Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
January 21, 2019 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League recently announced its 2019 season schedule that will again feature 12 teams. Last season's Ruidoso (NM) Osos travel team will not return, but the league added a new team called the Wasco (CA) Reserves located just northwest of Bakersfield. The league operated with three four-team divisions (Mountain, Southern and Pacific) last year, but the 2019 alignment will feature two six-team divisions (Mountain and Pacific). A proposed new team called the Wichita Woodpeckers was announced back in October, but it did not materialize for the 2019 season. Each team will play a 64-game schedule running from late May to early August 2019.
The Western League: The Western League, which is a new winter showcase and prospect exposure league operated by the independent Pecos League, recently posted its inaugural 2019 season schedule that will run from February 7 through March 2, 2019. The league will feature four teams called the Bakersfield Blues, Great Bend Boom, Hollywood Stars and Salina Stockade. All games will be played at the Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield (CA).
New England Collegiate Baseball League: The summer-collegiate NECBL announced the Martha's Vineyard Sharks will join the league as a 2019 expansion team. The Martha's Vineyard Sharks had been part of the summer-collegiate Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) since that league's start in 2011. The Sharks had been in a dispute with the FCBL over their departure from the league.
Major League Baseball: A businessman has formed a potential ownership group that wants to bring an MLB franchise to Nashville. The investors involved in the group trying to bring an MLB franchise to Portland (OR) were announced and a potential stadium site has been selected. MLB has not yet established a timeline for expansion, but the commissioner has expressed interest in growing from 30 to 32 teams in the near future.
American Basketball Association - Australia: The ABA's proposed ABA-Australia league plans to start play in 2019 and announced its first team will be called the Melbourne Manta. Several other new teams are expected to be announced over the next few weeks.
Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): Mexico's Pacific Coast Basketball League known as the CIBACOPA, which is the country's second professional basketball league next to the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP), confirmed the addition of two new teams called the Mantarrayas de La Paz (Baja California) and the Guadalajara-based Gigantes de Jalisco for the upcoming 2019 season. These new teams will keep the league at ten teams since the Aguilas Doradas de Durango and Frayles de Guasave will not return for the 2019 season. Also, the Nauticos de Mazatlan were renamed the Venados de Mazatlan for the 2019 season that will start play in March.
North American Basketball League: Over the past few weeks, the semi-pro NABL announced seven teams that have been added for its fourth spring-summer season in 2019. These new teams include the Charleston (SC) Panthers, Lancaster (OH) Thunder, North Texas Saints (Fort Worth), Detroit Cobras, DFW United (Dallas/Fort Worth), Music City Kings (Nashville) and the Tennessee Stallions (Antioch). The DFW United and Music City Kings played in the NABL's first two seasons of 2016 and 2017.
Women's Basketball Development Association: The WBDA, which formerly operated as the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League, recently announced four more new teams for its 2019 season. These new teams include the Chicago Lady Rage, Greensboro (NC) Havoc, Kansas City Royal Heirs and the Lake Erie Strive, based in Irving (NY) about 35 miles southwest of Buffalo. Chicago and Kansas City have been added to the Western Conference and Greensboro and Lake Erie to the Eastern Conference.
American Arena League: The AAL has reached an agreement with the league known as Midwest Professional Indoor Football (MPIF) in which several MPIF teams will form a new AAL Central Division for the 2019 season. As of now, three MPIF teams called the West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon), Indianapolis Enforcers and Chicago Aztecs have been announced for the new AAL Central Division with the Midway Marauders to join in 2020. Additional 2019 teams are still under consideration for the new Central Division that expects to have teams in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri. Even with some MPIF teams moving to the AAL, the MPIF is still expected to operate again 2020 as a developmental league for the AAL.
American Patriot League: The proposed new APL professional outdoor football league recently announced Houston and Canton (OH) as its fifth and sixth team locations for its inaugural 2019 spring season. The APL's other announced markets are Daytona Beach, Mobile, Sacramento and Shreveport (LA). The APL plans to start play with eight teams and will soon announce the remaining two locations.
National Arena League: The NAL announced a team called the Orlando Predators will be added for the league's 2019 season. This team takes the name of a former Orlando Predators team that played 18 seasons (1991-2008) in the original Arena Football League (AFL) and seven seasons (2010-16) in the newer version of the AFL. The NAL is also adding the New York Streets as a 2019 expansion team.
New England Arena League: The proposed new semi-pro NEAL stated the league will play all of its 2019 games at the Longplex in Tiverton (RI). The NEAL currently lists three member teams with more teams expected to be announced after a league meeting is held next weekend.
National Roller Hockey League: After playing a 2015-16 season with four Detroit area teams, the professional NRHL has been revamped and has been trying to get off the ground with teams across the United States and Canada playing in a summertime professional roller hockey league similar to the former Roller Hockey International. The NRHL's proposed start is in May 2019. Over the past year, the NRHL announced the Detroit Dragons as its first 2019 team, along with other yet-to-be named teams in St. Louis and Muskegon (MI). The league would like to start with at least six teams and is targeting other markets like Dallas, Hampton Roads (VA) and London (Ontario).
Major League Soccer: The MLS officially announced the Austin FC expansion team as the league's 27th member and it will start play in the 2021 season at a proposed new 20,000-seat soccer specific stadium. The investor-operator group for the Austin FC operated the league's Columbus Crew SC and tried to move that team to Austin before the expansion team was granted. The Crew will remain in Columbus under a new investor-operator group.
National Premier Soccer League: The elite-level men's NPSL announced the Central Florida Panthers SC (Orlando) has joined the league for the 2019 season. The NPSL's Atlanta Silverbacks team announced a name change to Atlanta SC for the 2019 season. The team could not come to an agreement with the owners of its home venue at Silverbacks Park and it will look for a new home field for 2019.
Liga MX: Mexico's top Division-I soccer league known as Liga MX started play earlier this month in the Clausura (Closing) part of its 2018-19 two-part Apertura/Clausura season with the same 18 clubs that competed in the Apertura (Opening) part. The Apertura portion of the season ran from July to November, while the Clausura will run from January through April. Usually after a two-part season, a Liga MX team is relegated to the lower-level relegation league known as Ascenso MX and a team from the Ascenso MX is promoted to the Liga MX.
Premier Lacrosse League: The proposed new professional outdoor lacrosse PLL, which will be a six-team touring league starting June 2019, announced the 30 cities in the United States and Canada that are under consideration for the 12 venues that will host PLL games. During the PLL season, the six teams will make stops in 12 major markets and play three games during weekend events. The PLL team names and markets will be announced in the near future.
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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- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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