in the Division-II United Soccer League as FC Cincinnati, which used the Latin American/Spanish version of Futbol Club Cincinnati. There had been talk of using a German version, or Fussball Club Cincinnati, for the MLS team name. A St. Louis economic development board has approved two tax incentives for a proposed new soccer-specific stadium that could become home to an MLS expansion team.
National Premier Soccer League "" Pro League: The men's elite-level amateur NPSL announced plans to start an NPSL professional league with 11 teams participating in an NPSL Founders Cup competition that will run from August to November 2019. A full league schedule will begin in the spring of 2020 and additional teams could be added before the league starts play. Of the 11 founding teams, the Chattanooga FC, ASC San Diego, Detroit FC, FC Arizona (Mesa), Miami United FC, and Milwaukee Torrent were part of the 2018 NPSL season. Two former Division-II North American Soccer League (NASL) teams called Miami FC and the New York Cosmos will be part of the new NPSL pro league. These clubs operated developmental teams called Miami FC 2 and New York Cosmos B in the 2018 NPSL since the NASL did not operate in 2018. The remaining teams will be a once-proposed NASL expansion team called the California United Strikers FC (Fullerton), a new team called the Oakland Roots, and the Cal FC (Ventura County) that has a team in the 2018-19 season of the amateur-level United Premier Soccer League.
United Soccer League (USL Championship): The Bethlehem (PA) Steel FC of the Division-II USL, which has been renamed the USL Championship, will not play in Bethlehem in 2019 due to its stadium not meeting league requirements. The Steel FC will instead use the home of its parent club, Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union, that is located about 70 miles south of Bethlehem in Chester (PA). The team will keep the Bethlehem Steel FC name as it tries to return to the Lehigh Valley in the near future.
American Ultimate Disc League: The AUDL is looking for partners to invest in a proposed new Portland (OR) team for either the 2019 or 2020 season. The AUDL's Vancouver (British Columbia) Riptide ceased operations after the 2017 season and the league allowed the ownership to move to the Portland market. The AUDL had granted a Portland expansion franchise during its inaugural 2012 season, but the Portland owner decided to switch to the competing Major League Ultimate (MLU) that started play in 2013. The Portland Stags competed in all four seasons (2013-16) of the MLU, which suspended operations after the 2016 season.
National Lacrosse League: The indoor NLL rejected a counterproposal from the Professional Lacrosse Players Association to the league's latest collective bargaining agreement, so the league has decided to cancel the first two weekends of the 2018-19 season with games scheduled for December 1 and 8, 2018.
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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