Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
December 17, 2018 - Pacific Coast League (PCL)
Pacific Coast League: The new Wichita-based Triple-A PCL team, which will be the relocated New Orleans Baby Cakes starting with the 2020 season, will start accepting new team name suggestions and then narrow the list to about 20 names sometime in January.
Golden State Collegiate Baseball League: The Medford (OH) Rogues team, which was part of the summer-collegiate Great West League (GWL) the past three seasons (2016-18), has come under new ownership and will move to the summer-collegiate GSCBL in 2019. The GWL suspended operations for the 2019 season, so several former GWL teams have moved to different leagues.
Prospect League: A new team called the DuPage Pistol Shrimp (Lisle, IL) will be the 12th team in the 2019 season of the summer-collegiate Prospect League. The league has had two previous teams called the DuPage Dragons for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and the DuPage Drones for the 2016 season.
East Coast Basketball League: The semi-pro ECBL announced a team called the Winston-Salem (NC) Wolves will be part of its 2019 season. This team replaces the league's Winston-Salem Certified team that was released by the league prior to developing the 2019 schedule. The Wolves will not start play until March of the 2019 season schedule that will run from mid-January to early June. The ECBL's current alignment has 16 teams aligned in 4 four-team divisions with most of the teams located in the Carolinas.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The new six-team CEBL recently announced its inaugural 2019 schedule that will feature each team playing 20 games from early May to mid-August. The league also announced a partnership with Canada Basketball, the governing body for basketball in Canada, to serve as the first Division One professional league under Canada Basketball and play under the rules and regulations of FIBA, the international governing body for basketball.
American Arena Football: The AAL announced the teams and alignment for it 2019 season that will feature a four-team Northern Division and an eight-team Southern Division. The Northern Division will include the returning New Jersey Flight (Trenton) and West Virginia Roughriders (Wheeling), which operated as the Richmond (VA) Roughriders last season, along with new Pittsburgh Defenders and the New England Bobcats (Billerica/Lowell, MA), which operated as part of the 2018 Elite Indoor Football. The Southern Division will include seven returning teams called High Country Grizzlies (Boone, NC), Charlotte Energy (was Carolina Energy in 2018), Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC), Peach State Cats (Athens, GA), Georgia Doom (Macon), Carolina Havoc (Florence, SC), which operated as the Atlanta Havoc in the 2018 season, and the Carolina Cowboyz (Pendleton/Anderson, SC), which was a 2018 AAL travel-only team. The Southern Division will also include an expansion team called the Carolina Predators based out of Greenville (SC).
Arena Football League: The four-team AFL is rumored to be expanding to six teams for the 2019 season with Columbus (OH) and Atlantic City (NJ) mentioned as possible locations for two new teams.
Fan Controlled Football League: The start of the proposed interactive FCFL, which plans to be the first fan-controlled professional sports league with fans electronically calling plays, announced it will hold five player combines at five locations across the United States as the league begins to organize teams for its start in June 2019. The league will play 7-on-7 indoor football on a 50-yeard field with all games played at one location that will be more of a digital studio production for online participation.
National Arena League: The NAL plans to announce next week a new 2019 expansion team to be based in New York City. Earlier this year, a potential ownership group for a team called the New York Streets filed an application with the NAL. Last month, the owner of a team called the Orlando Terminators said the team would be part of the 2019 NAL, but there has been no official league announcement.
American Patriot League: The proposed new APL professional outdoor football league recently announced Shreveport (LA) as the league's fourth market when its starts play in the spring of 2019. The APL's other announced markets are Daytona Beach, Mobile and Sacramento. The APL is planning to have two four-team divisions called Liberty and Freedom.
USA Central Hockey League: The Texas-based junior-level USACHL has folded after only about six weeks of play in its inaugural 2018-19 season. The league was down to only two teams called the Laredo Bucks and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (Hidalgo) after the Texas Lawmen (McAllen) folded due to a lack of players and the Wichita Falls (TX) Force shut down after being locked out of its home arena. The league was unable to schedule games for its remaining two teams against outside competition, so the Laredo and Rio Grande Valley teams also shut down operations this week.
Western Hockey League: The major-junior WHL stated there is nothing new to report about rumors that the league's Kootenay Ice will be relocating to Winnipeg next season and as of now the team is remaining in Cranbrook, British Columbia.
USL Championship: The Division-II USL Championship league, formerly known as the United Soccer League, announced its 2019 league alignment will feature 36 teams aligned in 18-team Eastern and Western conferences. The league had 33 teams last season, but the FC Cincinnati (to Major League Soccer in 2019), Richmond Kickers (to USL League One in 2019), Penn FC (to USL League One in 2020) and Toronto FC II (to USL League One in 2019) did not return. The league added seven new teams with the Austin Bold FC, El Paso Locomotive and New Mexico United placed in the Western Conference, and the Birmingham Legion FC, Hartford Athletic, Loudoun United FC (Virginia) and Memphis 901 FC placed in the Eastern Conference. The St. Louis FC and Swope Park Rangers were moved to the Eastern Conference to even out the number of teams in the conferences.
There is some concern the USL Championship's only Canadian team called the Ottawa Fury FC might be blocked from playing in the league in 2019. The CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), which is the continental governing body for association football (soccer) in North America, has not sanctioned the Ottawa Fury FC for the USL Championship in 2019 and is trying to force the team to be part of the new professional Canadian Premier League that plans to start play in 2019 with seven previously announced teams. The Ottawa Fury FC had already received sanctioning from the Canadian Soccer Association and the U.S. Soccer Federation for participation in the USL Championship for the 2019 season. The Ottawa Fury FC plans to protest the CONCACAF ruling.
National Premier Soccer League: A new team called the San Ramon (CA) FC has been added to the men's elite-level NPSL as a 2019 expansion team. The team will be placed in the West Region's Golden Gate Conference.
Major Arena Soccer League 2: The MASL 2, which is a lower-level professional league affiliated with the Major Arena Soccer League, announced the five teams and schedule for its 2018-19 Pacific Division that will start play later this month. The league's two other five-team Eastern and Mountain divisions started play earlier this month. The Pacific Division will included the returning Las Vegas Knights, Ontario Fury II and San Diego Sockers 2, along with expansion teams called the Arizona Lightning (Avondale/Phoenix) and Stockton Rush. Last season's Arizona Impact (Glendale) will sit out the 2018-19 season, but plans on returning next season.
National Lacrosse League: After a two-week delay due to negotiations on a labor agreement with the players' association, the indoor NLL started its 2018-19 season with this week with 11 teams aligned in a six-team Eastern Division and a five-team Western Division. The expansion Philadelphia Wings were added to the Eastern Division and the expansion San Diego Seals were added to the Western Division. The Vancouver Stealth came under new ownership and was renamed the Vancouver Warriors for the 2018-19 season. The NLL also announced its 13th franchise will be based on Long Island in the New York market starting next season. Possible team names are the New York Force, New York Riptide and New York Beacons. The league's 12th franchise to be added next season was previously announced for Rochester (NY), as the NLL's current Rochester Knighthawks team relocates to Halifax (Nova Scotia) next season. However, the new Rochester team will keep the Knighthawks name, while the NLL has trademarked the Halifax Privateers as a possible name for the relocated Knighthawks team.
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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