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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 3, 2019 - National Arena League (NAL)

BASEBALL

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: The California-based independent Pacific Association started its 2019 season this weekend with four teams called the San Rafael Pacifics, Vallejo Admirals, Napa Silverados and Sonoma Stompers, along with the Kansas-based Salina Stockade travel team operated by the independent Pecos League. The Pacific Association had six teams last season, but the owners of the Martinez Clippers got into financial and legal troubles and did not return. The league added the Stockade to fill out the 2019 schedule, but then the league's Pittsburg Diamonds announced they would not be able to play in 2019. The Salina Stockade played as a travel-only team in the 2018 Can-Am League. The Pacific Association is entering its seventh season of play.

Florida State League: The Kissimmee-based Florida Fire Frogs of the high Class-A FSL will be leaving the market after the 2019 season. The team’s ownership accepted a half-million-dollar buyout so the team’s Osceola County Stadium complex can be redeveloped into a training facility for Major League Soccer's Orlando City FC with the stadium being converted into a soccer stadium for the Orlando City B, which is the MLS team’s affiliate in the Division-III USL League One. The Fire Frogs are an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, so there is talk the team could move to the Braves' new spring training complex in the North Port area of Sarasota County.

Can-Am League: Cuba's national baseball team, which is supposed to play some games starting later this month as part of the independent Can-Am League’s 2019 season, is having trouble getting visas granted in Cuba. As a contingency plan, the Can-Am League would have an all-star team from the independent Empire Pro Baseball League (EPBL) fill in for the Cubans. The Can-Am League already announced last month an EPBL all-star team known as the Empire League Grays would be playing four games during the 2019 season against the 2018 Can-Am League champion Sussex County (NJ) Miners.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced two more new teams called the Wichita Falls (TX) Wranglers and the Camden (NJ) Monarchs will start play in the 2019-20 season.

Historical Basketball League: The proposed new HBL plans to pay college basketball players who will play in the new league while attending college. The HBL will be a professional, collegiate club-sports league that will employ college athletes to play a full summer season of basketball and those athletes will also be enrolled as full-time students. The league wants to start play in June 2020 with 12 teams.

Overseas Elite Basketball League: The proposed new OEBL plans to start play this year with four teams called the Impact, Pride, Hustlers and Force. The OEBL will provide players with professional-level experience that gives exposure to domestic and international professional basketball teams. The OEBL has announced working relationships with the Tri-State Admirals, a 2020 expansion team in The Basketball League, and the Harlem Underdogs, a 2019-20 expansion team in the American Basketball Association.

FOOTBALL

Rivals Professional Football League: The RPFL started its 2019 Michigan Conference of games last month with four teams called the Oakland County Racers, Pontiac Generals, Detroit Cougars and Michigan Bearcats. The RPFL is in its sixth season of play.

National Arena League: The six-team NAL is looking to expand for next season and could add up to four teams. The league is reported to be interested in the Tampa and Nashville markets, both of which had previous indoor teams. The Tampa Bay Storm played from 1995 through 2008 in the original Arena Football League and from 2010 through 2017 in the reorganized AFL. Nashville had two different teams called the Nashville Kats in the original AFL from 1995 through 2001 and 2005 through 2007.

HOCKEY

Federal Prospects Hockey League: The FPHL, also known as the Federal Hockey League, officially announced the addition of a new team called the Delaware Thunder, based in Harrington, for the 2019-20 season. The FPHL has now grown from six to nine teams for the 2019-20 season with the addition of two other expansion teams called the Danbury (CT) Hat Tricks and Columbus (GA) River Dragons.

National Women's Hockey League: The NWHL announced it is cancelling plans for now to add expansion teams in Toronto and Montreal for the 2019-20 season. With 200 of the top female players boycotting hockey in North America and forming a players' union, the NWHL stated it is willing to work with any group ready to start a new women's league with better pay and benefits for its players. The NWHL also stated it will return in October 2019 with its same five teams as last season and expansion would remain an option for a few more weeks.

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League’s Seattle expansion team is reported to be considering Boise (ID) or Palm Springs (CA) as potential locations for its new AHL affiliate. The Seattle NHL team plans to start in the 2021-22 season and wants its AHL team to start the same season. Boise is currently home to the Idaho Steelheads team in the ECHL, a level of play below the AHL. Palm Springs would need to build a facility for an AHL team.

North American 3 Hockey League: The College Station (TX) Spirit of the Tier-III junior-level NA3HL will be renamed the Texas Roadrunners for the 2019-20 season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS and Mexico's top professional soccer league known as Liga MX announced a new annual inter-league competition called the Leagues Cup that will start play in July 2019. The Leagues Cup will feature four MLS teams (Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake) and four Liga MX teams (Club America, Cruz Azul, Tigres UANL and Club Tijuana) playing in a single-elimination tournament. An investment group wants to build a new MLS stadium on the site of Cashman Field in Las Vegas. The venue was the former home of baseball's Las Vegas 51s in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and is the current home to the Las Vegas Lights FC soccer team in the Division-II USL Championship league. The Lights would then come under control of the new investors.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The men's outdoor or field lacrosse MLL started its 2019 season this weekend with six teams called the Atlanta Blaze, Boston Cannons, Chesapeake Bayhawks (Annapolis, MD), Dallas Rattlers, Denver Outlaws and New York Lizards (Long Island) aligned in one table. In the off-season, the MLL was reduced from nine to six teams with the loss of the Florida Launch (Boca Raton), Charlotte Hounds and Ohio Machine (Columbus) after the owner of the Dallas Rattlers folded those three teams under his ownership. The Charlotte Hounds will return in 2021 under new ownership. The MLL is facing competition from the new tour-based Premier Lacrosse League that is starting play in 2019 and signed many of the game's top players. The MLL is still considering future expansion with potential markets to include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The MLL regular season runs through late September.

Premier Lacrosse League: The new men's professional outdoor or field lacrosse PLL started its 2019 season this weekend in Boston as a six-team touring league. The PLL is holding weekend events in Boston, New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington (DC), Denver, San Jose, Hamilton (Ontario), Albany (NY) and Columbus (OH) featuring six teams called the Archers, Atlas, Chaos, Chrome, Redwoods and Whipsnakes. The PLL will also hold a mid-season all-star event in Los Angeles and end-of-the-season playoffs in New York and Philadelphia on two weekends in September. The inaugural Boston event also featured the first games of the 2019 season for the five-team Women’s Professional Lacrosse League (WPPL), which entered into a partnership with the PLL to play games at a couple of events. The short-season WPPL is entering its second year with the same five teams called the Baltimore Brave, New England Command, New York Fight, Philadelphia Fire and Upstate Pride (Albany, NY).

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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National Arena League Stories from June 3, 2019


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