Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
December 31, 2018 - Federal Hockey League (FHL)
Expedition League: The summer-collegiate Expedition League's two expansion teams for the 2019 season will be called the Fremont (NE) Moo and the Wheat City Whiskey Jacks (Brandon, Manitoba). The Expedition League played its inaugural season in 2018 with eight teams aligned in a four-team Lewis Division and a four-team Clark Division.
Futures Collegiate Baseball League: The Martha's Vineyard (MA) Sharks of the summer-collegiate FCBL are looking to move to the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the 2019 season.
Major League Baseball: An investor group wants to build a new baseball stadium in Las Vegas for an MLB team and then try to obtain a franchise either through expansion or relocation. The group trying to bring an MLB team to Portland (OR) announced a preliminary proposal for a new stadium to be built on property owned by the Port of Portland, but financing for the project has not been finalized. The group trying to bring an MLB team to Montreal released results of a study indicating high levels of support for a team from the business community and residents, but a new stadium would need to be built for a team. The Tampa Bay Rays have dropped plans for a new stadium in the Ybor City area and will continue to search for a new stadium location. The Rays' current lease at Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season. Although the Rays have been mentioned as a relocation candidate, ownership recently stated its intention to try to keep the team in the Tampa Bay area.
National Basketball Association: The owner of the NBA's Phoenix Suns stated if the city does not approve financing for renovations of its current arena, the team could be moved to Las Vegas or Seattle. This statement was soon retracted and the team expressed its commitment to Phoenix. There was some frustration by ownership that a vote scheduled for this week on the renovation proposal was postponed until January 23, 2019. The Suns' current arena lease allows the team to opt out in 2022 if the arena is considered to be obsolete.
Midwest Basketball League: The semi-pro MBL has expanded into Texas for its 2019 season with the addition of teams called the Houston Mavericks, Texas Revelation (Dallas), Dallas Kings and Questlife Warriors (Dallas) in a new four-team South Division. New teams called the Eagan (MN) Bulldogs and the Great Plains Bison (Winnebago, NE), which had been part of the 2018 Great Plains Basketball Association, have been added to the West Division. Currently, the MBL lists a nine-team West Division, a five-team Central Division and a seven-team East Division to go with the new four-team South Division.
Women's Basketball Development Association: The developmental semi-pro Women's Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL), which has operated a summer season since 2005, recently came under new ownership and has been renamed the WBDA. The WBDA is still working out the details for the 2019 season, but it currently lists 23 teams in a 14-team Eastern Conference and a 9-team Western Conference. At least 13 of the 23 WBDA teams listed were part of the 2018 WBCBL, along with some new teams like the Fort Myers Bobcats, Orlando Boom, Canton (OH) Storm, TC Queen Elite (Twin Cities, MN), Birmingham Queens, New Jersey Sting, Oakland Rise, Philadelphia Reign and Las Vegas Gems. The Milwaukee Aces have join the WBDA from last season's Global Women's Basketball Association. The WBDA considers itself as a bridge between the college and professional level of women's basketball.
Global Women's Basketball Association: The semi-pro GWBA has teams called the Charlotte Invasion, St. Louis Surge and Topeka Shock listed as new members for its fourth season in 2019. Charlotte and St. Louis were part of the 2018 Women's Blue Chip Basketball League.
Great Plain Basketball Association: The new GPBA completed its inaugural 2018 season this fall with a North Division of teams called the Elk Soldier (Marty, SD), Great Plains Bison (Winnebago, NE), Native Kings (Winnebago, NE), Sioux City (IA) Outlaws and Sioux Nation (Santee, NE). A proposed South Division that was to include teams called the St. Joseph (MO) Scorpions and Kansas City (MO) Stampede did not get off the ground as planned for the 2018 season.
Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional: Mexico's top professional outdoor football league known as the LFA will be holding a player combine next month in Mexico City to showcase its players for possible drafting by the Canadian Football League (CFL). The LFA will play its fourth season in 2019 with teams playing an eight-game season from February 22 to April 14, 2019, while the CFL's 2019 season will start in mid-June. The LFA will grow from six to eight teams in two four-team divisions for the 2019 season with the addition of the new Osos de Toluca to the North Division and the Artilleros de Puebla to the Central Division.
National Football League: The NFL's Oakland Raiders are currently without a home venue for the 2019 season as the team prepares for its move to a new stadium in Las Vegas for the 2020 season. There has been discussion about the team playing all 2019 home games in London (England) or possibly at AT&T Park, home of Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants.
National Indoor Football League: The return of the proposed NIFL, which played as an indoor league from 2001 through the 2007 season, was announced back in 2016 and now reports it will start play in 2019. The league currently lists 23 possible markets under consideration.
Eastern Hockey League: The Tier-III EHL dropped the Lehigh Valley Rebels (Whitehall, PA) team from the 2018-19 schedule earlier this month for using an underage player. Last week, it was incorrectly reported that the Lehigh Valley Rebels were part of the United States Premier Hockey League.
Federal Hockey League: The lower-level minor professional FHL is looking to expand into some southern U.S. markets with Columbus (GA) under consideration. A Columbus Cottonmouths team last played in the 2016-17 season of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). The SPHL is also interested in Columbus, but last year rejected an application from a team called the Columbus Burn.
USL League Two (United Soccer League): The Michigan Bucks of the USL League Two, formerly known as the Premier Development League, will announce the team's new name next month. This was based on a name-the-team contest as the Bucks move from Saginaw to Flint for the 2019 season. A new USL League Two team to be based in Dalton (GA) for the 2019 season will be the lower-level affiliate for the Chattanooga Red Wolves team in the new Division-III USL League One that starts play in 2019.
Major League Soccer: The MLS has come to an agreement for a new group to operate the Columbus Crew SC starting next month. This will allow the team to remain in Columbus where plans are being developed for a new soccer-specific stadium. The Crew's current operator, Precourt Sports Venture, was looking to move the team to Austin, but instead was granted rights to a new Austin-based MLS expansion team that is expected to start no later than the 2021 season.
Premier Arena Soccer League: The PASL, which is considered to be the third-level of indoor soccer behind the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) and its MASL 2, started its 2018-19 season earlier this month with a seven-team Great Lakes Division and a six-team Midwest Division. Three MASL 2 teams called the Chicago Mustangs, Cincinnati Swerve and Detroit Waza Flo have affiliated teams in the PASL's Great Lakes Division.
Western Indoor Soccer League: The 2018-19 season of the WISL, which is an elite-level men's league based in the state of Washington, started early last month with six teams aligned in one table. The WISL had five teams last season, but added the new Tacoma Narrows FC for the 2018-19 season. The WISL's Bremerton-based Olympic Force was renamed the Olympic Peninsula Force, or the Oly-Pen Force, for the 2018-19 season. Teams each play a ten-game schedule that runs until early February.
Arena Lacrosse League: The Canadian indoor ALL started its third season this weekend with the same seven Ontario-based teams as last season. Teams for the 2019 season include the Oshawa Outlaws, Paris RiverWolves, Peterborough Timbermen, St. Catharines ShockWave, Six Nations Snipers (Hagersville), Toronto Monarchs and Whitby Steelhawks. Teams will play a 14-game schedule through March. The ALL will also operate a 2019 women's division, which started play last season with a short schedule involving five teams affiliated with men's ALL teams.
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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