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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 29, 2019 - Atlantic League (AtL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League started its 2019 season that again features eight teams aligned in four-team Liberty and Freedom divisions. The new High Point (NC) Rockers team replaced the league’s 2018 Road Warriors travel team in the Liberty Division. The Road Warriors had been created for the 2018 season to keep the league at eight teams when the Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish shut down operations after the 2017 season. The Atlantic League has expressed interest in placing a team in the Pawtucket (RI) market and its McCoy Stadium, which will become available after the 2020 season when the Pawtucket Red Sox of the Triple-A International League relocate to Worcester (MA). Another group is interested in placing an affiliated baseball team in Pawtucket, but that would require obtaining territorial approval from Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox.

New York-Penn League: The Aberdeen (MD) IronBirds of the short-season Class-A NYPL will play one game in August of the 2019 season under the Aberdeen Legacy name as a tribute to the team’s owners, former Major League players Bill and Cal Ripken.

BASKETBALL

Women's Basketball Development Association: The WBDA, which formerly operated as the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL), started its 2019 season this weekend. The league currently lists 30 teams aligned in a 15-team Eastern Conference and a 15-team Western Conference. The WBDA season runs through July 2019. About half of the WBDA teams came over from the WBCBL, while others are new teams or teams that joined from other leagues.

American Professional Basketball League: As the APBL wraps ups its 2018-19 season, U.S. Basket reports the league’s New York City and Metro area teams have folded due to financial and operational issues. The APBL had a ten-team Metropolitan Conference and a seven-team Regional Conference for the 2018-19 season. The league championship game will feature two Regional Conference teams called the New Jersey Thunder and the Beltway Bombers. The APBL has been around since 2012.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced new teams called the Fresno Flaming Sun-Rays, Tampa Fury and a yet-to-be-named team in Sebring (FL) have been added as 2019-20 expansion teams. The Tampa Fury will be operated by the ownership of the ABA’s Sarasota Manatees.

FOOTBALL

Arena Football League: The AFL started its 2019 season this weekend with six teams each playing a 12-game schedule through July 21. Last season's four returning teams called the Albany (NY) Empire, Baltimore Brigade, Philadelphia Soul and Washington (DC) Valor are joined by two expansion teams called the Atlantic City Blackjacks and the Columbus (OH) Destroyers.

American Arena League: The AAL has added the Kentucky Xtreme (Louisville) to its Midwestern Division as a replacement for the Chicago Aztecs team that dropped from the league right before the start of the 2019 season. A developmental indoor team called the Jersey Bearcats (Metuchen) played a game this week against the AAL’s New England Bobcats. The Bearcats are a member of the Major Indoor Football League and will play a game next month against the AAL's Jersey Flight (Trenton). The AAL announced it is in discussions with leagues and additional teams for expansion in 2020.

Women's National Football Conference: The new women’s full-contact WNFC started its inaugural 2019 season earlier this month with 15 teams, many of which joined from other 2018 women’s football leagues. The WNFC seasons runs through early June 2019.

HOCKEY

Federal Hockey League: The FHL is expected to add a new team called the Danbury (CT) Hat Tricks for the 2019-20 season with an official announcement coming next week. The FHL had two previous Danbury teams called the Danbury Whalers for five seasons (2011-15) and the Danbury Titans for two seasons (2015-17). The city council in Columbus (GA) approved a five-year lease with an ownership group that will bring an FHL team to the city's Civic Center starting with the 2019-20 season. The city’s most recent professional hockey team was the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League. That team ceased operations after the 2016-17 season. The new FHL team is not expected to be named the Cottonmouths and a team name is expected to be determined by fan voting.

North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II North American Hockey League, recently announced some team changes for the 2019-20 season. The Cape Cod Islanders will relocate to become the Canton (MA) Cubs and the Niagara Falls PowerHawks will move to become the Danbury (CT) Colonials. It had been rumored that Rapid City (SD) would become the new home to the PowerHawks. The NA3HL's Binghamton (NY) Junior Senators will relocate to become the Elmira (NY) Soaring Eagles, the Oswego (NY) Stampede will move to Raynham (MA) to become the New England Knights, and the Wisconsin Whalers (Oregon) will relocate to become the Sheridan (WY) Hawks. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights of the Tier-II NAHL will operate a new lower-level NA3HL team for the 2019-20 season.

United States Hockey League: The Midwest-based Tier-I USHL, which is the highest-level junior hockey league under USA Hockey, held a player dispersal draft this week for the Bloomington-based Central Illinois Flying Aces team that requested a temporary one-year withdrawal from the league. The team joined as a 2014-15 expansion team called the Bloomington Thunder, which changed to the Central Illinois Flying Aces for the 2017-18 season.

SOCCER

Canadian Premier League: Canada's new professional CPL started its inaugural 2019 season this weekend with seven teams called the Cavalry FC (Calgary, Alberta), FC Edmonton (Alberta), Forge FC (Hamilton), HFX Wanderers (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Pacific FC (Langford, British Columbia), Valour FC (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and York 9 FC (Greater Toronto Area). All teams will play a 28-game schedule with a 10-game spring season from late April to early July and an 18-game fall season from early July to mid-October.

United States Arena Professional Soccer League: The new Texas-based USAPSL started its inaugural 2019 season this weekend with four teams originally called FC Amarillo, FC Lubbock, FC West Texas (Odessa) and FC Wichita Falls. Over the past couple of weeks each team adopted a nickname and teams are now the FC Amarillo Bombers, Lubbock Renegades FC, West Texas Rumbleweeds and the Falls Town Flyers FC. Lubbock is a travel-only team playing five games, while the other three teams will each play seven games through mid-July. The USAPSL ownership will operate all teams for now and it also runs the Amarillo Venom indoor football team in Champions Indoor Football.

OTHER

Major League Rugby: As MLR competes in its second season, it has entered into a strategic partnership with the governing body of rugby in the United States known as USA Rugby.

Premier Lacrosse League: The proposed new professional outdoor lacrosse PLL, which will be a six-team touring league starting in June 2019, recently announced Albany (NY) will host a weekend of regular-season games in late August 2019 and Philadelphia will host the league’s inaugural championship match.

Arena Lacrosse League: Canada’s elite-level ALL, which is a partner of the indoor National Lacrosse League, recently completed its 2019 season with each team playing 14 games from late December 2018 through March 2019. The league had the same seven Ontario-based men's teams as last season called the St. Catharines Shockwave, Peterborough Timbermen, Paris RiverWolves, Oshawa Outlaws, Toronto Monarchs, Six Nations Snipers and Whitby Steelhawks. The RiverWolves, Snipers, Shockwave and Steelhawks also had affiliated teams in the ALL Women’s Division with each team playing a 12-game schedule.

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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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.


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