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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 15, 2019 - NBA G League (G League)

BASEBALL

New York-Penn League: The Connecticut Tigers (Norwich) of the short-season Class-A NYPL are seeking fan input to rename the team for the 2020 season with "Norwich" to be part of the name. The team came to Norwich with the relocation of the Oneonta (NY) Tigers for the 2010 season.

Pioneer League: After failing on plans to build a new ballpark in Pueblo (CO), the owner of the Orem (UT) Owlz of the advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League is now considering a move of the team to Edmonton (Alberta), if a lease can be arranged at a local ballpark. A team called the Edmonton Trappers was the city's last affiliated team in the 2004 season of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The city also had an independent pro baseball team called the Edmonton Capitals that last played in 2011.

Carolina League: The high Class-A Carolina League started play last week and again has ten teams aligned in five-team Northern and Southern divisions. The league's Buies Creek Astros spent the past two seasons at a temporary location and became the Fayetteville (NC) Woodpeckers for this season as part of a move to a new downtown stadium. The two other high Class-A leagues also started play last week with the same teams as last season. The California League has 8 teams in four-team North and South divisions and the Florida State League (FSL) has 12 teams in six-team North and South divisions. The FSL's Kissimmee-based Florida Fire Dogs have been offered $500,000 from the Osceola County Commission to terminate is lease after this season. The team is in the final year of a three-year lease agreement.

Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: The Triple-A level LMB, or Mexican Baseball League, started its 2019 season this week with the same 16 teams as last season aligned in eight-team Norte (North) and Sur (South) divisions. During the off-season, the LMB had announced it would contract by four teams but those teams were later reinstated for 2019. Expansion to 18 teams was also discussed but did not happen for 2019.

Midwest League: The low Class-A Midwest League started play last week with the same 16 teams aligned in eight-team Eastern and Western divisions. The other low Class-A league called the South Atlantic League also started play last week with the same 14 teams aligned in seven team Northern and Southern divisions.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The National Basketball Association's New Orleans Pelicans formally announced the Erie (PA) BayHawks as its NBA G-League affiliate starting with the 2019-20 season. The Pelicans' G-League affiliate will be based in Erie temporarily for the next two seasons, and possibly a third season, as renovations are completed at the affiliate's permanent home in Birmingham (AL). Another Erie BayHawks team was the G-League affiliate of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks for the past two seasons, but the Hawks are moving their affiliate closer to Atlanta for the 2019-20 season to a new arena being completed in College Park (GA) for the renamed College Park Skyhawks. With the Pelicans obtaining its own G-League affiliate, the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets are the league's only teams without single G-League affiliations.

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA held its player draft for the upcoming 2019 season that will feature the same 12 teams as last season aligned in six-team Eastern and Western conferences. The 2019 WNBA regular season will run from late May to mid-July.

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced new teams called the Chicago Angels and the Phoenix Valley Outlaws (Arizona) have been added as 2019-20 expansion teams.

Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA, which is affiliated with the men's American Basketball Association, now lists the San Diego Sprint and Topeka Shock as league members. The Topeka Shock is listed on the 2019 summertime schedule for the Global Women's Basketball Association.

Mid-South Basketball Association: The new semi-pro MSBA announced a new team called the Columbus (OH) Crusaders will join for the league's second season in 2020.

FOOTBALL

National Arena League: The NAL started its third season this week with six teams each playing 14 games through July 2019. The NAL 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 and they will join the returning teams called the Carolina Cobras (Greensboro, NC), Columbus (GA) Lions, Jacksonville Sharks and Massachusetts Pirates (Worcester) for the 2019 season.

Elite Indoor Football: As the semi-pro EIF started its 2019 season this weekend, the league announced a new team called the Louisville Kings will join for the 2020 season.

American Arena League: Two AAL teams are already having home arena issues as the league headed into its fourth week. After playing one home game under poor arena conditions, the Burgh Defenders (Pittsburgh) postponed a home game last weekend and will not play any home games at its current venue unless it can play on a different field at the complex. The AAL's Georgia Doom (Macon) has lost its home venue and postponed a planned home game for this weekend. Just prior to the start of the 2019 season, the AAL's new Chicago Aztecs team announced it was cancelling its season.

The Spring League: The developmental TSL recently completed its 2019 spring session in Austin with four teams called the TSL East, TSL North, TSL West and Austin Generals (originally TSL South), each playing two games over the past week.

HOCKEY

United States Premier Hockey League: The Syracuse Stars, which had 2018-19 teams in the USPHL's Tier-II National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) and Tier-III Premier Division, has merged with the Utica Jr. Comets organization and will take the Utica Jr. Comets name starting next season. The Utica Jr. Comets program has been comprise of teams at various younger levels of play under the Mohawk Valley Youth Hockey Association.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The city of Sacramento approved a financial incentive package for a proposed MLS stadium that is expected to help the city's chances of obtaining an MLS expansion team. The 2020 MLS expansion team called Inter Miami CF unveiled designs for its proposed new stadium called Miami Freedom Park. The team still needs to finalize a land lease agreement for the site.

National Women's Soccer League: The professional Division-I NWSL started its 2019 season schedule this week 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 is now called simply the Reign FC.

National Premier Soccer League: The Muskegon Risers SC announced it will join the men's elite-level NPSL for the 2020 season. The Risers played last summer as part of the United Premier Soccer League and played indoor this winter as part of the Major Arena Soccer League 2. The Risers will play an independent outdoor schedule this summer.

OTHER

American Ultimate Disc League: The professional AUDL started its 2019 season last weekend with 21 teams aligned in a four-team West division, a five-team South division, and six-team Midwest and East divisions. The league had 23 teams last season, but the Nashville Nightwatch did not return to the South division and the San Francisco FlameThrowers did not return to the West division. The AUDL regular season runs through mid-July.

National Lacrosse League: With the indoor professional NLL expanding by two teams next season, there has been speculation as to how the league will realign its 13 teams. The NLL issued a statement that it is considering realignment scenarios, but has not yet approved a change to the divisional alignment.

Major League Rugby: As the professional MLR moves through its second season, the league announced its expansion plans and new conferences for its third season in 2020. The MLR will add 3 teams called the New England Free Jacks (Boston), Old Glory DC (Washington, DC) and Rugby ATL (Atlanta) and will; grow to 12 teams aligned in six-team Eastern and Western conferences.

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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