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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 1, 2019 - Midwest League (MWL)

BASEBALL

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: After playing one season in the 2018 independent California-based Pacific Association, the team called the Martinez Clippers filed for bankruptcy and will not be part of the 2019 season. The team's ownership was facing legal issues and attempts to find new ownership for the team were unsuccessful. The league has five remaining teams called the Napa Silverados, Pittsburg Diamonds, San Rafael Pacifics, Sonoma Stompers and Vallejo Admirals.

Midwest League: The Beloit (WI) Snappers of the low Class-A Midwest League are still trying to work out a shortfall in funding for a proposed new downtown stadium to avoid losing the franchise. The Snappers' current outdated stadium does not meet the standards of Minor League Baseball and the team was put on notice last year that its stadium was not acceptable as a long-team home for the team.

Arizona Fall League: Major League Baseball announced it will start the 2019 season of its AzFL in mid-September instead of its traditional October start. Since minor league regular-season schedules end in early September, this will allow the league's minor league prospects to move directly into the fall season with no layoff. The league also announced its six teams will play games at only four locations in 2019 due to renovations planned at stadiums in Surprise and Scottdale.

Major League Baseball: The group trying to return an MLB team to Montreal has a potential site picked out for a new stadium and it is in the process of trying to secure the land.

BASKETBALL

Minor League Basketball Association: The men's semi-pro MLBA started its third springtime season with 20 teams aligned in four conferences (Southeast, Mid East, Northwest and Southwest). Some of the new teams for 2019 include the Montgomery (AL) Knights, Wichita Wizards, Topeka Rail Runners, North Texas Saints, Texas Outlaws, Greenville (SC) Blazers and Atlanta Show.

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), started its 2019 season this week with nine teams in a single-table format. The league had ten teams last season, but the Frayles de Guasave, Aguilas Doradas de Durango and Garra Canera de Navolato did not return and new teams called the Gigantes de Jalisco and Mantarrayas de La Paz were added. The league's Nauticos de Mazatlan were renamed the Venados de Mazatlan for the 2019 season. Each team will play 17 games in a season that ends in early May.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced the Louisiana Kingdom Riders will be part of the 2019-20 season with dual homes in Lafayette and Shreveport. The Lake-Charles-based Lake City Kingdom Riders played a few games as a previous ABA member. The ABA League Australia announced a team called the Parramatta Wildcats, located in suburban Sydney, will be part of the new league. This past January the Melbourne Manta was announced as the league's first team.

Canadian Elite Basketball League: The new CEBL, which will start play in May 2019 with six teams called the Edmonton (Alberta) Stingers, Fraser Valley Bandits (British Columbia), Guelph Nighthawks (Ontario), Hamilton Honey Badgers (Ontario), Niagara River Lions (Ontario) and the Saskatchewan Rattlers, recently held its inaugural player draft.

FOOTBALL

Alliance of American Football: As the new AAF played its eighth set of games this week, there was speculation the league might not continue if it cannot operate as a true development league for the National Football League and use future potential NFL players on its teams. The NFL Players' Association would need to sign off on such an agreement between the two leagues.

Elite Indoor Football: The EIF announced the establishment of an EIF West Division with two pro teams called the Las Vegas Kings and Sacramento Spartans, along with six affiliate teams called the Las Vegas Saints, Southwest Vipers, Yuma Renegades, Desert Sentinels, Bakersfield Broncos and the California Rhinos. The Las Vegas Kings has been an independent indoor team that recently changed its name from the Las Vegas Cobras, while the Sacramento Spartans were originally announced as part of the American West Football Conference that started play this season, but dropped out due to arena issues.

American Arena League: The AAL's new Chicago Aztecs team, which joined from the 2018 league called Midwest Professional Indoor Football, announced on the day of its first AAL game that the team was cancelling its upcoming 2019 schedule. The AAL's Jersey Flight (Trenton) got a late start on their second season in the league when their head coach and general manager left the team earlier this month. For now, the Flight's 2019 season schedule has only six games--four against AAL teams and two non-league games - with only two home games. A team called the South Florida Thunder (Broward County) is apparently trying to join the AAL for the 2020 season.

New England Arena League: The proposed elite development NEAL announced its inaugural 2019 season will start on April 20. The league currently lists five teams and could add more before the start of the season. All league games will be played the Longplex Family & Sports Center in Tiverton (RI).

Indoor Football Association: The Rockford (IL) Rams team of the semi-pro IFA will no longer be part of the league for the remainder of the 2019 season.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: This week the AHL's San Antonio Rampage played the last of five games this season under the name Los Chimuelos de San Antonio in honor of its Hispanic heritage and the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). Los Chimuelos translates to "men who are missing teeth" and applies to hockey players that tend to have dental issues.

Greater Metro Junior-A Hockey League: The Ontario-based independent GMHL recently announced it will add an expansion team in Bancroft (Ontario) for the 2019-20 season. The league's Tillsonburg Hurricanes team has apparently folded during the 2018-19 season playoffs. The Hurricanes were a 2016-17 expansion team.

SOCCER

United Soccer League "" USL League One: The United Soccer League's new Division-III league known as USL League One started play this week with ten teams aligned in a single-table format. The league includes the FC Tucson and South Georgia Torment FC (Statesboro) from the USL's 2018 Premier Development League, now the USL League Two; the Richmond Kickers, Toronto FC II and the Orlando City B (dormant in 2018) from the Division-II United Soccer League, now the USL Championship; and five new teams called the Chattanooga (TN) Red Wolves, Forward Madison FC (Wisconsin), Greenville (SC) Triumph SC, Lansing (MI) Ignite and North Texas SC (Frisco). Two dormant teams called the Penn FC (Harrisburg, PA) and the Rochester (NY) Rhinos from the former Division-II United Soccer League are listed as 2020 expansion teams for USL League One.

National Independent Soccer Association: The new Division-III NISA, which will start play in the fall of 2019, announced Los Angeles as the sixth location for a team in the league's inaugural season. San Diego, New England (Connecticut), Atlanta, Charlotte and Philadelphia were previously announced for NISA teams. The NISA also lists Providence (RI) and Central Florida (possibly Daytona Beach) as team locations, but those have not been officially announced.

OTHER

U.S. Association of Rugby League: The men's elite-level USARL recently announced its 2019 spring-summer season schedule that will feature a five-team South Conference and a six-team North Conference. The South Conference will return the four teams from last season and add the new Lakeland (FL) Renegades club. The North Conference will have six of its seven teams return with the New York Knights not included in the 2019 season. The USARL is the national governing body for the sport of rugby-league.

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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