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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 26, 2018 - Pioneer League (PL)

BASEBALL

Pioneer League: The new Colorado Springs team in the advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League announced it will be called the Rocky Mountain Vibes when it starts play in 2019. The league's Helena (MT) Brewers team was moved to Colorado Springs to replace the city's Colorado Springs SkySox team of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League that is moving to become a new version of the San Antonio Missions for the 2019 season. A name-the-team contest listed the Pioneer League team's five potential nicknames as the Happy Campers, Lamb Chops, Punchy Pikas, Throttle Jockeys and Rocky Mountain Oysters, but the team's ownership decided to go with a totally different name.

California Winter League: The instructional showcase CWL, which is billed as the official winter league of the independent Frontier League, will play its tenth season from February 4 to March 4, 2019 with all games again played at a complex in Palm Springs (CA). The league is a showcase for players trying to latch on to a Frontier League team or other independent league teams that have representatives scouting talent for the 2019 summer season.

Southwest League of Professional Baseball: The proposed new SWL held a two-day player tryout earlier this month in Plano (TX) as the independent league looks to start play in 2019. The league currently has four announced teams: the Joplin (MO) Miners and three Texas-based teams called the Waco BlueCats, Royse City Griffins and a yet-to-be-named Dallas franchise.

Great West League: The owner of the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox (Marysville, CA) in the summer-collegiate GWL, which recently suspended operations, stated the team will fold if new ownership is not found by the end of this month. The owner said the team has tentatively been accepted into the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League for next season, but new ownership would still need to work out a ballpark lease deal.

Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League recently announced its 2019 season schedule and the league will grow from 20 to 22 teams. The league is adding the Kokomo (IN) Jackrabbits from the Prospect League and a yet-to-be-named team in Traverse City (MI). The Traverse City Beach Bums team from the independent professional Frontier League was sold and new ownership decided to operate a summer-collegiate team instead. The Northwoods League also announced it will switch from a two-division alignment to a four-division alignment for the 2019 season.

Liga Invernal Mexicana: The Triple-A level Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), or Mexican Baseball League, is not operating its developmental LIM winter league for the 2018 season. The LIM operated the past three seasons (2015-17) with six teams consisting of prospects from LMB teams.

BASKETBALL

Midwest Basketball League: After operating for three seasons, the semi-pro spring-summer MBL announced it plans to expand outside the Midwest region of the United States that could include a possible name change. The MBL operated with 18 full-schedule teams in four divisions for its 2018 season.

Liga Mexicana de Baloncesto Profesional Femenil: Mexico's top women's basketball league known as the LMBPF announced it will operate with nine teams when the season starts in March 2019. All eight teams from last season will return and the league added a new team called the Escaramuzas de Guadalajara.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The IFL announced the addition of a new team called the San Diego Strike Force for the upcoming 2019 season. San Diego has had previous indoor football teams called the San Diego Shockwave in the 2007 season of the former National Indoor Football League and the San Diego Riptide for four seasons (2002-05) in the former arenafootball2. The IFL also announced its 2019 season schedule will feature ten teams aligned in one table. All six teams from last season will return, although the Cedar Rapids (IA) Titans were renamed the Cedar Rapids River Kings under new ownership. The IFL added the Bismarck (ND) Bucks and Quad City Steamwheelers (Moline, IL) from Champions Indoor Football, along with the San Diego Strike Force and Tucson Sugar Skulls as expansion teams.

Canadian Football League: The new CFL expansion team being planned for Halifax (Nova Scotia) announced it will be called the Atlantic Schooners as it prepares for a possible start in the 2021 season. Other nicknames under consideration were the Atlantic Admirals, Atlantic Convoy and Atlantic Storm. In 1982, the CFL granted a conditional expansion team for Halifax that was also to be called the Atlantic Schooners. This team was to start play in 1984, but plans for a proposed stadium fell through. The CFL has outlined the steps for the latest Halifax team to join the league with construction of a proposed 24,000-seat stadium being the biggest hurdle. The group trying to bring a CFL expansion team to Halifax has recently started taking season-ticket deposits. The CFL also announced it has signed a letter of intent with Mexico's professional football league called the Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional (LFA) that would have both leagues working together on various projects. This could include sharing league resources, holding a CFL player combine in Mexico City this winter, playing a CFL game in Mexico and aligning of LFA teams with CFL teams.

HOCKEY

Junior Women's Hockey League: The 12th season of the developmental JWHL started play last month with an eight-team Major Junior U19 Division, a six-team U16 Division and a six-team U14 Division. The JWHL has teams based in Canada and the northeastern United States.

Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League: The Brampton Royals of the Ontario-based CPJHL recently ceased operations for failing to meet league requirements. A new ownership group has taken over the franchise and the team has been renamed the Greater Toronto Jaguars. The nine-team CPJHL is considered a Tier-III level league under the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union.

Eastern Women's Hockey Conference: The elite-level EWHC started its 2018-19 season last month with seven under-19 teams. The EWHC has five teams based in the northeastern United States and two academy teams based in Ontario, Canada. The EWHC season runs until mid-February 2019.

National Hockey League: Although not planned for the near future, the NHL stated that having franchises based in Europe is inevitable. The league would need multiple teams for travel purposes and any new European market would need an NHL-style arena.

SOCCER

Canadian Premier League: The new professional CPL, which plans to start play in 2019 with seven teams across Canada, has purchased the Ontario-based pro-am senior league known as League1 Ontario to serve as a provincial developmental league for the CPL. League1 Ontario started play in 2014 and operated with an 18-team men's division and a 13-team women's division in its most recent 2018 season.

United Soccer League Division-III League (USL League One): The Madison (WI) team that will be part of the new USL Division-III league to be called USL League One announced it will be called Forward Madison FC when the league starts play in 2019. "Forward" is the Wisconsin state motto.

National Women's Soccer League: The NWSL announced the order for its college player draft to be held in January 2019 for the league's nine teams, so it looks like there will be no expansion for the 2019 season. The Los Angeles FC of Major League Soccer was considering a women's NWSL team, possibly for a start in the 2020 season. Over the past year or two, FC Barcelona has been mentioned as wanting to organize a women's NWSL team to be based in the Southern California area, but nothing new has been reported.

OTHER

Major League Quidditch: After completing its fourth season this past summer, MLQ announced plans to reevaluate the viability of each franchise going forward. The league had 16 teams aligned in four-team regional divisions for each of its first four seasons, although the Boise Grays team was suspended early in the 2018 season due to player misconduct. As a result of the franchise evaluations, the MLQ could reformat the divisions and move or relocate some franchises. Quidditch is a competitive, full-contact, mixed-gender sport played by athletes around the world and was adapted from the game played in the Harry Potter series of books and movies. The MLQ game involves two seven-player teams with each player mounting a broomstick as they run up and down a field about the size of a hockey rink trying to score points by tossing a volleyball-like quaffle into one of three opposing team's hoops.

National Lacrosse League: The indoor NLL and the Professional Lacrosse Players Association came to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement and details on the start of the 2018-19 season are still to be announced. The NLL had cancelled the first two weekends of the season that was to start next weekend.

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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Pioneer League Stories from November 26, 2018


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