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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
May 20, 2019 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Can-Am League: The independent Can-Am League started its 2019 season this week and features the same six full-schedule teams called the New Jersey Jackals (Little Falls), Ottawa Champions (Ontario), Rockland Boulders (Ramapo, NY), Quebec Capitales (Quebec City), Sussex County (NJ) Miners and Trois-Rivieres Aigles (Quebec). Each team will play some games that count in the standings against two international teams, the Cuba National Team and a team from Japan's independent Shikoku Island League. A team of players from the independent Empire Professional Baseball League is also supposed to play a few games against some Can-Am teams during the 2019 season. The Can-Am League's 2019 season runs until the first week of September.

Major League Baseball: MLB's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are reported to be considering Long Beach (CA) as a possible site for its new home stadium. The Angels have had discussions with Long Beach officials, but the city has not committed any funding and the Angels have not committed to move. A meeting scheduled for this week between MLB officials and a group trying to bring an MLB team to Nashville was cancelled. MLB is not ready to move forward on expansion until stadium situations are settled in Oakland and Tampa Bay.

New York-Penn League: The Staten Island Yankees of the short-season Class-A NYPL will play seven games in the 2019 as the Staten Island Pizza Rats, which was one of the proposed nicknames when the team was considering a rebranding in 2016. A similar promotion was held last season.

Prospect League: The summer-collegiate Prospect League is looking to launch an expansion team in Decatur (IL) for the 2020 season. The team would play at Millikin University's baseball complex.

Expedition League: The summer-collegiate Expedition League is trying to establish a new team called the Rapid City (SD) Jackalopes for the 2020 season. The league's Spearfish (SD) Sasquatch owner is organizing the new team. The league completed its first season in 2018 with eight teams and added two more teams called the Fremont (NE) Moo and Wheat City Whiskey Jacks (Brandon, Manitoba) for 2019.

Atlantic League: A group trying to renovate the vacant LaGrave Field, which was home to an independent baseball team called the Fort Worth Cats from 2002 through the 2014 season, is pushing to put an independent team back in the stadium for the 2020 season with the Atlantic League and American Association considered as possibilities. The Atlantic League expressed interest in LaGrave Field a few years ago to establish a rival for its lone Southwest-based team called the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Houston area. The Fort Worth Cats played six seasons (2006-11) as part of the American Association, which currently has teams in Cleburne (TX), about 30 miles south of Fort Worth, and Grand Prairie (TX), about 20 miles east of Fort Worth.

BASKETBALL

Global Women's Basketball Association: The GWBA started its fourth season this week with four teams each playing about six games until early August 2019. Of the five teams from last season, only the Flint Monarchs returned and are joined by teams called the Music City Icons (Nashville), St. Louis Surge and Wisconsin Glo (Oshkosh). A fifth team called the Topeka Shock was originally listed on the 2019 schedule, but it has joined another league. Teams called the Chicago Breeze, Indianapolis Bandits, Milwaukee Aces and Illinois Hoopville Warriors (O'Fallon) did not return for the 2019 season.

Florida Basketball Association: The semi-professional FBA started its 2019 season last month with eight teams aligned in one table. The league had six teams last season, but the Jacksonville Royals did not return and the league added three new teams called the Winter Park Storm, Tampa Gunners and Fort Lauderdale Herd. The five returning teams include the Florida Flight (Orlando), St. Pete Tide (St. Petersburg), Space Coast Stars (Melbourne), Palm Beach Knights and the Poinciana Pride, now known as The Pride. The FBA season runs through July 2019.

The Basketball League: The owner of the previously announced 2020 TBL expansion team called the Rochester (NY) Revolution is moving the team to New Jersey where it has been renamed the Tri-State Admirals. The team will represent New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

American Basketball Association: The semi-professional ABA announced five new teams called the Brenham Purple Reign (Houston), Spa City Gamblers (Saratoga, NY), Las Vegas Pharaohs, North Texas Prowlers (Dallas area) and Henderson (KY) Hornets have joined for the 2019-20 season. The ABA also announced a team called the Texas Red Wolves, based in the San Antonio area, will return to the league after a two-year hiatus. The ABA's Weirton (WV) Widowmakers team is moving to the Pittsburgh area where the team will be called the Beaver County (PA) Indians.

FOOTBALL

Champions Indoor Football: With the recent folding of the CIF's Frisco-based Texas Revolution franchise, a team called the North Texas Savages (Coppell) will play the three remaining scheduled Revolution road games against the CIF's Duke City Gladiators, Oklahoma Flying Aces and Sioux City Bandits. The North Texas Savages are a member of the eight-man Fast 8 Football League.

International Arena Football League: The Rio Grande Valley Dorados (Hildalgo, TX) of the IAFL have had their lease terminated at the State Farm Arena. The team has also come under new ownership as it tries to find a new home for the rest of the season. The previous ownership owns rights to the “Dorados” name, so the team might also have to find a new name. The team was reported to be considering the Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg (TX), about 20 miles to the north, as a possible new home.

New England Arena League: The new NEAL, which will play a short “test run” of a season in 2019 with a full schedule planned for 2020, played its first official game this weekend between the New England Cavalry and the Vermont Bucks.

A-League: The new Florida-based indoor football league known as the A-League started its inaugural 2019 season this week. The original 2019 season schedule was scaled back and one of the league's four teams called the Lakeland Tarpons has been removed from the schedule. The current schedule has only the Gulf Coast Fire (Estero) hosting a few games with the Sarasota BigCats and Manatee Neptunes as competition.

HOCKEY

United States Premier Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level USPHL has added a new team called the Columbus (OH) Mavericks to its USPHL Premier Division for the 2019-20 season.

ECHL: The Manchester (NH) Monarchs of the ECHL have ceased operations after four seasons (2015-19) in the league. Prior to the arrival of the ECHL to Manchester, the city had a higher-level American Hockey League team by the same name from 2001 through the 2014-15 season. The National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings decided to move its AHL affiliate from Manchester to Ontario (CA) as the Ontario Reign for the 2015-16 season, while also moving its ECHL affiliate called the Ontario Reign to Manchester where it became a new lower-level version of the Monarchs.

SOCCER

Liga Mexicana de Futbol Rapido Profesional: Mexico's indoor soccer league known as the LMFR plans to start its 2019 season later this month and recently finalized 12 participating teams. The Norte (North) has the Deportivo Don Roge, GOKAY (Monterrey), Seleccion Monclova and Rancho Seco Saltillo, the Noreste (Northeast) has the Coyotes Rio Bravo, CFR Reynosa, Matamoros FC, Halcones Miguel Aleman and Lomas FC Victoria, while the Noroeste (Northwest) has three Chihuahua-based teams call El Pistolazo, RSD and Savage CUU.

USL League Two: The United Soccer League's developmental-level USL League Two, formerly called the Premier Development League, started its 2019 season earlier this month. The league's 72 teams are aligned in Central, Eastern, Southern and Western conferences that are further aligned in regional divisions. Some of the new teams for 2019 include the Cedar Stars Rush (Bergen County, NJ), Wake FC (Wake County, NC), Virginia Beach United, Florida Elite SA (Jacksonville), South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 (Statesboro), Discoveries SC (Fort Mill, SC), Sarasota Metropolis FC and Dayton SC. The league's Saginaw-based Michigan Bucks relocated to become the Flint (MI) Bucks for the 2019 season.

OTHER

West Coast Women's Professional Ultimate: The WCWU is trying to bring professional women's ultimate frisbee to the West Coast and is running a new women's exhibition ultimate frisbee series that started play last week with three teams called the Los Angeles 99, San Diego Wolfpack and the Seattle Cascades. The Seattle Cascades of the mostly men's professional American Ultimate Disk League were behind this new women's series and the WCWU is supported and assisted by the new eight-team women's league called the Premier Ultimate League, which started its inaugural season last month with most teams in the eastern half of the United States. The WCWU exhibition series consists of only four matches played through June 2019.

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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