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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 10, 2019 - National Pro Fastpitch (NPF)

BASEBALL

Midwest League: The Appleton-based Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the low Class-A Midwest League will play a game later this month as the Wisconsin Udder Tuggers as part of the team’s Salute to Cows and the celebration of America’s Dairyland this month.

Empire Professional Baseball League: The independent EPBL will start its 2019 season later this month and now has its six teams aligned in two divisions. The new North Country Division includes the league’s three teams in New York State—the New York Bucks (Peru), Plattsburgh Thunderbirds and Saranac Lake Surge. The South Caribe Division has the Puerto Rico Islanders and a Puerto Rico-based travel team called the Road City Warriors, along with the Concord-based New Hampshire Wild.

Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League started its 2019 season late last month and the league grew from 20 to 22 teams with the addition of the expansion Traverse City (MI) Pit Spitters and the Kokomo (IN) Jackrabbits from the Prospect League. Last season, the 20 teams were aligned in ten-team North and South divisions, but this season the 22 teams are aligned in six-team Great Lakes East and Great Lakes West divisions and five-team Great Plains East and Great Plains West divisions.

National Urban Professional Baseball League: The independent NUPBL, which started play last May with four teams playing games in Laurel (MS) and disbanded in early July 2018 due to a lack of support, says it will resume play in June 2020.

BASKETBALL

Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA plans to start its 2019 season in August with 17 teams aligned in three regional divisions with teams based in the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest. The WABA plans to add another ten teams next season and is considering teams in the states of California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

Women's Basketball Development Association: The professional development WBDA, which formerly operated as the Women's Blue Chip Basketball League, has added its first Canadian team called the Toronto Elite 1's. The team was added to the Eastern Conference and will play six exhibition games this season as the league looks to expand into Canada. The organization known as Elite 1’s also has the Phoenix Elite 1's team in the WBDA's Western Conference. The WBDA also signed a partnership with the Military Basketball Association and an All Army team made up of female military athletes was added to the league’s Eastern Conference.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: The ownership of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes has sold the team back to the league after it was unsuccessful in finding a buyer for the team. The league has taken over day-to-day operations of the Alouettes for the upcoming season, as it tries to find a new owner. This version of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes evolved from the CFL's former Baltimore Stallions team in 1996.

Elite Indoor Football: A new indoor football team called the Ozarks Mountain Express, which will be based in Lebanon (MO), is planning to be part of the EIF for the 2020 season.

HOCKEY

Federal Prospects Hockey League: With the growth of the FPHL, also known as the Federal Hockey League, from six to nine teams for the 2019-20 season, the league is planning to use a divisional alignment with a four-team East and a five-team West to try to reduce travel costs. There is also speculation the league could add a tenth team before the start of the 2019-20 season.

North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL has approved the relocation of its Brookings (SD) Blizzard team to St. Cloud (MN) for the 2019-20 season. The team will be called the St. Cloud Blizzard and continue to be part of the NAHL's Central Division.

Provincial Women's Hockey League: Canada’s Ontario-based PWHL is an intermediate Class AA league and considered the highest level of junior-aged women's hockey. The PWHL started in 2004 and had 20 teams aligned in one table for the 2019-20 season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The city of Las Vegas has approved a 180-day negotiating period for building a new soccer stadium that could become home to an MLS expansion team on the site of Cashman Field, which 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 owner of the National Hockey League's Vegas Golden Knights has also announced plans to try to bring an MLS expansion team to the new football stadium under construction in Las Vegas for the National Football League’s relocated Oakland Raiders.

National Independent Soccer Association: The new Division-III professional NISA is still organizing for its inaugural season that will start play in September 2019. A league meeting was reported to have been held this week to finalize a schedule that will now include ten teams with official announcements expected soon. The league site currently lists eight team locations: Los Angeles, San Diego, New England (Connecticut), Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Providence (RI) and Central Florida.

League 1 Ontario: The 2019 season of the pro-am Division-III League1 Ontario started play early last month with both men’s and women’s divisions that play through July. The men’s division is in its sixth season and has 16 teams in a single-table format. Of the 17 teams from last season, the Toronto-based Sanjaxx Lions and Toronto FC Academy did not return, while Durham United FC returned after sitting out last season. The women’s division is in its fifth season and has 14 teams in a single-table format. Of the 13 teams from last season, the Toronto Azzurri Blizzard and West Ottawa SC did not return, but three new clubs called the Alliance United, FC Oshawa and Ottawa South United were added. In the off-season, the new men’s professional Canadian Premier League, which started play this spring with seven teams across Canada, purchased the League1 Ontario to serve as a provincial developmental league for the CPL.

OTHER

National Pro Fastpitch: The women's NPF started its 2019 season last weekend and it will feature six teams playing from late May to mid-August. The league operated with five teams last season, but added the new Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois (Marion) that is comprised of Canadian national players. All five teams returned from last season, although the Aussie Spirit, which was a 2018 travel team based in Shawnee (KS) and is comprised of players from the Australian national team, has found a home in North Mankato (MN) and was renamed the Aussie Peppers. The other returning teams include the Chicago Bandits, USSSA Pride (Viera, FL), Cleveland Comets, comprised of potential Mexican national team players, and the Beijing Shougang Eagles, comprised of Chinese national players and based in Daytona Beach (FL). The NPF evolved from the Women's Professional Fastpitch that was formed in 1997 and has been under the NPF name since the 2004 season.

National Lacrosse League: The indoor NLL announced it will hold its 2019 expansion draft early next month for its two new teams called the Rochester Knighthawks and New York Riptide (Long Island). The Rochester Knighthawks will replace another Rochester Knighthawks team that has played since 1995 and will relocate to Canada next season as the Halifax Thunderbirds (Nova Scotia). The ownership of the NLL's Buffalo Bandits and the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres will own and operate the new Rochester Knighthawks team.

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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