Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 16, 2019 - NBA G League (G League)
Carolina League: With the high Class-A Carolina League's Potomac Nationals planning to move from Woodbridge (VA) to a new 5,000-seat ballpark under construction in Fredericksburg (VA) for the 2020 season, the Fredericksburg-based team will announce its new name on October 5, 2019.
Can-Am League: The out-of-town owner of the Ottawa Champions in the independent Can-Am League wants to sell the team within the next few weeks so the league can prepare the schedules for next season. The owner is not certain the team will play in 2020, but stated two potential ownership groups are interested and either group would keep the team in Ottawa. The Champions were forced to renegotiate its home lease during the 2019 season due to financial issues and the new ownership would need to assume the team's $400,000 in back rent owed to the city.
The Western League: The independent Pecos League announced it will return to Bakersfield (CA) in 2020 with a second version of The Western League, which is a winter showcase and prospect exposure league operated by the Pecos League. The inaugural 2019 season featured four teams playing a short four-week winter schedule in February and March with all games played at Bakersfield's Sam Lynn Ballpark.
Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: The Tigres de Quintana Roo (Cancun) of the Triple-A LMB, or Mexican Baseball League, have been suffering from poor attendance and the team could be moving back to Mexico City for the 2020 season. The team was based in Mexico City from 1955 through 2002, moved to nearby Puebla for four seasons (2003-06), and then to Quintana Roo for the 2007 season.
American Association: Government officials in Kansas City (KS) have granted the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association a 30-day extension before evicting the team for unpaid back rent. This will hopefully allow ownership finalize a sale of the team and pay off any remaining balance of back rent.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): With the NBA's Boston Celtics recently announcing plans to purchase its G-League affiliate called the Maine Red Claws (Portland), the city of Worcester (MA), about 50 miles west of Boston, is considering reaching out to the Celtics to see if they would consider moving the G-League team to Worcester and closer to Boston. The Maine Red Claws have a lease in Portland that runs until June 2024.
Maximum Basketball League: The Maximum Basketball League, formerly known as the Midwest Basketball League, is expanding beyond the Midwest for the 2020 season and has announced several new teams: the York (PA) Mighty Ants, Milwaukee Wizards, Music City Kings (Nashville), Charleston (SC) Panthers, Flower City Monarchs (Rochester, NY), Kentucky Rebels (Louisville), Michigan Hurricanes (Detroit) and West Tennessee Heat (Jackson).
Midsouth Basketball Association: After completing an inaugural 2019 spring season with seven teams, the MSBA recently started play in its first 2019 fall season that will run until mid-November and include eight teams. The Kentucky Flash (Louisville), St. Louis Trotters and Tennessee Sting (Madison) return from the spring season along with five other teams called the Dayton AirStrikers, Henderson (KY) Hornets, Henderson Stars, Memphis Blues and Kentucky Enforcers (Florence), which was part of the 2019 North American Basketball League season.
The Basketball League: As the TBL plans for its 2020 season starting in January, the league announced a team called the Little Rock Lightning will join for the 2021 season. The TBL previously announced seven new 2020 teams called the Dallas Skyline, Columbus Condors, Lewisville (TX) Yellow Jackets, Tri-State Admirals (New Jersey), Dayton Flight, Gulf Coast Lions (Bradenton/Sarasota) and San Diego Armada. Of the ten teams from 2019, seven teams called the Albany Patroons, Jamestown (NY) Jackals, Owensboro (KY) Thoroughbreds, Mesquite (NV) Desert Dogs, Raleigh Firebirds, Tampa Bay Titans and Yakima Sun Kings will return, but the Kansas City Tornadoes, New York Court Kings and San Diego Waves will not.
Indoor Football League: The IFL's expansion team to be based in Oakland announced the team will be called the Oakland Panthers when it starts play in the 2020 season. The IFL operated with ten teams in its 2019 season and previously added another team called the Duke City Gladiators (Albuquerque) that was part of the 2019 season in Championship Indoor Football.
American West Football Conference: The AWFC, which completed its inaugural 2019 season with four teams, will be adding a new team called the Yakima Canines for the 2020 season. The area had two previous professional indoor football teams called the Yakima Shockwave in the 2001 season of the former National Indoor Football league and the Yakima Valley Warriors in the 2010 season of the former American Indoor Football Association.
North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL started its 2019-20 season this week and features 26 teams aligned in four regional divisions across the United States. The league had 24 teams last season aligned in 4 six-team divisions, but the expansion Maine Nordiques (Lewiston) were added to the East Division and the expansion New Mexico Ice Wolves (Albuquerque) were added to the South Division for the 2019-20 season. The only other change was in the Central Division with the relocation of the Brookings (SD) Blizzard to become the St. Cloud (MN) Blizzard. The NAHL regular-season runs to the first week of April 2020.
North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II North American Hockey League, started its 2019-20 season this week with 34 teams aligned in 6 regional divisions across the United States. Several teams changed names as part of relocations: the Niagara Falls PowerHawks became the Danbury (CT) Colonials; the Binghamton (NY) Junior Senators became the Elmira (NY) Soaring Eagles; the Madison-based Wisconsin Whalers moved to become the Sheridan (WY) Hawks; and the Oswego (NY) Stampede became the New England Knights (Raynham, MA). The College Station (TX) Spirit was renamed the Texas RoadRunners for the 2019-20 season. The league had 36 teams last season, but the Evansville (IN) Junior Thunderbolts ceased operations and the Cape Cod Islanders moved to become the Canton (MA) Cubs, but the team is missing from the 2019-20 schedule.
United States Premier Hockey League: The USPHL's Tier-III Premier Division recently started its 2019-20 season with 52 teams in 8 regional divisions across the United States. The league added new teams called the Atlanta Mad Hatters, Charleston (SC) Colonials, Fort Wayne Spacemen, Lake Erie Bighorns (Erie, PA) and Columbus (OH) Mavericks. The P.A.L. Junior Islanders returned, having last played in the league's 2017-18 season. The Kasson (MN) Vipers moved to become the Rochester (MN) Vipers and the Niagara Falls Thunder moved to become the Buffalo Thunder. The Carolina Eagles (Raleigh, NC) changed to become the Carolina Junior Hurricanes and the Syracuse Stars changed to become the Utica Junior Comets for the 2019-20 season. Teams called the Atlanta Jr. Kings, Daytona Swamp Rabbits, Palm Beach Hawks, Hartford Jr Wolfpack, Tri City Icehawks and Wooster (OH) Oilers did not return for 2019-20. Several of the USPHL Premier Division teams also operate teams in the lower-level Tier-III USPHL Elite Division, which is operating with 17 teams in 4 regional divisions for 2019-20.
National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite-level amateur NPSL recently announced three teams called Valeo FC (Newton, MA), Fort Wayne FC and Las Vegas Legends FC have been added for the 2020 season. The owner of the Las Vegas Legends operated an indoor team by the same name for four seasons (2012-16) in the Major Arena Soccer League.
National Lacrosse League: The indoor NLL announced a three-division alignment for the upcoming 2019-20 season that will feature 13 teams. The league operated last season with 11 teams aligned in a six-team Eastern Division and a five-team Western Division. The league's Rochester Knighthawks franchise was sold and relocated to become the Halifax Thunderbirds (Nova Scotia), while the NLL added expansion teams called the New York Riptide (Long Island) and a new version of the Rochester (NY) Knighthawks. The five-team Western Division will remain the same with the Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado Mammoth, San Diego Seals, Saskatchewan Rush and Vancouver Warriors. Last season's six Eastern Division teams and the two 2019-20 expansion teams have been divided into a four-team North Division and a four-team East Division. The North Division includes the Buffalo Bandits, Halifax Thunderbirds, Rochester Knighthawks and Toronto Rock, while the East Division has the Georgia Swarm (Atlanta), New England Black Wolves (Uncasville, CT), New York Riptide and Philadelphia Wings. The three-division alignment was implemented as the league looks toward future expansion.
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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