Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
March 4, 2019 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
Eastern League: The Binghamton (NY) Rumble Ponies of the Double-A Eastern League will play a game during the 2019 season as the Binghamton Stud Muffins, which was one of four finalists in a name-the-team contest when the Binghamton Mets were renamed the Rumble Ponies prior to the 2017 season.
Carolina League: The Carolina Mudcats (Zebulon, NC), an affiliate of Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers and a member of the high Class-A Carolina League, will play four games in the 2019 season as the Carolina Micro Brews. The city of Fredericksburg (VA) broke ground last weekend on the new 5,000-seat ballpark that will become home to the league's relocated Potomac Nationals (Woodbridge, VA) team, which will be renamed the Fredericksburg Woodpeckers for the 2020 season.
International League: The Syracuse Mets of the Triple-A International League will take the name of the Syracuse Butter Sculptures for one game in the 2019 season as a tribute to the butter sculpture attraction at the New York State Fair.
Pacific Coast League: The Fresno Grizzlies of the Triple-A PCL will return with its "Taco Tuesday" promotion for nine home games during the 2019 season in which the team will play as the Fresno Tacos.
Pacific Association of Baseball Clubs: The Martinez (CA) Clippers of the California-based independent Pacific Association might not play in the league's 2019 season due to ownership's financial and legal issues. The league is trying to find new local investors to keep the team alive or, if that does not happen, is considering a travel-only team as a replacement in 2019 to keep the league at an even six teams. The Martinez Clippers were a 2018 expansion team along with the Napa (CA) Silverados.
Major League Baseball: The MLB announced a three-year partnership to use the independent Atlantic League to test experimental rules and equipment during the regular season. The city of Long Beach (CA) has reached out to the Los Angeles Angels about a possible downtown waterfront stadium for the Angels.
Futures Collegiate Baseball League: The new Westfield (MA) team in the summer-collegiate FCBL announced it will be called the Westfield Starfires when its starts play in the 2019 season. The league's North Shore Navigators (Lynn, MA) will be renamed the Lynn Sailors for a series of games in the 2019 season as a tribute to the city's former Lynn Sailors team in the Double-A Eastern League.
Global Women's Basketball Association: The GWBA recently announced a new Oshkosh-based team called the Wisconsin Glo has been added for the league's 2019 spring-summer season. Other teams listed for 2019 are the Flint Monarchs, Music City Icons (Nashville), St. Louis Surge and Topeka Shock. Teams called the Tennessee Fever (Jackson) and Charlotte Invasion are no longer listed for 2019.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The proposed new professional CEBL announced it will hold its inaugural player draft on March 16, 2019 for its six member teams. The CEBL season will run from May 5 to August 15, 2019 with teams called the Edmonton Stingers (Alberta), Fraser Valley Bandits (Abbotsford, British Columbia), Guelph Nighthawks (Ontario), Hamilton Honey Badgers (Ontario), Niagara River Lions (St. Catharines, Ontario) and the Saskatchewan Rattlers (Saskatoon) each playing a 20-game schedule.
National Gridiron League: The proposed new indoor NGL announced its inaugural 2019 season schedule will run from March 30 to July 29, 2019 and will feature 12 teams aligned in six-team Eastern and Western conferences. The current NGL alignment has a six-team Eastern Conference with the Georgia Wildcats (Albany), Indiana Blue Bombers (Fort Wayne), Indiana Firebirds (Evansville), Pennsylvania Pioneers (Wilkes-Barre), Virginia Destroyers (Norfolk) and the Virginia Iron Horses (Roanoke), while the Western Conference includes the Arkansas Twisters (Little Rock), Kansas Kapitals (Topeka), Louisiana Red Sticks (Baton Rouge), Mississippi Mudcats (Jackson), St. Louis Stampede (St. Charles) and Texas Bighorns (Beaumont).
Legends Football League: The women's indoor LFL, formerly known as the Lingerie Football League before a rebranding in 2013, will return in 2019 with the same eight teams as last season with each team playing a four-game schedule from April 5 to August 10, 2019. The Eastern Conference will again feature the Atlanta Steam (Duluth, GA), Chicago Bliss, Nashville Knights and Omaha Hearts, while the Western Conference will include the Austin Acoustic, Denver Dream (Loveland, CO), Los Angeles Temptation (Ontario, CA) and the Seattle Mist (Kent, WA).
Arena Football League: The AFL's new Atlantic City (NJ) expansion team for the 2019 season plans to announce its name next week.
United States Hockey League: The Midwest-based Tier-I USHL, which is the highest-level junior hockey league under USA Hockey, announced the Bloomington-based Central Illinois Flying Aces team has been approved for a temporary one-year withdrawal and will not participate in the 2019-20 season. The team's ownership will evaluate opportunities so the team can return for the 2020-21 season. A dispersal draft of Flying Aces players will be held after this season. The USHL is operating this season with 17 teams in an eight-team Western Conference and a nine-team Eastern Conference, which includes the Central Illinois Flying Aces.
North American Hockey League: USA Hockey's Tier-II junior-level NAHL will add two teams called the New Mexico Ice Wolves (Albuquerque) and the Maine Nordiques (Lewiston) for the 2019-20 season to increase the league to 26 teams. The NAHL had a previous team called the New Mexico Mustangs in nearby Rio Rancho (NM) for two seasons (2010-12). The NAHL's Tier-III league, the NA3HL, has a current team called the L/A Nordiques (Lewiston/Auburn) that will continue playing next season in Lewiston as an affiliate of the NAHL team. The Tier-III United States Premier Hockey League, which is not affiliated with USA Hockey, has the Twin City Thunder playing across the river from Lewiston in Auburn (ME) and will add another Auburn-based Twin City Thunder team next season as part of the USPHL's Tier-II National Collegiate Development Conference.
Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League: The Ontario-based CPJHL, which is a Tier-III league under the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union, has folded the Coldwater Ice Wolves franchise due to disciplinary issues with some of the players. The remaining players in good standing have been placed on other CPJHL teams for the rest of the season.
Canadian Premier League: The new professional CPL announced its inaugural 2019 season schedule that will include all seven teams playing a 28-game schedule. Each team will play a 10-game spring season from late April to early July and an 18-game fall season from early July to mid-October. The champion from each season will meet in a final match to determine an overall winner.
Major League Soccer: The Division-I professional MLS started its 2019 season this weekend with 24 teams aligned in a 12-team Eastern Conference and a 12-team Western Conference. MLS grew by one team this season with the addition of FC Cincinnati to the Eastern Conference and the rest of the teams remained the same. FC Cincinnati evolved from a Division-II team by the same name that played the past three seasons (2016-18) in the United Soccer League, which is now the USL Championship. Nashville and Miami will join MLS next season with the 25th and 26th teams and Austin with the 27th team in 2021. MLS is expected to announce the home of its 28th team this year and is said to be considering future expansion beyond a total of 28 teams.
Major League Rugby: Two of the three expansion teams to be added to the professional rugby-union MLR for the 2020 season recently announced their team names. The new Atlanta-based team will be called Rugby ATL, while the new Washington (DC) team will be called Old Glory DC. A third Boston-based 2020 expansion team was previously announced as the New England Free Jacks. The MLR started play in 2018 with seven teams and expanded to nine teams for the 2019 season that started last month.
Premier Lacrosse League: The proposed new professional outdoor lacrosse PLL, which will be a six-team touring league starting in June 2019, announced its six participating teams will be called the Archers LC, Atlas LC, Chaos LC, Chrome LC, Redwoods LC and Whipsnakes LC. The PLL games will be played as part of weekend events in 12 major markets. Boston, New York City and Chicago have been announced as the first three tour locations.
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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