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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 28, 2019 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)

BASEBALL

Eastern League: The Altoona (PA) Curve of the Double-A Eastern League will be renamed the Allegheny Yinzers for seven home games during the 2019 season as a tribute to the second-person plural "yinz" that is used by residents of Western and Central Pennsylvania.

Fiesta Winter League: The proposed new FWL is trying to start play in October 2019 with all games to be played at the Ray Kroc Baseball Complex in Yuma (AZ). The league has three potential team names listed as Caneros (San Luis), Canucks (Yuma) and Viperz (Somerton).

Northwoods League: The new Traverse City (MI) team in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League plans to announce the team's name next week from six nickname finalists: the Black Pearls, Dogmen, Dune Bears, Pit Spitters, Sasquatch and Tree Shakers. This past year, investors purchased the city's Wuerfel Park from the owner of the independent Frontier League's Traverse City Beach Bums and started the Northwoods League team as a replacement for the Frontier League team.

Pecos Spring League: The independent Pecos League has posted the schedule and teams for its eighth season of its showcase Pecos Spring League that will run from March 22 to April 10 with all games played at a complex in Houston. The five teams include the Coastal Kingfish, Garden of Gears, Houston Apollos, Salina Stockade and Topeka Train Robbers. Spring league players pay for the opportunity to be evaluated by the Pecos League and other independent leagues trying to sign players for the upcoming summer season.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a team called the Central Florida Mix (Orlando) has been added as a 2019-20 expansion team. The ABA has had some former Orlando-based teams; most recently the Orlando Waves played in the past two ABA seasons (2016-18).

BIG3 League: The BIG3 professional 3-on-3 touring basketball league announced the Aliens and the Bivouac as names for two more of its four expansion teams for the 2019 season. The Triplets name was previously announced so one more expansion team has yet to be named.

Liga Mexicana de Baloncesto Profesional Femenil: The Mexican professional women's basketball league known as the LMBPF recently announced it will play with nine teams for its 2019 season that will run from early March to mid-May. All eight teams from last season will return along with a new team called the Escaramuzas de Guadalajara.

Midwest Basketball League: The semi-pro MBL recently posted its 2019 season schedule that will run from early April through June. The current league standings now include 27 teams aligned in four regions: a seven-team East, a nine-team West, a six-team South and a five-team Central. Two new teams called the Arlington Dream Chasers and Fort Worth Foxes were recently added to the new Texas-based South region. The MBL also announced it will be adding another region in 2020 with teams based in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

National Basketball Association: The NBA's Phoenix Suns and the city council have come to an agreement over financing for renovations to the city's Talking Stick Arena. The Suns' ownership had mentioned Las Vegas or Seattle as a possible destination for the team if renovations were not approved.

FOOTBALL

Arena Football League: The AFL announced a new team based in Atlantic City (NJ) will be added as a fifth team for the 2019 season. The new team will be run by Trifecta Sports and Entertainment, which will also operate the league's Albany Empire and Philadelphia Soul teams. Fans can submit suggestions for a team name that will be announced in the near future. A former indoor football team called the Atlantic City CardSharks played the 2004 season in the defunct National Indoor Football League.

American West Football Conference: The proposed new AWFC indoor football league announced its inaugural 2019 season schedule that will feature five teams called the Idaho Horsemen (Nampa), Reno Express, Sacramento Spartans, Tri-Cities Fire (Kennewick, WA) and the Wenatchee Valley (WA) Skyhawks. Each team will play 12 games from late March to early July 2019.

Canadian Football League: The CFL and Mexico's professional outdoor football league called the Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional (LFA) recently held a player combine in Mexico City with the CFL drafting several LFA players for the 2019 CFL season. 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.

Elite Indoor Football: The semi-pro EIF has added teams called the Youngstown (OH) Federals and the Rochester Kings to its list of 2019 teams. The Federals report the team will be part of a North Division that will include Rochester and some other teams from Central Pennsylvania. The Rochester Kings were part of the 2018 American Arena League.

HOCKEY

National Collegiate Development Conference: The Twin City Thunder (Auburn, ME), which joined the independent United States Premier Hockey League's Tier-III level Premier Division for the 2018-19 season, will also operate a team next season in the USPHL's top Tier-II and tuition-free NCDC.

Manitoba Junior Hockey League: A group in Grand Forks (ND) recently applied to join the Junior-A level Canadian Junior Hockey League's MJHL for the 2019-20 season. Grand Forks is about 80 miles south of the Canadian border and the province of Manitoba.

Superior International Junior Hockey League: The Junior-A level Canadian Junior Hockey League's SIJHL announced a new team called the Spooner (WI) Lumberjacks will be added for the 2019-20 season. A Spooner-based team called the Wisconsin Wilderness last played in the 2013-14 SIJHL season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: Billionaire financier Ron Burkle has agreed to purchase a controlling interest in the Sacramento Republic FC of the Division-II USL Championship, formerly the United Soccer League, and that should help the organization's chances of securing an MLS expansion team. The Sacramento Republic FC has been part of the Division-II league since the 2014 season. A site has been selected for a proposed MLS stadium and the city is considering some stadium infrastructure financing. The MLS plans to announce another expansion team this year with St. Louis and Phoenix also under consideration.

United Soccer League - Championship: The ownership of the Boise Hawks baseball team in the short-season Class-A Northwest League signed a franchise agreement for a team in the Division-II USL Championship, formerly known as the United Soccer League. The deal is contingent on construction of a new downtown stadium that would be shared by the Hawks and the soccer team.

USL (United Soccer League) League Two: With the Statesboro-based South Georgia Tormenta FC moving up as a charter member of the new professional Division-III USL League One for the 2019 season, the club will continue to operate a 2019 team called Tormenta FC 2 in the developmental USL League Two, formerly the Premier Development League (PDL). The South Georgia Tormenta FC played the past three seasons (2016-18) as part of the PDL before moving to the Division-III professional level.

OTHER

Major League Rugby: The professional MLR started its second season this weekend and has grown from seven to nine teams with the addition of expansion teams called the Toronto Arrows and Rugby United New York (New York City). All seven teams from last season called the Austin Elite, Glendale Raptors (Denver), Houston SaberCats, NOLA Gold (New Orleans), Utah Warriors (Salt Lake City), San Diego Legion and Seattle Seawolves have returned for the 2019 season. Each team will play a 14-game schedule that runs until early June 2019. The MLR is planning further expansion in 2020 with at least three new teams located in Atlanta, Boston (New England Free Jacks) and Washington (DC).

National Pro Fastpitch: The women's NPF announced its 2019 season schedule that will feature six teams playing from late May to mid-August. The league operated with five teams last season, but added the new Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois (Marion) that is composed of Canadian players and operated by Softball Canada. All five teams will return from last season, although the Aussie Spirit, which was a 2018 travel team based in Shawnee (KS) and comprised of players from the Australian national team, has found a home in North Mankato (MN) and was renamed the Aussie Peppers. The team is a partnership between Softball Australia and the local Mankato Peppers youth softball organization. The other returning teams include the Chicago Bandits, Cleveland Comets, USSSA Pride (Viera, FL) and the Beijing Shougang Eagles, comprised of Chinese national players and based in Daytona Beach (FL).

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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