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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
May 27, 2019 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)

BASEBALL

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League started its 2019 season this weekend with 12 teams aligned in six-team Mountain and Pacific divisions. The league had 12 teams aligned in three four-team divisions, but the Southern Division was eliminated for 2019. Last season's Ruidoso (NM) Osos travel team did not return and it was replaced by a new team called the Wasco (CA) Reserves located just northwest of Bakersfield. The Pacific Division has five California-based teams and one Arizona-based team. The Mountain Division has three teams based in New Mexico and one team each in Texas, Colorado and Kansas. Each team will play a 64-game schedule running from late May to early August 2019.

New York-Penn League: The Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, OH) of the short-season Class-A NYPL will play a game this season as the Mahoning Valley Peppers in Oil as a tribute to the an iconic appetizer in the area.

Major League Baseball: The group of investors trying to bring an MLB team back to Montreal has reached an agreement to develop land in the city that could include a new baseball stadium for the proposed team.

Empire Professional Baseball League: The developmental independent EPBL announced its 2019 regular-season schedule will run from June 19 through August 8 and again feature six teams each playing about 40 games. Of the six teams from last season, the Old Orchard Beach (ME) Surge relocated to become the Saranac Lake (NY) Surge. The Aguada (Puerto Rico) Explorers are now a Puerto Rico-based travel team called the Road City Explorers. The Plattsbugh (NY) Redbirds were renamed the Plattsburgh Thunderbirds. The New York Bucks moved its home from Canton to Peru (NY).

BASKETBALL

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA started its 2019 season this week and it 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 with each team playing 34 games.

Women's Minor League Basketball Association: The semi-pro WMLBA announced its 2019 season schedule that will feature seven teams playing at total of 23 games from mid-June to early August. Of the four participating teams in 2018, the Dallas Lightning, San Antonio Troopers and Houston Galaxy will return and be joined by the Topeka Shock, Oklahoma Tatanka (Muskogee), Baton Rough Hurricanes and Georgia Classic (Evans). The WMBLA is entering its third season of play.

North of the Border Basketball League: Canada’s advanced division of the men’s NBBL recently started its 2019 season with six teams called the Bel-Air, Best-I-Am Fitness, Hamilton Drip, Legendary Visions Crenshaw, Toronto IRS and Underrated. The NBBL also has two recreational divisions of teams and all league games are played at Mohawk College in Hamilton (Ontario).

The Basketball League: The professional TBL, which recently completed its second season with ten teams, announced an expansion team called the Columbus (OH) Condors will be part of the league in 2020. The TBL previously announced other new teams called the Dallas Skyline and the Tri-State Admirals (New Jersey), which was originally announced as the Rochester (NY) Revolution. The Columbus Condors were a member of the 2016 Central Basketball Association.

FOOTBALL

American Flag Football League: The AFFL, which has been trying to develop a franchise-based pro league, is again holding its amateur-level regional competitions in six locations (Irvine, New York, Orlando, Round Rock, Nashville and Fruitland/Baltimore) from late April through the first week of June 2019. Of the 128 competing teams, 16 will advance to playoffs held in June and July with a $1 million championship held on July 15. Last year, the amateur champion played the winner of a professional tournament for a $1 million prize. The pro tournament consisted of four pro teams playing games over a two-week period in July to determine a champion that would face the amateur champion.

American Arena League: The Pittsburgh Defenders, a 2019 AAL expansion team also known as the Burgh Defenders, have shut down operations for the remainder of the 2019 season. The team did not travel for a game this weekend against the Indianapolis Enforcers and the opponent (New England Bobcats) for its final game next weekend had already ceased operations. The Defenders stated the team will try to return in 2020. The AAL’s Georgia Doom (Macon) also folded during the season and an AAL team called the Chicago Aztecs folded just prior to the start of the 2019 season.

HOCKEY

Federal Prospects Hockey League: The FPHL, also known as the Federal Hockey League, officially announced the addition of a new team called the Columbus (GA) River Dragons for the 2019-20 season. The city was home to a previous minor-league hockey team called the Columbus Cottonmouths in the Southern Professional Hockey League, but that team ceased operations after the 2016-17 season. The city also had a previous minor league basketball team called the Columbus Riverdragons that played four seasons (2001-05) in the National Basketball Association D-League before moving to Austin. The league also lists another new team called the Delaware Thunder, but there has yet to be an official announcement.

National Women's Hockey League: The National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils have decided to end its partnership with the NWHL's Newark-based Metropolitan Riveters team. As part of this deal, the Devils assisted in marketing the NWHL team and the Riveters used the Devils' practice facility as its home arena. The Riveters plan to continue operations, but will now have to find a new home. Last week, the NHL'’s Buffalo Sabres ended its partnership with the NWHL's Buffalo Beauts team. More than 200 of the top women’s hockey players, who decided to boycott the NWHL for the 2019-20 season, have formed a union as they promote the creation of a single sustainable women's hockey league. As of now, the NWHL is the only option for women pro players and it intends to move forward with its 2019-20 season.

United States Premier Hockey League: A new team called the Fort Wayne Spacemen has been added to the Mid West East division for the 2019-20 season of the Tier-III junior-level USPHL Premier Division.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: The men's Spanish champion FC Barcelona has been interested in establishing a NWSL team, possibly based in California, but has yet to work out an agreement with the league. FC Barcelona, which has an agreement with Nike until 2023, wants assurances that the NWSL will continue its association with Nike when the NWSL's current agreement ends after this year.

National Premier Soccer League - Founders Cup: The elite-level NPSL's new professional competition scheduled to start this August recently announced the Napa Valley 1839 FC has replaced the California United Strikers FC, who withdrew from the competition. Napa Valley will be one of five teams in the West Region, while an East Region will have six teams. The competition is expected to evolve into a full Division-III professional league in 2020. Napa Valley 1839 FC has been a member of the elite-level NPSL since the 2016 season.

OTHER

Major Series Lacrosse: Canada's Ontario-based indoor Senior-A MSL started its 2019 this weekend with the same six teams as last season. Teams include the Brampton Excelsiors, Brooklin Redmen, Cobourg Kodiaks, Oakville Rock, Peterborough Lakers and Six Nations Chiefs (Hagersville). The season runs until August 1, 2019 and the MSL champion plays the champion of the British Columbia-based Western Lacrosse Association for the Mann Cup.

Western Lacrosse Association: Canada's British Columbia-based indoor Senior-A WLA started its 2019 season this week and it features the same seven teams as last season—the Burnaby Lakers, Coquitlam Adanacs, Langley Thunder, Maple Ridge Burrards, Nanaimo Timbermen, New Westminster Salmonbellies, and the Victoria Shamrocks. The season runs through July and the WLA champion plays the champion of the Ontario-based Major Series Lacrosse for the Mann Cup.

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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