Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
July 22, 2019 - Atlantic League (AtL)
Western Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: The new independent Western Association has been announced with play to start in 2020. The league plans to start with eight teams located throughout Arizona, California, Colorado and Nevada, but exact markets have not yet been announced. Teams will play a 78-game schedule from the third week of June to the first week of September.
Appalachian League (APP): The Bristol (VA) Pirates of the advanced short-season APPY are playing in a deteriorating ballpark and the city could lose the team after next season if renovations are not made. There has been discussion of a possible new ballpark being built for the team on the Bristol (TN) side of the twin cities summer.
New York-Penn League: The short-season Class-A NYPL's Aberdeen (MD) IronBirds played as the Aberdeen Steamed Crabs in a game this week against the league's Connecticut Tigers team, which was renamed the New England Lobster Rolls, as part of a Seafood Showdown.
Coastal Plain League: The summer-collegiate CPL plans to add a 2020 expansion team in Colonial Heights (VA). Colonial Heights is part of Virginia's Tri-Cities area that includes Hopewell and Petersburg, which had a previous CPL team called the Petersburg Generals from 2000 through 2016.
Northwoods League: The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League will play a game next week as the Wisconsin Rapids Gorgeous Grandmas as a tribute to the National Gorgeous Grandma Day observed on July 23.
Atlantic League: The Atlantic League is still interested in placing a team in the Pawtucket (RI) market and its McCoy Stadium, which will become available after the 2020 season when the Pawtucket Red Sox of the Triple-A International League relocate to Worcester (MA). The Atlantic League was one of six requests for proposals received for the McCoy Stadium site and an announcement on a final decision is expected by the end of September. Another group is interested in placing an affiliated baseball team, possibly from the Class-A short-season New York-Penn League, in the stadium. Two groups are interested in converting the stadium to a soccer field, another group wants to create a facility for the music industry, while another wants to build a family recreation and entertainment center.
The Basketball League: The TBL, which operated as North American Premier Basketball (NAPB) for its inaugural 2018 winter-spring season, announced a fourth new team called the Lewisville (TX) Yellow Jackets has been added for the league's third season in 2020. The TBL operated with ten teams in 2019 and previously announced three other new additions called the Dallas Skyline, Tri-State Admirals (New Jersey) and the Columbus (OH) Condors, a former Central Basketball Association team.
Midwest Women's Basketball Association: The proposed new MWBA, which originally started as the Women's Premiere Basketball League, is planning a start in 2020. Some of the potential MWBA teams mentioned over the past several months included the Junction City (KS) Attack, Wichita Defenders, Topeka Shock, Kansas City (MO) Roadrunners, Kansas Twisters (Osawatomie), Enid (OK) Swarm, Salina (KS) Thunder Bolts, Dodge City (KS) Storm and Nebraska Tornadoes.
Indoor Football League: The owner of the IFL's Grand Island-based Nebraska Danger announced the team will most likely be put up for sale. It is hoped a new ownership group would keep the team in Grand Island, but if that is not possible the team could be sold and moved to a new location. The Nebraska Danger joined the IFL as an expansion team for the 2011 season and just completed its ninth season.
XFL: The new XFL outdoor professional football league, which plans to start play with eight teams in February 2020, was reported it will announce team identities later this month. The league will also create a roster for an extra Dallas-based team that will be used to supply players to any team in need of injury replacements. The XFL recently held its final league showcase in St. Louis for prospective players. The eight XFL teams will be based in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington (DC).
United States Hockey League: The Midwest-based Tier-I USHL, which is the highest-level junior hockey league under USA Hockey, announced its 2919-20 season schedule this week that will feature 16 teams aligned in an eight-team Eastern Conference and an eight-team Western Conference. The league had 17 teams last season, but the Bloomington-based Central Illinois Flying Aces requested a temporary one-year withdrawal from the league and the team was removed from the Eastern Conference for the 2019-20 season. The Flying Aces joined as a 2014-15 expansion team called the Bloomington Thunder, which changed to the Central Illinois Flying Aces for the 2017-18 season. The USHL season runs from late September 2019 to mid-April 2020 with each team playing a 62-game schedule.
Major League Soccer: The MLS expansion group from St. Louis made a formal presentation to the league this week and the league also met with officials from Charlotte (NC), where an expansion effort is being organized by the National Football League's Carolina Panthers. The league will grow to 27 teams with the addition of new teams in Nashville and Miami in 2020 and Austin in 2021. The league stated it will expand to 30 teams with Sacramento and St. Louis considered as frontrunners for teams 28 and 29. Potential ownership groups from Charlotte, Las Vegas, Sacramento and St. Louis and other potential expansion markets are scheduled to attend an MLS All-Star week later this month as there is talk the league could expand to 32 teams. The MLS and Liga MX, Mexico's top professional soccer league, will kick off the inaugural eight-team Leagues Cup this week featuring four teams from each league. The MLS and Liga MX also announced the Leagues Cup will expand to 16 teams for the 2020 annual tournament.
Ascenso MX: Mexico's second-division league known as Ascenso MX recently started the Apertura (Opening) portion of its two-part 2019-20 Apertura/Clausura season with 14 teams after playing last season with 15 teams. The Ascenso MX's FC Juarez Los Bravos (Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua) purchased the first-division Liga MX's Lobos de BUAP (Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla) and took the Lobos place in the Liga MX for the 2019-20 season. The Club Atletico de San Luis won both halves of the 2018-19 season in the Ascenso MX and was promoted to the first-division Liga MX. The Ascenso MX added the Loros de la Universidad de Colima team that was promoted after winning the third-division Liga Premier-Serie A last season. Also, the Ascenso MX's Alebrijes de Oaxaca club was granted a one-season hiatus and the dormant Zacatepec Siglo XXI club was reinstated to take over Oaxaca's spot.
Major Arena Soccer League: After a one-year absence from the MASL, the Hermosillo-based Soles de Sonora (Mexico) team will return to the league for the 2019-20 season. The Soles de Sonora joined as an MASL expansion team for the 2015-16 season. The MASL previously announced the Mesquite (TX) Outlaws would join for the 2019-20 season and the league is said to be finalizing deals with at least three new markets for the 2020-21 season.
World TeamTennis: The WTT grew from six to eight teams as it started its month-long 2019 season last weekend with all eight teams aligned in one table for the standings. All six teams from last season returned and the WTT added two expansion teams called the Orlando Storm and the Vegas Rollers (Las Vegas). Each team will play a 14-match regular season that runs through this month. The WTT most recently had a Florida-based team called the Florida Twist (Bradenton and Sarasota) for two seasons (1994-95). The WTT almost had a previous Las Vegas team called the Las Vegas Neon for the 2014 season after the relocation of the Sacramento Capitals, but the league terminated the Las Vegas Neon franchise prior to the start of the season due to legal and financial issues surrounding the team's owner.
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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