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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 21, 2019 - Frontier League (FL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: The independent Frontier League announced a merger with the independent Can-Am League, officially the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball, to form an expanded 14-team Frontier League with a seven-team Can-Am Division and a seven-team Midwestern Division for the 2020 season. Five 2019 Can-Am League teams called the New Jersey Jackals (Little Falls), Quebec Capitales (Quebec City), Rockland Boulders (Pomona, NY), Sussex County Miners (Augusta NJ) and Trois-Rivieres Aigles (Quebec) will join two of the 2019 Frontier League's more eastern teams called the Lake Erie Crushers (Avon, OH) and the Washington (PA) Wild Things in the new Can-Am Division. Seven other 2019 Frontier League teams called the Evansville (IN) Otters, Florence (KY) Freedom, Gateway Grizzlies (Sauget, IL), Joliet (IL) Jammers, Schaumburg (IL) Boomers, Southern Illinois Miners (Marion) and the Windy City Thunder Bolts (Crestwood, IL) will comprise the new Midwestern Division. The Can-League's only other 2019 team called the Ottawa Champions was not part of the merger. Local investors were reported to have reached an agreement to purchase the Champions, but still had no valid stadium lease for 2020. The Frontier League's tenth team in the 2019 season called the River City Rascals (O'Fallon, MO) was not part of the merger as that team had previously announced it was folding after the 2019 season. The Frontier League has been around since the 1993 season, while the Can-Am League started in 2005 and evolved from the former Northeast League that played from 1995 through the 2004 season. The league's Florence Freedom recently announced it will be changing its team nickname for the 2020 season.

American Association: The Kansas City (KS) T-Bones of the independent American Association were physically evicted from its home stadium this week due to a default on rent and utility payments. The team stated it is making progress on a sale of the team and the government entity that operates the stadium has approved a new lease with the prospective ownership group. The team's sale still needs league approval.

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico: Mexico's premier winter league known as the LMP, or Mexican Pacific League, started its 2019-20 season last weekend and expanded from eight to ten teams with the addition of expansion teams called the Monterrey Sultanes and the Guasave Algodoneros.

Major League Baseball: The current agreement between MLB and the affiliated minor leagues under Minor League Baseball (MiLB) expires after the 2020 season. Initial negotiations on a new agreement have MLB wanting a radical contraction and realignment of certain lower-level leagues and the removal of up to 42 teams as it seeks to reduce travel and improve minor league facilities.

BASKETBALL

Maximum Basketball League: The MBL, formerly known as the Midwest Basketball League, announced teams called the Midwest Storm (Romeoville, Illinois) and the Louisville-based Kentucky Flash have joined for the 2020 season. The Kentucky Flash have been part of the Mid-South Basketball Association this past year and the team will be renamed the Derby City Flash in the move to the MBL.

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a new team called the Buff City Braves (Buffalo) has been added as another of many 2019-20 expansion teams. The ABA's Australian league known as ABA League Australia has not officially gotten off the ground, but two of its associated teams called the ABA Bobcats and the ABA Parramatta Wildcats are participating in the 2019 season of Australia's eight-team Ultimate Basketball League.

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA's New York Liberty will be moving their home from the Westchester County Center in White Plains (NY) to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2020 season. Prior to moving to White Plains in the 2018 season, the Liberty was based out of Madison Square Garden (1997-2010, 2014-17) in New York City and the Prudential Center (2011-13) in Newark.

FOOTBALL

AF3 Developmental: The new Arena Football Developmental, or AF3, recently announced plans to start the new developmental indoor football league in April 2021. Proposed markets include Dalton (GA), Rome (GA), Chattanooga (TN) and Birmingham (AL). A name-the-team contest has already started for the Rome team with Raptors, Rage and Renegade as choices.

XFL: The proposed new outdoor XFL held a five-phase player draft this week to stock its eight teams that will start play in February 2020. An Eastern Conference will feature the DC Defenders (Washington, DC), New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks and Tampa Bay Vipers, while a Western Conference will have the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats and Seattle Dragons.

HOCKEY

North American Hockey League: The junior-level NAHL, which is the only Tier-II league under the USA Hockey structure, announced a new team in Wichita Falls (TX) will be added to the South Division for the 2020-21 season. The city had previous NAHL teams called the Wichita Falls Rustlers (2003-04) and the Wichita Falls Wildcats (2004-2017). Most recently, a team called the Wichita Falls Force played in the Texas-based independent junior-level league known as the USA Central Hockey League (USACHL), which folded in December 2018 after only two months of operation.

American Hockey League: The status of the AHL's Stockton Heat in the city is uncertain beyond the 2019-20 season. The team has yet to officially announce whether it will exercise an available five-year option to remain at the Stockton Arena for the 2020-21 season and beyond. The AHL team has been in Stockton since the 2015-16 season.

Southern Professional Hockey League: The SPHL started its 2019-20 season this week with the same ten teams as last season: the Birmingham Bulls, Evansville Thunderbolts, Fayetteville (NC) Marksmen, Huntsville (AL) Havoc, Knoxville (TN) Ice Bears, Macon (GA) Mayhem, Pensacola Ice Flyers, Peoria Rivermen, Roanoke (VA) Rail Yard Dawgs and Quad City Storm (East Moline, IL). Each team will play a 56-game schedule from mid-October 2019 to early April 2020.

SOCCER

Major Arena Soccer League 2: A new indoor soccer team called the Wichita Wings announced it will start play in the 2019-20 season of the MASL2, which is a lower-level league affiliated with the Major Arena Soccer League. The Wichita Wings name was used by a couple of former professional indoor teams, the most recent having played two seasons (2011-13) in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

Major League Soccer: The MLS is expected to announce next week that Sacramento will be granted an expansion team to become the league's 29th team. The new MLS team will take the Sacramento Republic FC name currently being used by a team in the Division-II USL Championship league.

National Women's Soccer League: The NWSL's Washington Spirit could play 2020 home games at three different venues: Audi Field, home of Major League Soccer's D.C. United; Segra Field in Leesburg (VA), home of D.C. United's USL Championship affiliate called the Loudon United; and the Maryland SoccerPlex in suburban Montgomery County where the team played the bulk of its 2019 games.

National Premier Soccer League: The New York Cosmos announced the team will not return to the elite-level men's NPSL in 2020 because the league will no longer allow professional players. The Cosmos were part of the Division-II North American Soccer League (NASL) for five seasons (2013-17) and started a reserve team called the New York Cosmos B in the NPSL starting with the 2015 season. When the NASL disbanded for the 2018 season, some of the Cosmos players started playing for the NPSL's Cosmos B. There is talk the Cosmos could join the new Division-III National Independent Soccer Association.

USL League One (United Soccer League): Although there has been no official announcement, the Lansing Ignite FC (Michigan), one of ten teams in the inaugural 2019 season of the Division-III USL League One, is not expected to return for the 2020 season.

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The Asheville City SC Blues (North Carolina), which has been part of the elite-level National Premier Soccer League for the past three seasons (2017-19), announced the team will move to the pre-professional USL League Two for the 2020 season.

OTHER

National Pro Fastpitch: The NPF's Cleveland Comets have renewed an agreement with the Mexico Olympic National Softball Team for the 2020 NPF season. The Cleveland Comets had a successful 2019 season with the team comprised of players from Mexico Softball. The 2019 season also had three other NPF teams represented by national teams from Australia (Aussie Peppers), China (Beijing Shougang Eagles) and Canada (Canadian Wild).

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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Frontier League Stories from October 21, 2019


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