Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
July 29, 2019 - Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL)
Fiesta Winter League: The proposed new FWL is planning for its inaugural season that will consist of four teams each playing a 13-game schedule during the month of October 2019. All FWL games will be played at the Ray Kroc Baseball Complex in Yuma (AZ). The league currently lists four teams called the Foothills Maples, Somerton Warriors, Yuma Pistoleros and San Luis Tecateros. Scouts from various Mexican leagues will be actively involved in placing players on FWL teams. The complex in Yuma recently hosted the Arizona Winter League (AWL) for three seasons (2016 through 2018). The AWL was a winter showcase league for players looking to sign with U.S.-based independent summer league teams.
Frontier League: The Florence (KY) Freedom of the independent Frontier League has been sold and the team is expected to remain at its current location. The Florence Freedom joined the Frontier League for the 2003 season with the relocation of the Jownstown (PA) Johnnies. The franchise started as the Erie (PA) Sailors in 1994 before moving to become the Johnstown Steal in 1995 and then the Johnnies in 1998.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The National Basketball Association's Boston Celtics have entered into an agreement to purchase and take over full control of the G-League's Portland-based Maine Red Claws team, which has been part of the league since the 2009-10 season. The G-League's Red Claws were a shared affiliate with the Celtics and some other NBA teams through the 2011-12 season. The Red Claws became the sole affiliate of the Celtics starting with the 2012-13 season under a hybrid affiliation in which the Celtics ran all basketball operations while the Red Claws ran the business side under separate ownership. The trend over the past few years has seen NBA teams purchasing and taking full control of their G-League affiliates and in many cases moving it closer to the NBA city. The Celtics' long-term plans for their G-League affiliate are uncertain, but the Red Claws' lease in Portland runs through the 2023-24 season. The league still has to approve the sale of the Red Claws to the Celtics.
National Basketball League of Canada: Earlier this month, the president of the NBL-Canada's Cape Breton Highlanders (Halifax, Nova Scotia) announced the team was suspending operations for the upcoming 2019-20 season, but stated this week the team is working on some deals that could save the club for the 2019-20 season. Further announcements on the situation will be made in the near future.
Women's Minor League Basketball Association: The WMLBA is finishing up its 2019 season that had some changes along the way. Of the seven teams listed on the league's original 2019 schedule, the Georgia Classic (Evans) and Houston Galaxy teams disappeared, while the Muskogee-based Oklahoma Tatanka was replaced by another Muskogee-based team called the Oklahoma Warriors. Some of the WMLBA teams played non-league competition to fill in their schedules and a women's team called the Dallas Heat, which also has a men's team in the Universal Basketball Association, seemed to have joined the WLMBA during the season. In addition to the Oklahoma Warriors, the other currently listed WMLBA teams include the Baton Rouge Hurricanes, Dallas Lightning, San Antonio Troopers, and Topeka Shock.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA has added three more expansion teams called the Dayton Eagles (Ohio), D.C. Soul (Washington, DC) and the Orlando-based Feed the Family Basketball Club for the upcoming 2019-20 season that will start in November. Also, the Louisiana Kingdom Riders team will return as the ArkLaTex Takeover after sitting out last season.
Champions Indoor Football: The Albuquerque-based Duke City Gladiators were granted a request from the CIF to be released from its league commitment and are reported to have filed an application to join the Indoor Football League for the 2020 season. The Duke City Gladiators joined the CIF as a 2015 expansion team and were the league champion for the past two seasons. The CIF started its recent 2019 season with eight teams, but the Frisco-based Texas Revolution was dropped by the league in May. With the loss of the Gladiators, the league will be down to six teams that have all committed to return in 2020. Those teams included the Amarillo Venom, Wichita Force, Oklahoma Flying Aces (Enid), Omaha Beef, Salina (KS) Liberty and the Sioux City (IA) Bandits.
Federal Prospects Hockey League: The lower minor professional FPHL, also known as the Federal Hockey League, announced its new Michigan-based expansion team for the 2019-20 season will be the Battle Creek Rumble Bees. The city's most recent lower-level professional hockey team was the Battle Creek Revolution that played three seasons (2008-11) in the defunct All American Hockey League. All six FPHL teams from last season will return and the league will grow to ten teams for the 2019-20 season with the addition of four new teams: the Battle Creek Rumble Bees, Delaware Thunder (Harrington), Danbury (CT) Hat Tricks and the Columbus (GA) River Dragons. With the expansion, the league has also been realigned into two five-team Eastern and Western divisions, each with two of the new expansion teams.
Interstate Hockey League: The proposed new semi-pro senior-level IHL is still trying to get off the ground with 12 Michigan-based teams starting play in a 2019-20 season. The league recently announced a new team called the Battle Creek Cavalry, but that team's proposed home at The Rink in Battle Creek was announced as the home for the new Battle Creek Rumble Bees of the professional Federal Prospects Hockey League.
National Independent Soccer Association: The proposed new Division-III NISA officially announced its schedule and the eight teams that will be participating in the league's inaugural fall season starting in September 2019. An East Coast division will include the Atlanta SC, Miami FC, Philadelphia Fury and the Stumptown Athletic (Charlotte), while the West Coast division will feature the San Diego 1904 FC, Cal United Strikers (Orange County), Oakland Roots SC and Los Angeles. The NISA Fall 2019 competition will crown an East Coast Champion and a West Coast Champion and both teams will qualify for the NISA playoffs in the spring 2020 season. The NISA had originally planned on ten teams for its inaugural fall season, but teams in Baton Rouge, Providence (RI) and Connecticut were dropped. The NISA expects additional teams to sign up for the 2020 spring season.
National Premier Soccer League Founders Cup: The NPSL Founders Cup competition, which was to be a precursor to a Division-III professional league starting in the spring of 2020, has been scaled back from 11 teams to 6 teams and has been renamed the NPSL Members Cup. Five of the 11 originally announced teams called the Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC, Milwaukee Torrent, Napa Valley 1839 FC and the New York Cosmos will join the Pontiac-based Michigan Stars in the Members Cup competition from August 10 through October 26, 2019 with each team playing five home and five away games.
National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL's Sky Blue FC is looking to move from its current 5,000-seat home at Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway (NJ). Yurcak Field has very limited amenities, but has been the home of the Sky Blue FC since the team started play in 2009 as part of the league called Women's Professional Soccer, which folded after the 2011 season. The Sky Blue FC then joined the NWSL for the league's first season in 2013.
Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL announced it will play its 2019-20 season with 17 teams aligned in a nine-team Eastern Conference and an eight-team Western Conference. Last season, the MASL had 17 teams aligned in a five-team South Central Division and three four-team Pacific, Southwest and Eastern divisions. The MASL will be losing two teams and gaining two other teams to remain at 17 teams for the 2019-20 season. The El Paso Coyotes are planning a move to Austin and will drop to the second-division MASL2 along with last season's Rio Grande Valley Barracudas. The Hermosillo-based Soles de Sonora (Mexico) team will return to the MASL after a one-year hiatus and the league added the expansion Mesquite (TX) Outlaws for the 2019-20 season.
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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