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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 9, 2019 - Southern League (SL)

BASEBALL

Southern League: The Mobile BayBears of the Double-A Southern League played its final game in Mobile last week as the team moves north to a new ballpark in Huntsville (AL) as the Rocket City Trash Pandas for the 2020 season. The Mobile BayBears had been part of the league since the 1997 season after the relocation of the Port City Roosters from Wilmington (NC). The Trash Pandas will be placed in the Southern League North Division in 2020.

Empire Professional Baseball League: The independent EPBL plans to add a new team called the Tupper Lake (NY) River Pigs for the 2020 season. This would be the league's second team based in the Adirondacks area and only about 20 miles west of the Saranac Lake (NY) Surge team that started play in the 2019 season. The EPBL had five other teams in 2019: two Upstate New York teams called the Plattsburgh Thunderbirds and New York Bucks (Peru), the Concord-based New Hampshire Wild, the Puerto Rico Islanders (Rincon) and a Puerto Rico-based travel team called the Road City Explorers.

Coastal Plain League: The summer-collegiate CPL has finalized plans to bring a team to Colonial Heights (VA) for the 2020 season. The league's Edenton (NC) Steamers team announced it will be moving to a new Premier Division of the Tidewater Summer League for the 2019 season. The Steamers had been part of the CPL since the 1998 season.

Pecos League: After playing its inaugural 2019 season as the Wasco (CA) Reserves, the independent Pecos League team will drop the “s” and become the Wasco Reserve when it returns for the 2020 season. The team was named after the Duck Reserve near Wasco.

BASKETBALL

East Coast Basketball League: The springtime ECBL is planning for its 2020 season and has added new teams called the Georgia Fire (Atlanta) and the High Point (NC) Lycans. The ECBL had a former team called the High Point Hawks for the league's first three seasons (2015-17). The owner of the Universal Basketball Association's Columbia-based South Carolina Celtics and the owner of the Carolina Showtime, which was a 2017 ECBL travel team and has since been playing an independent exhibition schedule, will merge the two teams as the Carolina Showtime for the 2020 ECBL. The Showtime will be based in Orangeburg (SC), about 35 miles southeast of Columbia. The Celtics played the past two seasons (2018-19) in the UBA, but the owner had been looking to switch to the ECBL while remaining in the Columbia area. The league also promoted the Gastonia (NC) Snipers to full membership for 2020 after the team played as a 2019 travel team.

National Basketball League of Canada: Now that the Cape Breton Highlanders (Sydney, Nova Scotia) and the Saint John Riptide (New Brunswick) have suspended play for the 2919-20 NBL-Canada season, the owner of the league's St. John's Edge (Newfoundland) says he would consider moving the Edge to either of those markets if a satisfactory lease agreement cannot be worked out in St. John's. The owner of the Edge also owns the Sydney-based Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With the loss of two Atlantic Division teams, a Central Division team will most likely be moved to the Atlantic Division to keep each division at four teams. Although the league lost two teams for next season, it is still considering future expansion into Montreal and in another Ontario city, possibly Ottawa. The NBL-Canada had a team called the Montreal Jazz for just the 2012-13 season and a team called the Ottawa SkyHawks for just the 2013-14 season.

The Basketball League: The TBL added the Gulf Coast Lions, based in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, as the league's seventh new team for the 2020 season.

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a team called the Boston Fleet has been added as a 2020-21 expansion team. ABA teams called the Boston Outtatowners and Boston Liberators had been trying to organize over the past couple of seasons and the league had previous teams called the Boston Frenzy (2004-06) and Boston Blizzard (2007-08).

FOOTBALL

Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional: Mexico's top professional American-style outdoor football league known as the LFA, which operated with eight teams in four-team divisions for its fourth season in the spring of 2019, announced the new Pioneros de Queretaro as its ninth team for the upcoming 2020 season. The Canadian Football League has a working relationship with the LFA, along with a number of other European federations of American-style football, for developing players from those countries for the CFL. The CFL would eventually like to host a regular-season game in Mexico and possibly in some European countries.

China Arena Football League: The indoor CAFL, which is considered a professional developmental league for the U.S.-based Arena Football League and other indoor leagues, announced the teams and short schedule for the league's return this fall. Four teams called the Beijing Lions, Shenyang Rhinos, Shanghai Legend and Wuhan Gators will each play one home and one away game in November 2019 and participate in a four-team Championship Tournament on December 6, 2019. During on-field play, each team will have a ratio of five Chinese players to three foreign players. The CAFL held its first season in the fall of 2016 with six China-based teams and planned to switch to a spring-summer schedule for its second season in 2018. That season was postponed and the league switched to a fall season for its 2019 return.

National Gridiron League: The Albany-based Georgia Wildcats, one of 12 teams in the proposed indoor NGL that plans to start play in 2020, are now the Atlanta Wildcats.

HOCKEY

National Collegiate Development Conference: The United States Premier Hockey League's Tier-II junior-level NCDC will start its 2019-20 season next week with 13 teams aligned in one table. The NCDC had 12 teams last season, but added the Twin City Thunder (Auburn, ME). Also, the league's Syracuse Stars merged with the Utica Jr. Comets organization and changed its name to the Utica Jr. Comets.

Professional Women's Hockey Players Association Tour: The PWHPA, which was created when many of the world's elite women hockey players decided to boycott the National Women's Hockey League's 2019-20 season with hopes of creating a new full professional women's North American hockey league, has developed the “Dream Gap Tour” for the 2019-20 season. The tour will include a series of showcase events with teams comprised of these elite players with the mission of “closing the gap between what boys and girls can aspire to achieve”. The PWHPA has announced tour events starting later this month in Toronto, Hudson (NH) and Chicago with additional events possible in Buffalo and Southern California. Each weekend tour event will feature a four-team exhibition tournament over two days culminating in a weekend championship game.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: Although it has not been officially acknowledged by the MLS, Sacramento representatives and soccer officials have reportedly agreed to the framework of a deal that would bring a Major League Soccer expansion franchise and the league's 29th team to Sacramento in 2022.

National Independent Soccer Association: The Palm Beach (FL) Breakers team in the developmental United Premier Soccer League has expressed interest in placing a team in the new Division-III NISA.

National Women's Soccer League: The formal agreement between the professional NWSL and the U.S. Soccer organization expires after the 2019 season, so it is uncertain what effect this will have on the league's future. U.S. Soccer has subsidized the salaries of top American players since the league started play in 2013 and its management and support has helped the league survive.

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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Southern League Stories from September 9, 2019


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