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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 7, 2019 - Champions Indoor Football (CIF)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The New Britain (CT) Bees of the independent Atlantic League are not expected to return for the 2020 season, although the team says it will play in 2020, possibly as part of the shorter-season independent Can-Am League. To keep the Atlantic League at eight teams, it could restore the Road Warriors travel-only team for 2020 and wait until another new team in Gastonia (NC) joins in 2021. There have also been rumors the Can-Am League's Rockland Boulders (Pomona, NY) team could switch to the Atlantic League to replace New Britain.

Carolina League: The Potomac Nationals, or P-Nats, the high Class-A Carolina League affiliate of Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals, announced the team has been renamed the Fredericksburg (VA) Nationals, or Fred-Nats, as it plans to move from Woodbridge (VA) to a new stadium in Fredericksburg for the 2020 season. The team went by several different names under various affiliations since it first started play in Woodbridge for the 1984 season. The team's lease in Woodbridge actually runs through the 2020 season, just in case the Fredericksburg stadium is not ready for the 2020 season.

Coastal Plain League: The Fayetteville (NC) SwampDogs of the summer-collegiate CPL have failed to reach a lease agreement at Fayetteville Technical Community College. The team will remain in the league, but it plans to sit out the 2020 season and eventually relocate after 19 seasons in the city.

Frontier League: The new ownership of the independent Frontier League's Florence (KY) Freedom wants to rename the team before the 2020 season and a name-the-team contest has been established. The Florence Freedom joined the league for the 2003 season with the relocation of the league's Johnstown (PA) Johnnies team.

Major League Baseball: The group trying to bring an MLB expansion team to Nashville called the Nashville Stars has unveiled plans for a new ballpark, which will most likely need to be privately financed.

The group trying to bring an MLB team to Montreal is expected to present its proposed new ballpark plans. A Montreal team could end up splitting the regular season with the Tampa Bay Rays.

BASKETBALL

Mid-South Basketball Association: The MSBA announced a team called the Hopkinsville (KY) Hustlas has been added to its current 2019 Fall Season that started play in late August and runs until mid-November. The Hustlas replace the previously listed Kentucky Enforcers (Florence) team that was removed from the schedule and keeps the league at eight teams. The MSBA started play with an inaugural 2019 Spring Season featuring seven teams playing from March through mid-June.

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a new team called the Katy (TX) Krush will join as a 2020-21 expansion team. The league tried to start a team called the Katy Katz a few years ago.

Florida Basketball Association: The FBA, which has been playing a spring-summer season since 2012, is planning to add a Winter League that will start in early 2020.

Maximum Basketball League: The MBL, formerly the Midwest Basketball League, has added another 2020 expansion team called the East Texas Crest (Palatine).

FOOTBALL

Champions Indoor Football: The six-team indoor football league known as the CIF, which plans to play as part of a new combined league in 2020 with the National Arena League, announced a new team in Odessa (TX) will be added for the 2020 season. The new team will take West Texas in its name with the team's nickname to be announced shortly. Odessa was home to the Odessa/West Texas Roughnecks team that played in several leagues from 2004 through the 2012 season. Another team called the West Texas Wildcatters played in the 2014 season of the former Lone Star Football League (LSFL), but folded before the 2015 season when the LSFL merged with the Championship Indoor Football League to form the CIF.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The 31-team AHL, which serves as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams, started its 2019-20 season this week with the same teams and divisional alignment as last season. The AHL also awarded its 32nd franchise to the NHL's Seattle expansion team. The new AHL team will be based in Palm Springs (CA) and will start play in the 2021-22 season when the NHL's 32nd team based in Seattle starts play. A new 10,000-seat arena will break ground in Palm Springs early next year. Potential nicknames for the new AHL team are the Firebirds, Sun, Dragons, Falcons, Hawks and Eagles.

ECHL: The owner of the ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers has agreed to a new long-term arena lease with the city of St. John's. During tense lease negotiations, the owner was photographed touring a new arena under construction in Trois-Rivieres (Quebec) and it fueled speculation the Growlers might relocate.

Greater Metro Hockey League: The independent junior-level GMHL's new four-team West Division, which includes teams from the Western Provinces Hockey Association, started play this weekend. The Cold Lake (Alberta) Wings team is gone and replaced by the Edmonton Academy Wings, while the Enoch Tomahawks are now listed as the Northern Alberta Tomahawks, still based in Enoch. The Slave Lake Icedogs (Alberta) also started play, but the Rosetown Red Wings (Saskatchewan) have yet to start play, apparently due to a shortage of players.

National Women's Hockey League: Despite a boycott from many of the top female hockey players, the NWHL started its fifth season this week with the same five teams as last season. The Connecticut Whale moved from Stamford to Danbury. The Buffalo Beauts and Metropolitan Riveters (Newark) lost support from the National Hockey League teams in those markets and moved to smaller rinks in Amherst (NY) and Monmouth Junction (NJ). The other two teams are the Minnesota Whitecaps (St. Paul) and Boston Pride. The NWHL cancelled plans to add new teams in Toronto and Montreal for the 2019-20 season. Those markets had teams in the Canadian Women's Hockey League that folded after the 2018-19 season

SOCCER

USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Swope Park Rangers of the Division-II USL Championship league will be rebranded as the Sporting Kansas City II for the 2020 season to match the name of its parent club in Major League Soccer. The league's Fresno FC Foxes might not make it to the 2020 season if the team cannot find a permanent soccer-specific home field. The team was allowed to join the league in the 2018 season by temporarily using the local ballpark that is home to the Fresno Grizzlies of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The league is requiring the team to have a soccer stadium plan in place by its third season.

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 announced it will be called the Union Omaha with a horned owl on the team's crest.

Major Arena Soccer League 2: The MASL2, which is a lower-level professional league affiliated with the Major Arena Soccer League and also known as the M2, will have at least nine participating teams in its third season for 2019-20. At least 5 of the 15 teams will return from last season and the league will add four other new teams, two of which are the Austin Power and the Chihuahua Savage, which participated in the 2019 season of Mexico's pro indoor league called the Liga Mexicana de Futbol Rapido (LMFR).

OTHER

International Swimming League: The new team-based ISL started its inaugural season this week and features the world's best swimmers competing on eight clubs in six regular season meets across Europe and the United States. The four U.S.-based teams include the Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current and New York Breakers, while the four European teams are the London Roar, Team Iron (Budapest, Hungary), Energy Standard (Turkey) and Aqua Centurion (Italy).

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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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.


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