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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

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

BASEBALL

International League: The Louisville Bats of the Triple-A International League will take the name of the Derby City Mint Juleps for two regular-season games next month as a tribute to the drink associated with the Kentucky Derby.

South Atlantic League (SALLY): The Kannapolis (NC) Intimidators of the low Class-A SALLY received over 1,200 nickname suggestions from fans as the team changes its name to coincide with a move to a new downtown ballpark in 2020. The current nickname was a tribute to racing legend Dale Earnhardt and the new name will try to relate to other aspects of the city's history. The new team name cannot be announced until after the 2019 season.

Northwoods League: Plans for a new 2,500-seat ballpark in Waukesha (WI) for a proposed summer-collegiate Northwoods League team have been cancelled due to the city's rejection of a financing plan for the project.

BASKETBALL

Mid-South Basketball Association: The inaugural season of the new MSBA got underway this weekend with six teams called the Music City Kings (Nashville), Kentucky Flash (La Grange), Kentucky Warriors (Richmond), St. Louis Trotters, Smoky Mountain Black Bears (Knoxville) and Tennessee Sting (Nashville) listed in the standings. The Flash, Warriors and Black Bears were part of the 2018 National Professional Basketball Association (NPBA), the Kings played last year in the Minor League Basketball Association and the St. Louis Trotters played last year as part of the NPBA after several seasons in the Independent Basketball Association. The MSBA schedule has a total of 36 games through June 1, 2019.

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), will start its 2019 season later this month with only nine teams. The league previously announced ten teams for the 2019 season, but the Garra Canera de Navolato team dropped out for the 2019 season in late January and a player draft was held last month for nine teams. The Garra Canera joined the league in 2012 and team ownership will try to bring the team back in 2020.

East Coast Basketball League: The semi-pro ECBL started its fifth regular-season of springtime basketball last weekend with 16 teams aligned in a Northern Conference with four-team Northeast and Northwest divisions and a Southern Conference with four-team Southeast and Southwest divisions. The ECBL had 16 teams last season, but the C-Port Trojans (Savannah, GA), South Carolina All Stars (Greenville, SC) and Winston-Salem (NC) Certified did not return. The league added three new teams called the Winston-Salem Wolves, Carolina Chosen Lions (Rocky Mount, NC) and Fayetteville (NC) Panthers. The 2019 ECBL season runs until the first week of June.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a team called the Illinois Panthers, to be based about 50 miles west of Chicago in DeKalb (IL), will start play as a 2019-20 expansion team.

Women's Minor League Basketball Association: The WMLBA, which played with only four Texas-based teams in its second summertime season last year, stated the league will start its third season on June 14, 2019. The league stated it has added several teams for 2019, but they have yet to be announced.

FOOTBALL

National Arena League: The NAL announced the teams and schedule for the league's third season in 2019 that will feature six teams each playing 14 games from mid-April through July. The league had six teams last season but the Maine Mammoths (Portland) and Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (Allentown, PA) did not return. The league added two expansion teams called the New York Streets (Westchester County) and Orlando Predators that will join the returning teams called the Carolina Cobras (Greensboro, NC), Columbus (GA) Lions, Jacksonville Sharks and Massachusetts Pirates (Worcester) for the 2019 season.

Arena Football League: The AFL announced the new Atlantic City (NJ) expansion team will be called the Atlantic City Blackjacks when it starts play in the 2019 season. Gamblers, High Rollers, Jackpot and Royals were the other nickname finalists. The AFL had four teams last season, but added the Columbus (OH) Destroyers and Atlantic City for the 2019 season. Atlantic City had a previous indoor team called the Atlantic City CardSharks as part of the 2004 season in the former National Indoor Football League.

International Arena Football League: The new IAFL played the first regular-season game of its inaugural 2019 season this weekend. The league schedule runs through June and lists six teams called the Austin Wild, Football Mexicah (Mexico City), Rio Grande Valley Dorados (Hidalgo, TX), San Antonio Knights, Tampico Lagartos (Mexico), and Temple (TX) Demons. A previously announced team called the Dallas Trojans is no longer on the schedule or the team list, which now includes teams called the Arlington Longhorns and South Texas Armadillos.

New England Arena League: The proposed new NEAL announced a new team called the Ocean State Sharks (North Smithfield, RI) has been added for the league's inaugural 2019 season. The team will be an indoor affiliate of the semi-pro outdoor Rhode Island Wardogs from the New England Football League.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: A development group and investors have proposed plans for a 7,500-seat arena in the Ronkonkoma area of Long Island (NY) with hopes of luring a potential AHL team. The arena would be part of a project that would also include a 6,000-seat soccer stadium for a proposed team in the new Division-III league called USL League One. There are also plans for a possible women's professional hockey team for the new arena and a women's soccer team at the new soccer stadium.

National Roller Hockey League: The professional NRHL plans to restart play in May 2019 and recently stated it is close to announcing two additional teams based in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The NRHL has already announced teams for Detroit (Dragons), Muskegon (MI) and St. Louis.

SOCCER

USL Championship: The Division-II USL Championship league, formerly known as the United Soccer League, started its 2019 season this week with 36 teams aligned in an 18-team Eastern Conference and an 18-team Western Conference. The league had 33 teams last season, but lost four teams and added seven new teams for 2019. Of the non-returning teams, the FC Cincinnati organization moved up to Major League Soccer, while the Richmond Kickers, Toronto FC II and Penn FC (Harrisburg, PA) moved to the new Division-III USL League One, although Penn FC will sit out the 2019 season and start play in 2020. The seven new teams include the Austin Bold FC, El Paso Locomotive and New Mexico United in the Western Conference, and the Birmingham Legion FC, Hartford Athletic, Loudoun United FC (Virginia) and Memphis 901 FC placed in the Eastern Conference. The St. Louis FC and Swope Park Rangers were moved from the Western to the Eastern Conference to even out the conferences. The league's Seattle Sounders II was moved to Tacoma and renamed the Tacoma Defiance FC for the 2019 season.

OTHER

World TeamTennis: The WTT announced the addition of two expansion teams called the Orlando Storm and the Vegas Rollers (Las Vegas) that will increase the league to eight teams for the 2019 season. The WTT's most recent Florida-based team was the Florida Twist (Bradenton and Sarasota) that played two seasons (1994-95). Las Vegas almost had a WTT team called the Las Vegas Neon for the 2014 season with the relocation of the Sacramento Capitals, but the league terminated the Las Vegas Neon franchise prior to the 2014 season due to legal and financial issues surrounding the team's owner.

Premier Lacrosse League: The proposed new professional outdoor lacrosse PLL, which will be a six-team touring league starting in June 2019, announced Baltimore as the fourth location to host one of the league's 12 weekend events. The PPL will co-host the Baltimore event on June 22 and 23 with the five-team Women's Professional Lacrosse League (WPLL), which will be starting its second season of play in 2019 and recently announced a partnership with the PLL. The Baltimore event will feature both PLL and WPLL games. The WPLL has the Baltimore Brave as one of its teams.

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 March 11, 2019


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