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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 2, 2019 - NBA G League (G League)

BASEBALL

Carolina League: The Potomac Nationals of the high Class-A Carolina League may or may not have played their final regular-season game in Woodbridge (VA) this past week. The team is relocating to Fredericksburg where a new 5,000-seat ballpark is supposed to be ready by April 2020. Just in case the new ballpark is not ready, the National's ownership plans to renew its lease in Woodbridge through December 2020. The team has gone by several names since it first moved to Woodbridge from Alexandria (VA) for the 1984 season and it will be rebranded before its move to Fredericksburg.

Major League Baseball: Even though MLB is not moving forward on expansion at this time, the group of investors trying to bring an MLB team to Nashville plan to call the team the Nashville Stars after a former Negro Baseball League team that played in the city. Nashville was recently mentioned by the MLB commissioner, along with Portland (OR), Las Vegas, Charlotte, Montreal, Vancouver and possibly some cities in Mexico, as potential locations for future MLB teams when expansion is considered.

Pacific Coast League: The New Orleans Baby Cakes of the Triple-A PCL will play their last game on Labor Day as the team relocates next season to a new stadium under construction in Wichita (KS). There are currently no plans to bring a professional baseball team to New Orleans next season or beyond and the city's suburban ballpark is in need of significant repairs and improvements. The New Orleans Zephyrs of the PCL started play in the 1993 season with the relocation of the Denver Zephyrs. The team changed to the New Orleans Baby Cakes for the 2017 season.

Midwest League: The Bowling Green (KY) Hot Rods of the low Class-A Midwest League played a game this week as the Bowling Green Sinkholes to commemorate the fifth anniversary of when a 40-foot sinkhole opened up underneath the local National Corvette Museum and took eight Corvettes.

South Atlantic League (SALLY): The Kannapolis (NC) Intimidators of the low Class-A SALLY announced October 23, 2019 as the date they will announce the teams new name in preparation for a move to a new ballpark for the 2020 season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA G-League announced its 2019-20 schedule and alignment that will feature 28 teams, one more than last season. The Eastern Conference will have three five-team divisions (Atlantic, Central, Southeast) and the Western Conference will have a five-team division (Pacific) and two four-team divisions (Midwest, Southwest). The NBA's Atlanta Hawks operated its G-League team as the Erie (PA) BayHawks for the past two seasons (2017-19) while waiting for completion of a new arena in College Park, just outside Atlanta. The Hawks' G-League team will start play this season as the College Park Skyhawks in the Southeast Division. The NBA's New Orleans Pelicans started its new G-League affiliate for the 2019-20 season as another version of the Erie BayHawks. The Pelicans will keep the team in Erie for at least the next two seasons until a renovated arena is ready for the team's eventual move to Birmingham (AL). Also in the off-season, the Boston Celtics entered into an agreement to purchase and take 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 and was the lone affiliate of the Celtics since the 2012-13 season. Each of the 28 G-League teams will have a one-to-one relationship with 28 of the 30 NBA teams either through an affiliation or ownership situation. Only the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets do not own a G-League team or have single G-League affiliation.

National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada announced the Cape Breton Highlanders (Sydney, Nova Scotia) and Saint John Riptide (New Brunswick) have been granted a one-year leave of absence for the 2019-20 season, reducing the league from ten to eight teams. The league hopes both teams can improve their financial situations for a return in 2020-21. The Cape Breton Highlanders held a season ticket drive to try to save the team for the upcoming season, but the team sold only 652 of its 1,500 target. Cape Breton was a 2016-17 expansion team. Saint John started as the Saint John Mill Rats, an original member of the league in 2011-12, until changing to the Riptide for the 2016-17 season.

The Basketball League: The TBL announced two new teams called the San Diego Armada and the Dayton Flight have been added for the league's third season starting in January 2020. The San Diego Armada replaces last season's TBL team called the San Diego Waves, which is considering relocation to a different market, possibly Salem (OR). Not all of the TBL's ten teams from last season are expected to return, but the league has now added a total of six new teams for 2020.

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: As Mexico's top professional basketball league known as the LNBP prepares for the start of its 2019-20 season next month, the team called the Pioneros de Quintana Roo (Cancun) has decided not to participate in this season leaving the league with 17 teams. The team was attempting a return after last playing in the LNBP's 2015-16 season.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: The group called Schooners Sports and Entertainment, which is trying to bring a CFL expansion team called the Atlantic Schooners to Halifax (Nova Scotia) in the maritime provinces of Canada, hosted a regular-season CFL game in Moncton (New Brunswick) last weekend as part of the league's Touchdown Atlantic series. Moncton hosted the last three Touchdown Atlantic games in 2010, 2011 and 2013 of the series that restarted this year to market the league to the region. The new Atlantic Schooners team could start play in 2021 based in Moncton until a proposed new CFL stadium is built in Halifax. Also, the CFL says it is negotiating with more than two groups interested in purchasing the league's Montreal Alouettes team, which has been operated by the league since ownership walked away from the team prior to the 2019 season.

Indoor Football League: Reports from Spokane (WA) say the IFL will return to the city with a new team called the Spokane Shock for the 2020 season. A Spokane Shock team played four seasons (2006-09) in the original Arena Football League's minor league arenafootball2 (af2) and six seasons (2010-15) in the reorganized version of the AFL. The team switched to the IFL where it became the Spokane Empire, but folded after two seasons (2016-17) in the league. The IFL previously announced a 2020 expansion team will be added in Oakland (CA) and it is also said to be considering expansion into Portland (OR).

Northern Arena Football League: The proposed new NAFL wants to start play in 2020 with teams based in the northern part of the United States. The league wants to have 8 to 12 teams from New York to Wisconsin aligned in 2 divisions. Three markets under consideration are Detroit, Boston and Syracuse.

National Arena League: The Portland-based Maine Mammoths team, which played in the NAL's second season in 2018 before sitting out the 2019 season, is reported to be working on a possible return for the 2020 season.

HOCKEY

North American 3 Junior Hockey League: The Texas RoadRunners (Bryan/College Station) of the Tier-III junior-level NA3HL and the Corpus Christi IceRays of the Tier-II junior-level North American Hockey League announced the RoadRunners will become the official affiliate of the IceRays.

ECHL: The ECHL, which bills itself as the Premier 'AA' Hockey League, will operate with 26 teams in the 2019-20 season, but eventually would like to expand to 32 teams to match the National Hockey League and the AAA-level American Hockey League. The ECHL is in no rush to expand, but has expressed interest in a possible 2020-21 team for a new arena in Trois-Rivieres (Quebec). A Trois-Rivieres team could be an affiliate of the Quebec-based NHL's Montreal Canadians and AHL's Laval Rocket. The ECHL changed from the East Coast Hockey League in 2003 and has apparently made some attempts to trademark the Premier Hockey League name.

SOCCER

National Independent Soccer Association: The new Division-III professional NISA started play this week with its inaugural 2019 Fall Season that includes eight teams aligned in four-team East Coast and West Coast divisions. The East Coast features the Atlanta SC, Miami FC, Philadelphia Fury and Stumptown Athletic (Charlotte), while the West Coast includes the Cal United Strikers FC (Orange County), Oakland Roots, Los Angeles Force and 1904 FC (San Diego). Teams will play five to seven games through November 2, 2019. The Detroit City FC and Chattanooga FC will join the NISA for the 2020 Spring Season and Detroit is playing two exhibition games this season against the Philadelphia Fury, while Chattanooga FC is playing two exhibition games against the Stumptown Athletic. Other teams in Providence (RI), Baton Rouge and Connecticut are listed on the NISA site and could start play along with additional teams in the Spring 2020 or Fall 2020 season.

OTHER

National Pro Fastpitch: The women's NPF announced a change in its format for the 2020 season to a Series Event model featuring multi-team competition instead of one-on-one match-ups. Each Series Event will feature a minimum of three teams with standings and Championship Series qualification based on a weighted point system for head-to-head and series wins. Under the new model, teams will not be required to have a specific home venue or host games, but can just opt to participate in various events. The NPF's recently completed 2019 season featured six teams each playing 42 to 45 games.

Dan Krieger is the creator of 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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