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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 5, 2019 - Southern League (SL)

BASEBALL

Arizona Fall League: Major League Baseball announced the 2019 schedule and MLB affiliates for each of its six AzFL teams that will start play in September, a month earlier than past seasons. AzFL teams will also play some games in 2019 against teams from Mexico's fall league called the Mexican Pacific League, or Liga Mexicana del Pacifico. The AzFL will use four spring training facilities in the Phoenix area and each team is assigned prospects from five MLB teams. The East Division will feature the Mesa Solar Sox (Sloan Park), Salt River Rafters (Salt River Fields) and Scottsdale Scorpions (Salt River Fields), while the West Division will include the Glendale Desert Dogs (Camelback Ranch), Peoria Javelinas (Peoria Sports Complex) and Surprise Saguaros (Peoria Sports Complex). The 2019 season runs through October.

Southern League: The Double-A Southern League announced some of the schedule details for its 2020 season that will feature a slight realignment. With the relocation of the Mobile (AL) BayBears to Huntsville (AL) as the Rocket City Trash Pandas next season, the Montgomery (AL) Biscuits will be moved from the North to the South division with the Trash Pandas being placed in the North Division.

Major League Baseball: MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks are looking to replace its current home at Chase Field in Phoenix and reportedly were in discussions last year with Henderson (NV), a suburb of Las Vegas, which was trying to lure the Diamondbacks to a proposed new stadium. The Diamondbacks stated a number of cities expressed interest in the team, but it has not received permission from MLB and its first desire is to remain in Arizona.

BASKETBALL

Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA, which is affiliated with the men's American Basketball Association, started its 2019 season this weekend with 17 teams aligned in three regional divisions—Region 1 (Northeast; six teams), Region 2 (Midwest; five teams) and Region 3 (Southeast; six teams). The league also announced this week it will add 2020 expansion teams in the markets of Tulsa, Muskogee (OK), Houston and San Diego.

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a team called the Maryland Bulldogz (Baltimore area) has been added for the 2019-20 season. A Maryland Bulldogz team last played a few games in the first part of the ABA's 2017-18 season.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: The owner of the Wheeling-based West Virginia Roughriders announced the team will not be returning to the AAL for the 2020 season, but discussions with other leagues have not yet taken place. The AAL had some unstable teams during the 2019 season resulting in most teams playing non-league competition to fill out their schedules and some AAL teams suspended operations prior to or during the season. The Roughriders played as the Richmond (VA) Roughriders in the 2018 AAL season before relocating to Wheeling for the 2019 AAL season. The AAL's Cape Fear Heroes (Fayetteville, NC) are rumored to be leaving the league for the 2020 season. A previously announced 2020 AAL expansion team called the Tampa Bay Tornadoes announced a September tryout, but some doubt has been reported as to whether the team will make it to its first season.

Canadian Football League: The ownership group trying to bring a CFL expansion team called the Atlantic Schooners to Halifax (Nova Scotia) is still working on a business plan for a new stadium that will be a requirement for acceptance into the league. The earliest an expansion team could start play would be in 2021 and that season could be played in Moncton (Nova Scotia) or a temporary stadium in Halifax. The CFL is holding a regular-season game later this month at the University of Moncton as part of the 2019 edition of Touchdown Atlantic. The CFL has yet to close on a recently announced proposed sale of the Montreal Alouettes team whose ownership sold the team back to the league just prior to the 2019 season.

HOCKEY

National Women's Hockey League: The NWHL announced its 2019-20 season schedule that will feature the same five teams as last season, despite 200 of the top female players boycotting hockey in North America and the NWHL. All teams will play a 24-game schedule from early October 2019 to early March 2020. Three teams have changed locations with the Connecticut Whale moving from Stamford to Danbury, the Buffalo Beauts moving to nearby Amherst (NY), and the Metropolitan Riveters moving from Newark to Monmouth Junction (NJ). The home arenas for the league's Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps (St. Paul) will remain the same. In May 2019, the NWHL cancelled previously announced plans to add new teams in Toronto and Montreal for the 2019-20 season.

Western States Hockey League: The United States-based junior-level WSHL, which is part of the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union, has established new Alberta-based Canadian teams called the Cold Lake Hornets and the Barrhead Bombers for its 2019-20 Provincial Division that is now up to five teams. The three other teams include the Hinton Timberwolves (Alberta) and last season's Edson Aeros (Alberta) and Meadow Lake Mustangs (Saskatchewan). The WSHL commissioner sold the league's Long Beach Bombers to a new ownership group after the 2018-19 season and the team was renamed the Long Beach Jets. The WSHL commissioner then established the Barrhead team that took the Bombers name.

Da Beauty League: The DBL started its fourth season of 4-on-4 summertime ice hockey last month with six teams called Bic, RBC Royal Bank, Tradition Companies, TRIA, Jack Links and Walser. Each team is sponsored by a local business and is comprised of National Hockey League players, minor hockey league players and college players that are from Minnesota or spend their summers in Minnesota. Three games involving all six teams are played on eight weeknights in a regular season that runs from July 11 to August 15. All games are played at Braemar Arena in Edina (MN).

Chicago Pro Hockey League: The summertime CPHL start its second season last month with professional Chicago-based players from the National Hockey League, American Hockey League and ECHL, along with other amateur developmental players. The CPHL serves as a supplement to the players' summer training programs. The CPHL again has a four-team Pro Division and a four-team Developmental Division, but has added a new four-team Women's Division for 2019. Each team is named after a local sponsor. The six-week season has teams playing six games through mid-August. All games are played at the Fifth Third Bank Arena, the training home of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks.

SOCCER

USL Academy League: The United Soccer League unveiled a model for its new USL Academy League, which will be the first pre-professional youth league geared toward professional player development. Players will be elite prospects primarily in the U15 to U19 age range and teams will have a direct connection to a senior USL team. The USL has also posted plans for the USL Academy Cup that will feature two regional U17 tournaments and a national tournament. The Western Conference event will be held in San Antonio in October 2019 with an eight-team Elite division and a six-team Premier division. The Eastern Conference event will be held in Bradenton (FL) in February 2020 with an eight-team Elite division and a six-team Premier division. The USL Academy Cup National Event will be held in Tampa in May 2020.

Major League Soccer: At the MLS All-Star Game this week, the league commissioner stated there has not yet been any decision about the next expansion markets. The league is in advanced talks with groups in St. Louis and Sacramento for the next round of expansion, but those bids are not far enough along to move forward at this time. The league is playing with 24 teams this season and will add Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF in 2020 and Austin FC in 2021. Groups in Charlotte, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Indianapolis, San Diego, Detroit and Raleigh have also expressed interest in an MLS expansion team and some of those groups attended the All-Star Game and met with MLS officials.

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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Southern League Stories from August 5, 2019


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