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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
February 11, 2019 - American Hockey League (AHL)

BASEBALL

South Atlantic League (SALLY): The Kannapolis (NC) Intimidators of the low Class-A SALLY will change the team's nickname in 2020 to coincide with a move to a new downtown ballpark. The team was formerly the Piedmont Boll Weevils that changed to the Intimidators for the 2001 season as a tribute to racing legend Dale Earnhardt.

California Winter League: The instructional CWL, which is billed as the official winter league of the independent Frontier League, started its tenth season this week with ten teams called the Alberta Grizzly, British Columbia Bombers, Canada A's, Manitoba North Stars, New York Colonials, Oregon Lumberjacks, Palm Springs Chill, Palm Springs Power, Toronto Rush and Washington Blue Sox. The regular season runs until February 26, 2019 with all games again played at a complex in Palm Springs (CA). The league is a showcase for players trying to find a spot on a Frontier League team or other independent league teams that have representatives scouting talent for the 2019 summer season.

International League: The Durham (NC) Bulls of the Triple-A International League will be renamed the Durham Lollygaggers for one game during the 2019 season. The term was used in the "Bull Durham" 1988 baseball movie.

Eastern League: The Portland (ME) Sea Dogs of the Double-A Eastern League will be renamed the Maine Whoopie Pies for one game in the 2019 season as a tribute to the state's official treat.

United Shore Professional Baseball League: The USPBL announced the 2019 schedule for its fourth season that will feature the same four teams as last season. This will again include the Eastside Diamond Hoppers and Utica Unicorns in the East and the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers and Westside Woolly Mammoths in the West. The USPBL will play a total of 75 games at Jimmy John's Field in Utica (MI) from early May to early September 2019.

West Coast League: The owners of the Victoria HarbourCats (British Columbia) team in the summer-collegiate WCL wants to establish another WCL team on Vancouver Island in the city of Nanaimo, about 70 miles north of Victoria. The WCL's Gresham (OR) Greywolves team will not play again in 2019, but could return in 2020. The team played in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but due to poor attendance played a short, independent schedule last year.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a new Huntsville-based team called the North Alabama War Dawgs has been added as a 2019-20 expansion team.

BIG3 League: The BIG3 professional 3-on-3 touring basketball league announced the Enemies as the name for its fourth and final 2019 expansion team. The league operated with eight teams for its first two seasons, but will add the Enemies and three other previously announced teams called the Aliens, Bivouac and Triplets for an expanded 2019 schedule.

Women's Basketball Development Association: The WBDA, which formerly operated as the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League, announced teams called the Las Tucson Sol and AS1 (San Luis Potosi, Mexico) have joined for the 2019 season. Both teams have been added to the Western Conference.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: The CFL signed partnership agreements with European football leagues in Austria, France, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark this week, in addition to agreements previously signed with leagues in Germany and Mexico. As the CFL's proposed new Atlantic Schooners expansion team works toward building a new 24,000-seat stadium in Halifax (Nova Scotia), the team's ownership group would like the team to start play in 2020 with games played for the first one or two seasons at a temporary stadium in Moncton (New Brunswick).

Alliance of American Football: The new AAF winter-spring outdoor football league started play this weekend with eight new teams aligned in two four-team conferences. The Western Conference features the Arizona Hotshots (Phoenix), Salt Lake Stallions (Salt Lake City), San Antonio Commanders and San Diego Fleet, while the Eastern Conference includes the Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express and Orlando Apollos. Teams will each play a ten-game schedule ending April 14, 2019.

Arena Football League: The AFL announced it will add a sixth team for the 2019 season to be based in Columbus (OH). The original AFL had a Columbus Destroyers team that played five seasons (2004-08) until the league filed for bankruptcy and eventually was reorganized into its current version for the 2010 season. The AFL's other expansion team for 2019 to be based in Atlantic City (NJ) announced five fan-submitted nickname options: Blackjacks, Gamblers, Jackpot, High Rollers and Royals. Voting on the team name ended this week and the final nickname selection is still to be announced.

National Arena League: After playing only the 2018 season in the league, the NAL's Portland-based Maine Mammoths team announced it will not participate in the 2019 season as it continues to try to find new local ownership. The Mammoths' ownership group also owns the league's Carolina Cobras (Greensboro, NC) team. The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA) team, which played in the past two NAL seasons (2017-18) and has been up for sale since the end of the 2018 season, has been removed from the league directory. It looks like the NAL will again operate with six teams that will include four returning teams and two expansion teams called the New York Streets and Orlando Predators.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's new Seattle expansion team is reported to be considering Boise (ID) and Palm Springs (CA) as possible locations for its AHL affiliate when the team starts play for the 2021-22 season. Boise is currently home to the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL, which is a level below the AHL.

SOCCER

National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level NPSL announced the Toledo Villa FC (Ohio) has been added as a 2019 expansion team. The Toledo Villa FC was part of the adult-amateur United Premier Soccer League for its 2018 season.

U.S. Arena Pro Soccer League: The proposed new USAPSL, which played some exhibition games in 2018, has four Texas-based teams ready to start an inaugural season in April 2019. As of now, teams are listed as the FC Wichita Falls, FC Amarillo, FC West Texas (Odessa) and FC Lubbock (travel-only team), but some are holding contests to select actual team nicknames. The owner of the Amarillo Venom indoor football team in Champions Indoor Football is the organizer of the USAPSL.

Major League Soccer: MLS was reported to have met with officials from San Diego State University, which plans to build a new multi-purpose stadium for college football and professional soccer, to discuss the design of the new stadium and a possible San Diego-based MLS team becoming a tenant.

Ascenso MX: Mexico's second-level Ascenso MX, which is the relegation league for the men's top-level Liga MX, started the Clausura (Closing) portion of its 2018-19 two-part Apertura/Clausura season last month with the same 15 teams as those that competed in the July-to-November Apertura (Opening) portion. The Clausura runs from January 4 to April 13, 2019 with each team playing 15 games.

Liga MX Femenil: The top Mexican women's soccer league known as Liga MX Femenil started the Clausura (Closing) portion of its 2018-19 two-part Apertura/Clausura season last month with the same 18 teams aligned in nine-team groups as those that were part of the Apertura (Opening) portion. All 18 teams are affiliated with the 18 teams in the top men's professional league called Liga MX. Similar to the Liga MX, the Liga MX Femenil plays the first part of the season known as the Apertura from July to November 2018 and its second part of the season known as the Clausura from early January to late April 2019.

OTHER

Premier Ultimate League: The new women's semi-pro PUL, which was originally announced for a start in April 2019 with seven teams, will play its inaugural season with eight teams after the recent addition of a team called the Columbus (OH) Pride.

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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American Hockey League Stories from February 11, 2019


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