Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
May 13, 2019 - American Association (AA)
American Association: The independent American Association starts its 2019 season this week and again has 12 teams aligned in six-team North and South divisions. The Wichita Wingnuts did not return from last season, since the team lost its home stadium that is being replaced by a new stadium for a Triple-A Pacific Coast League team. The league added the expansion Milwaukee Milkmen team that was placed in the North Division, while the Sioux Falls (ND) Canaries were moved to take Wichitas spot in the South Division. The American Association season runs until the first week of September 2019.
Frontier League: The independent Frontier League started its 2019 season this week with ten teams aligned in five-team East and West divisions. The league had 12 teams in 2018, but owners of the Traverse City (MI) Beach Bums of the East Division and the Normal (IL) CornBelters of the West Division moved those teams to summer-collegiate leagues for the 2019 season. The new Traverse City Pit Spitters are now part of the Northwoods League, while the Normal CornBelters are part of the Prospect League. The Traverse City Beach Bums had joined the Frontier League for the 2006 season after the sale and relocation of the leagues Richmond (IN) Roosters franchise, while the Normal CornBelters were a 2010 expansion team. The 2019 Frontier League season runs until the first week of September.
United Shore Professional Baseball League: The developmental USPBL started its 2019 season this week and features the same four teams as last season. Teams include the Eastside Diamond Hoppers and Utica Unicorns in the East and the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers and Westside Woolly Mammoths in the West. The USPBL schedule includes a total of 75 games all played at the Jimmy Johns Field in Utica (MI) through September 8, 2019. The USPBL is for players between the ages of 18 to 25. The USPBL has been trying to expand its concept to other stadiums in the Midwest.
Empire Professional Baseball League: The independent EPBL announced the Old Orchard Beach (ME) Surge has relocated to become the Saranac Lake (NY) Surge for the 2019 season.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The new professional CEBL started its inaugural 2019 season this with six teams called the Edmonton (Alberta) Stingers, Fraser Valley Bandits (Abbottsford, British Columbia), Guelph Nighthawks (Ontario), Hamilton Honey Badgers (Ontario), Niagara River Lions (Ontario) and the Saskatoon-based Saskatchewan Rattlers. Each team will play a 20-game schedule through mid-August 2019. The owner of the Niagara River Lions team, which played three fall-winter seasons (2015-18) as part of the National Basketball League of Canada, organized the new spring-summer CEBL with the five other new teams. The CEBL plays under international FIBA rules and is a partner with the Canada Basketball national organization. A single entity operates all teams and the league hopes to expand to 12 teams in the future.
The Basketball League: The ten-team TBL, which operated as North American Premier Basketball (NAPB) for its inaugural 2018 winter-spring season and recently completed its inaugural 2019 season, announced a new team called the Dallas Skyline has been added as an expansion team. Last year, the league announced a new team called the Dallas Redbirds that was supposed to start play in 2020, but that ownership group did not work out.
Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA, which is affiliated with the mens American Basketball Association, recently announced a three-division alignment for the 17 participating teams in the 2019 season. The six-team Region #1 has the new HC Lady Jayhawks (Harford County, MD) joining the returning DC Cyclones (Washington), Jersey Expressions (Newark), Long Island (NY) Storm, Maryland Jewels (Clinton) and Mount Vernon (NY) Shamrocks. The five-team Region #2 includes the returning Cleveland Blaze and Steel City Queens (Pittsburgh) with the expansion Chicago Legends, Gary Indiana Sun Rays and Midwest Sound (St. Louis). The six-team Region #3 has the returning Atlanta Angels, Coastal Empire Lady Monarchs (Hinesville, GA), Gastonia (NC) Greyhounds and Macon (GA) Blue Diamonds (last seasons Dublin-based Middle Georgia Lady Pitts) with the new Montgomery (AL) Lady Magic and TriCity Lady Blackhawks (Columbus, GA). The WABA is looking to establish a West Coast division of teams for the 2020 season.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF announced it has terminated the Frisco-based Texas Revolution for failing to meet league standards. The team was a charter member of the CIF for the league's inaugural 2015 season. The Texas Revolution traces its history back to the Arkansas Twisters (Little Rock) team that played ten seasons (2000-09) in the former arenafootball2, joined the Indoor Football League (IFL) as the Arkansas Diamonds and lasted only one season (2010) before relocating to become the Allen (TX) Wranglers for the next two seasons (2011-12) in the IFL. The Wranglers moved to Frisco as the Texas Revolution and the team played two more seasons (2013-14) in the IFL before joining the CIF.
New England Arena League: The proposed new NEAL has scaled back its plans for the 2019 season that will now be considered a"test run" of its "beta model" with a full schedule planned for 2020. Apparently, some of the leagues proposed teams were not financially ready to start in 2019. The NEALs home arena for all games has also moved from the Longplex Center in Tiverton (RI) to the New England Premiere Sportsplex in Danvers (MA). The 2019 season schedule features a total of only three dates starting next weekend with the New England Cavalry and Vermont Bucks each playing three games and the Massachusetts Wolverines and the Beantown Bullies each playing only two games. The Bullies will actually be represented by non-league teams for its two scheduled games.
American Arena League: The AAL's Georgia Doom (Macon) with a 1-3 record has suspended operations for the remainder of the 2019 season. The Georgia Doom was a 2017 travel-only team in the National Arena League before joining the AAL for the 2018 season. Another AAL team called the New England Bobcats (N. Billerica/Lowell, MA) is also reported to be dropping from the league. The Bobcats were a 2018 member of Elite Indoor Football before joining the AAL for the 2019 season.
National Women's Hockey League: The NWHLs Buffalo Beauts ownership, which also owns the National Hockey Leagues Buffalo Sabres, has turned control of the team back to the NWHL. The Beauts, along with this past season's expansion team called the Minnesota Whitecaps, were the only privately owned teams, while the league operated its other three teams in Boston, Newark and Connecticut. This announcement, along with last weeks player boycott, raises questions about the leagues future.
Federal Hockey League: The FHL officially announced this week the new Danbury (CT) Hat Tricks expansion team for the 2019-20 season.
Western Hockey League: With the relocation of the major-junior WHL's Kootenay Ice from Cranbrook (British Columbia) to become the Winnipeg Ice (Manitoba) for the 2019-20 season, the Ice will move from the Central Division to the East Division next season and the Swift Current Broncos will move from the East Division to the Central Division.
Major League Soccer: The Miami-based 2020 MLS expansion team known as Inter Miami CF won a court dispute and can move forward with demolition of Fort Lauderdales Lockhart Stadium. The site will become home to a new 18,000-seat soccer stadium that will serve as a temporary home for the MLS team when it starts play in 2020. The site will also include an Inter Miami CF training facility and the stadium will become home to a new affiliated Division-II United Soccer League Championship team. A competing group wanted to renovate Lockhart Stadium for its own USL Championship team and sought a court order to stop the stadiums demolition.
United Women's Soccer: The elite-level UWS started its 2019 season this week and currently lists 23 teams aligned in an eight-team East Conference, a six-team Midwest Conference, a four-team Southwest Conference and a five-team West Conference. New teams for 2019 include the Syracuse Developmental Academy, San Antonio Athenians, Queen City United (Regina, Saskatchewan) and AFC Ann Arbor (MI).
Women's Professional Lacrosse League: The WPLL recently posted the schedule for its second season in 2019 that will feature all five returning teams called the Baltimore Brave, New England Command, New York Fight, Philadelphia Fire and Upstate Pride (Albany, NY). The short WPLL season has each team playing four games from June 1 to July 20, 2019. Games will be played over five different weekends in Richmond (VA), Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Long Island (NY).
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames, which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in todays sports world. The publication is available for sale at www.amazon.com.
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