Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 30, 2019 - United States Hockey League (USHL)
Pacific Coast League: As the New Orleans Baby Cakes team from the Triple-A PCL prepare its move next season to a new stadium under construction in Wichita (KS), the team ownership is moving forward with the process of selecting a new team name that will be announced on November 13, 2019. Over the past several weeks, four potential new team names have been presented for consideration: Wichita River Riders, Wichita 29ers, Wichita Linemen and Wichita Doo-Dahs. Apparently, three more possible names will be released in the coming weeks for a total of seven names to choose from.
Can-Am League: With the Ottawa Champions of the independent Can-Am being put up for sale after the 2019 season, two potential ownership groups have expressed interest in keeping a team in Ottawa. Any new ownership will have to negotiate a stadium lease agreement with the city and address $400,000 in back rent owed to the city.
Prospect League: Since losing the River City Rascals from the independent Frontier League after the 2019 season, the city of O'Fallon (MO) approved a lease of its CarShield Field to a team in the summer-collegiate Prospect League starting with the 2020 season. The Prospect League's Hannibal (MO) Hoots team, which joined the league for the 2018 season, will be relocating to O'Fallon. Prior to the Hoots, a team called the Hannibal Cavemen played nine seasons (2009-17) in the league.
Midwest League: The Beloit Snappers team in the low Class-A Midwest League is being sold and a new 5,000-seat ballpark is planned for construction in downtown Beloit. The team had been put on notice by Minor League Baseball that its current ballpark was not acceptable as a long-team home for the team based on new 2020 stadium guidelines. The Snappers' new owner also owns the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the Double-A Southern League.
Western Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: The proposed new Western Association, which plans to start play in 2020 with teams in Arizona, California, Colorado and Nevada, announced its first team will be the Henderson (NV) Hoo, based in suburban Las Vegas. The team will play home games on the campus of the College of Southern Nevada.
Maximum Basketball League: The Maximum Basketball League, formerly known as the Midwest Basketball League, is continuing its expansion beyond the Midwest for the 2020 season and recently announced several more new teams called the Bronx Holy Flames, New York Holy Storm, Central Georgia Rattlers (Warner-Robins), DFW Kingsmen (Dallas/Fort Worth), Atlanta Wildcats, Southwest Warriors (Atlanta), Fayetteville (NC) Flight, Dayton Eagles, Milwaukee Wizards and Elkhart (IN) Mavericks for the 2020 season. The Detroit-based Michigan Hurricanes have been renamed the Michigan Avengers.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a new team called the Providence (RI) Pirates will be part of the Northeast Division starting in the 2020-21 season. Over the past few years, the ABA tried to get other Providence-based teams called the Anchors, Sky Chiefs and Pats off the ground.
Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA announced a team called the New York Harlem Lady Underdogs is joining the league for the 2020 season.
National Arena League & Champions Indoor Football: The NAL and the CIF announced the two leagues will compete together for the 2020 season under a new league name with two conferences called the NAL and CIF. Teams are expected to play some interconference games in 2020. The NAL competed with six teamsfour in the Southeast and two in the Northeastduring the 2019 season. Of the Northeast teams, the Massachusetts Pirates (Worcester) opposed the merger and will not be part of the new combined league, while the New York Streets (White Plains) team has apparently folded. The NAL recently announced a 2018 participating team called the Maine Mammoths (Portland) could return in 2020. The CIF finished the 2019 season with seven teams located in the Midwest and Southwest, but one of those teams called the Duke City Gladiators (Albuquerque) left to join the Indoor Football League after the 2019 season. Details on the new league name and possible expansion teams are still to be announced.
United States Hockey League: The Midwest-based Tier-I USHL, which is the highest-level junior hockey league under USA Hockey, started its 2019-20 season this week with 16 teams aligned in eight-team Eastern and Western conferences. The USHL had 17 teams last season, but the Bloomington-based Central Illinois Flying Aces requested a temporary one-year withdrawal from the league and the team was removed from the Eastern Conference for the 2019-20 season. The Flying Aces joined as a 2014-15 expansion team called the Bloomington Thunder, which changed to the Central Illinois Flying Aces for the 2017-18 season. The USHL season runs from last September 2019 to mid-April 2020 with each team playing a 62-game schedule.
Interstate Hockey League: After holding off on a start in 2018 with six teams, the proposed Michigan-based IHL semi-pro senior league planned to start a 2019-20 season this November with 12 teams. The IHL recently announced it will not have league competition in 2019-20, although a couple of league teams might play some exhibition games. The IHL says it is not folding and plans to come back next season.
Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League: The Quebec and Ontario-based CPJHL, which is a Tier-III league under the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union, recently started its 2019-20 season with nine teams. The league had nine teams for part of the 2018-19 season, but the Coldwater Ice Wolves were dropped in late February 2019 and the Greater Toronto Jaguars stopped play in December 2018 after taking over the schedule of the folded Brampton Royals. The CPJHL added three new teams called the Le Becard de Senterre (Quebec), Le Buffalo de Ferme-Neuve (Quebec) and Langton Royals (Ontario) for the 2019-20 season. The CPJHL returned to Coldwater with last season's Essa Stallions moving to Coldwater in the Severn Township to become the Severn Stallions for 2019-20. The league planned to have ten teams, but the Grey Highland Hawks were removed from the schedule just prior to the start of the 2019-20 season.
National Premier Soccer League: The NPSL announced it will operate year-round competition with a three-season model as it tries to establish itself as the top league for strictly amateur and non-paid professional players. All NPSL teams will participate in the traditional summer season from May through early August, but it will also offer a spring season from March to April and a fall season from late August through October/November. The NPSL will try this format for two to three years and make adjustments as needed. The NPSL tried to start a Founders Cup competition this fall as the precursor for an NPSL professional league, but it ran into problems obtaining insurance for a league that included both paid professionals and amateur players. The proposed Founders Cup then became the Members Cup competition for six NPSL teams wanting to play a fall schedule. The NPSL has now decided it will be comprised of only amateur and non-paid professional players in the future. The NPSL is not ready to try developing a professional league at this time, but it could partner with other pro leagues in the future.
USL League One (United Soccer League): The new Omaha-based team that plans to start play in 2020 as part of the Division-III USL League One will announce a team name and logo next week.
Major League Soccer: The MLS recently announced it will hold an expansion draft in November to stock the league's two expansion teams in Miami and Nashville that will start play in the 2020 season.
National Women's Soccer League: Several reports indicate the NWSL is considering expansion from nine to ten teams for the 2020 season with the possibility of another two teams added by the 2021 season. Louisville has been mentioned as the frontrunner for NWSL expansion with a future women's team playing in a new stadium set to open for the 2020 season of the Louisville City FC from the men's USL Championship (United Soccer League). The Sacramento Republic FC of the USL Championship and Major League Soccer's Atlanta United FC and Los Angeles FC have also been mentioned for possible NWSL expansion teams. Earlier this year investors expressed interest in building a stadium in the Hartford (CT) area for an NWSL team. Two foreign soccer clubs, FC Barcelona (Spain) and Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon, France), have also expressed interest in establishing U.S.-based women's teams in the NWSL.
Major League Rugby: The professional MLR announced the schedule and team alignment for its third season that will start in February 2020. The league had 9 teams aligned in a single table last season, but has added 3 new teams called the New England Free Jacks, Old Glory DC (Washington) and Rugby ATL (Atlanta) to grow to 12 teams now aligned in six-team Eastern and Western conferences. In addition, last season's Austin Elite Rugby has been renamed the Austin Herd for the 2020 season.
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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United States Hockey League Stories from September 30, 2019
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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