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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
February 25, 2019 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL)

BASEBALL

Minor League Baseball: The MiLB, whose member leagues and teams are affiliated with Major League Baseball, will hold a second Copa de la Diversi?"n (Fun Cup) during the 2019 season that will feature 72 teams adopting temporary names to honor their Latinx communities and cultures.

The Western League: The Western League, which is a new winter showcase and prospect exposure league operated by the independent Pecos League, is in the middle of its inaugural 2019 season that runs from February 7 through March 2, 2019 and features four teams called the Bakersfield Blues, Great Bend Boom, Hollywood Stars and Salina Stockade. All games are being played at Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield (CA).

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association: The NBA, along with the International Basketball Association known as FIBA, is organizing a new 12-team professional basketball league in Africa to be called the Basketball Africa League. The league will start play in January 2020 and will include teams from countries such as Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

National Basketball Association G-League: The NBA's Atlanta Hawks announced its new G-League affiliate will be called the College Park (GA) Skyhawks when the team starts play in the 2019-20 season. The Hawks' G-League affiliate has been playing as the Erie (PA) BayHawks since the 2017-18 season while waiting for a new arena to be completed in the College Park area of Atlanta. Next season, the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans will place its new G-League affiliate in Erie as a new version of the Erie BayHawks until a renovated arena is ready for the team's eventual move to Birmingham (AL) as early as 2022.

The Basketball League: The ten-team TBL, which evolved for its 2019 season from the 2018 league known as North American Premier Basketball (NAPB), announced an expansion team called the Rochester (NY) Revolution will be added in 2020 along with a previously announced new team called the Dallas Redbirds. The 2018 NAPB had a team called the Rochester RazorSharks, but the team's owner decided to leave the renamed TBL about a month before the start of the 2019 season.

East Coast Basketball League: The men's semi-pro ECBL announced the Carolina Thunder will move its home games from Hartsville (SC) to Latta (SC) for the 2019 season that starts next month.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The IFL started its 2019 season this weekend with ten teams aligned in a single-table format. All six teams from last season returned, although the Cedar Rapids (IA) Titans became the Cedar Rapids River Kings under new ownership. The IFL added the Bismarck (ND) Bucks and Quad City Steamwheelers (Moline, IL) from last season's Champions Indoor Football, along with two expansion teams called the Tucson Sugar Skulls and San Diego Strike Force. The IFL originated in the 2009 season.

American Arena League: The AAL announced the High Country Grizzlies (Boone, NC) have been removed for the upcoming 2019 season schedule for failure to meet league standards. The Grizzlies joined the AAL for the 2018 season after playing its first season in the 2017 National Arena League.

New England Arena League: The proposed new NEAL, which will start play in April 2019 with all games held at the Longplex facility in Tiverton (RI), announced a fifth team called the Beantown Bullies (Boston) has been added. The league wants to start with eight teams and announced Hartford (CT) for its sixth team. The NEAL stated Maine (Augusta or Portland) is also under consideration for a team.

American West Football Conference: The proposed new AWFC will start its inaugural 2019 season with only four teams instead of five. The league's previously announced fifth team called the Sacramento Spartans was having home venue issues and will not be part of the AWFC season that starts next month.

Canadian Football League: The CFL signed a partnership agreement with Italy's American-style football league called the Federazione Italiana di American Football to grow the game of football in both countries. Over the past few weeks, the CFL signed similar partnerships with leagues in Mexico, Germany, Austria, France, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Legends Football League: The women's indoor LFL, formerly known as the Lingerie Football League before a rebranding in 2013, is teaming up with European partners to create the new LFL Nations League of Europe (LFLNLE) for a start in September 2021. The new league will start with six national clubs in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain and Belgium. Additional expansion is being planned for teams in France, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, Russian and Ukraine. The LFL has been trying to organize a European league for the past several years.

Arena Football League: The AFL announced its Columbus (OH) expansion team for the 2019 season will be called the Columbus Destroyers. This was the name of the city's team that played five seasons (2004-08) in the original AFL until the league filed for bankruptcy and was reorganized into its current version for the 2010 season. The original AFL team had played five seasons (1999-2003) as the Buffalo Destroyers before relocating to Columbus.

HOCKEY

Southern Professional Hockey League: The ten-team SPHL is reported to be considering expansion and appears to be interested in a return to Columbus (GA), which hosted the league's Columbus Cottonmouths from 2004 to 2017. A new ownership group tried to bring a team called the Columbus Burn into the SPHL in 2017, but its application was rejected by the league. The Federal Hockey League has also expressed interest in the Columbus market for possible expansion.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: The professional Division-I NWSL announced its 2019 season schedule that will feature nine teams aligned in a single-table format with each team playing a 24-game schedule from mid-April to mid-October. The only change from last season was the move of the Seattle Reign FC to Tacoma where the team will be called simply the Reign FC. The league will take a schedule break in June for the 2019 Women's World Cup.

Major League Soccer: The new MLS expansion team in Nashville announced this week the team will take the name of Nashville SC when its starts play in the 2020 season. The team's ownership operates a current Division-II team by the same name in the USL Championship, formerly the United Soccer League. The Division-II Nashville SC started play in 2018 in anticipation of an eventual move up to MLS.

National Premier Soccer League - Founders Cup: The new NPSL Founders Cup, which will be a new professional competition operated by the amateur NPSL, recently announced its six-team East Region will start play on August 10, 2019 and its five-team West Region will start play on August 24, 2019 with the regular season running through October. The competition is expected to lead to a full league with a spring-to-fall schedule in 2020.

OTHER

National Lacrosse League: The indoor professional NLL announced the New York Riptide (Long Island) and the Halifax Thunderbirds (Nova Scotia) as names for its two new teams to be added next season. New York is considered an expansion team, while Halifax will be the NLL's relocated Rochester Knighthawks franchise. Next season, Rochester will receive an expansion franchise under the ownership of the league's Buffalo Bandits and that team will take the Rochester Knighthawks name.

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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