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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 14, 2019 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)

BASEBALL

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, announced this week the start of a name-the-team contest that will run until January 21, 2019.

Futures Collegiate Baseball League: The New England-based summer-collegiate FCBL announced an expansion team will be added in Westfield (MA) for the 2019 season. A team name and logo will be announced next month.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a team called the Wisconsin Game Changers (Appleton) will be part of the 2019-20 ABA season. The Game Changers were affiliated with the Midwest Basketball League and are currently listed as part of the National Professional Basketball Association.

BIG3 League: The BIG3 professional 3-on-3 basketball league, which has featured eight touring teams consisting of former National Basketball Association players for the past two summer seasons of 2017 and 2018, announced it will add four more teams for the 2019 season. One of the four new teams will be called the Triplets with the remaining three team names to be announced in the near future. The league will also expand the number of cities to be visited during the 2019 touring season.

FOOTBALL

Arena Football League: The AFL will reportedly hold a news conference later this month to announce an expansion team to be based in Atlantic City (NJ) for the 2019 season.

New England Arena League: The proposed new semi-pro NEAL announced a team called the Rhode Island Riptide (Cranston) will be part of the league's inaugural 2019 season. The Riptide is also a member of the outdoor adult amateur New England Football League. Other teams announced so far include the New England Cavalry, which played as a travel team in the 2018 American Arena League, and the Mass Wolverines (South Hadley, MA). The NEAL plans to have six to eight teams all playing at one venue.

Elite Indoor Football: The semi-pro EIF has posted a 2019 schedule featuring seven teams called the Carolina Aviators (Winston-Salem, NC), High Point (NC) Wildcats, Georgia-Lina Lions (Augusta, GA), Ancient City Steelers (St. Augustine, FL), Tampa Bay Tigers, Southern Steam (Statesboro, GA) and Southern Renegades (Sulligent, AL). The majority of EIF games are scheduled to be played at the Statesboro Indoor Sports complex.

International Arena Football League: The proposed new IAFL announced a seventh team called the Rio Grande Valley Dorados (Hidalgo, TX) will be part of the league's inaugural 2019 season. An indoor team called the Rio Grande Valley Dorados was based in Hidalgo (TX) for six seasons (2004-09) as part of the former arenafootball2 (af2). The IAFL has posted a schedule running from early March to late June 2019 for seven teams, although there are only four venues hosting games. A previously announced team called the Houston Wolverines was briefly listed as the Shuttle, but is currently listed simply as "Houston".

National Football League: An attorney in Tucson has proposed the NFL's Oakland Raiders use Arizona Stadium on the campus of Tucson's University of Arizona as a temporary home for the 2019 season, prior to the Raiders' move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

HOCKEY

International Developmental Hockey League: The lower minor professional Federal Hockey League (FHL) still lists the IDHL as the official development league of the FHL, but the IDHL has yet to start league play. The goal of the IDHL was to have up to six teams in a senior hockey league that would serve as a feeder league to the FHL. The IDHL owns and operates the FHL's Watertown (NY) Wolves team.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS announced its 2019 season schedule this week that will feature an increase from 23 to 24 teams with the addition of the expansion FC Cincinnati to the Eastern Conference. This will create a 12-team Eastern Conference to go with the 12-team Western Conference. Each team will play a 34-game schedule from early March to early October 2019. The MLS held its player draft this week to help stock FC Cincinnati. The MLS officially announced the new investor-operator group that will now run the Columbus Crew SC and work to build a new 20,000-seat soccer stadium for the team. The former operator in Columbus had tried to move the team to Austin (TX), but will now run a new MLS expansion team that was granted for the Austin market. The MLS is expected to make an official announcement on the Austin team next week.

National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL held its player draft this week for its 2019 season that will feature the same nine teams as last season. The league managing director stated there will be no expansion for 2019, but expansion could happen for the 2020 season. The NWLS does not want to rush into expansion and would rather take its time to add quality teams in the future.

United Soccer League Championship: It looks like plans will not move forward right now on a 20,000-seat soccer stadium in the Lincoln Yards area of Chicago that was hoped to become home to a team in the Division-II USL Championship, formerly the United Soccer League. The impact on local traffic in the area is considered as the main reason for rejecting the project.

OTHER

Professional Bowlers Association - League: The PBA League will again play its 2019 season in Portland (ME) with eight five-player teams participating in competition from July 16 to 18. The PBA League will be entering its seventh season of play and this will be the fifth consecutive season based in Portland.

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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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.


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