Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
October 28, 2019 - Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL)
South Atlantic League (SALLY): The Kannapolis (NC) Intimidators of the low Class-A SALLY announced the team's new name will be the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers as the team moves to a new downtown ballpark for the 2020 season. The new ballpark sits on the grounds of the former Cannon Mills Company, which at one time had the largest textile factory, and the name pays tribute to the Cannon family that built the city. The SALLY team called the Spartanburg (NC) Phillies moved to Kannapolis to become the Piedmont Phillies for the 1995 season, changed to the Piedmont Boll Weevils for the 1996 season, and then the Kannapolis Intimidators for the 2001 season.
American Association: The Kansas City (KS) T-Bones of the independent American Association will stay at its current stadium as new ownership has taken over and worked out a lease agreement with the local government. Under its previous ownership, the team had been evicted from its home stadium due to a default on rent and utility payments.
Florida State League: The Florida Fire Frogs (Kissimmee) of the high Class-A FSL have been seeking a new home for the 2020 season since their ballpark was purchased to be converted into a soccer facility. There is speculation the team could move to Cocoa (FL) in Brevard County where a group has expressed interest in purchasing the team. Before moving to Kissimmee to become the Fire Frogs for the 2017 season, the team played as the Brevard County Manatees in Viera (FL), just south of Cocoa. The team was forced out of Viera's Space Coast Stadium, which was taken over by the U.S. Specialty Sports Association.
Coastal Plain League: The summer-collegiate CPL's expansion team based in Colonial Heights (VA) announced it will be called the Tri-Cities Chili Peppers when it starts play in the 2020 season. Colonial Heights is part of Virginia's Tri-Cities area that includes Hopewell and Petersburg, which had a previous CPL team called the Petersburg Generals from 2000 through 2016.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced it will have over 150 teams in the 2019-20 season and a few early games have been played ahead of a full league start on November 2.
Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA's Atlanta Dream will be moving its home for the 2020 season from Atlanta's State Farm Arena, home of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, to the new smaller Gateway Center Arena in nearby College Park (GA). The Dream will share that facility with the Hawk's NBA G-League affiliate called the College Park Skyhawks.
National Arena League: The NAL announced it is expanding for the 2020 season with the addition of the West Virginia Roughriders (Wheeling) and Jersey Flight (Trenton) from the American Arena League (AAL). The Roughriders started as the Richmond Roughriders in the 2017 Arena Pro Football, which was merged into the AAL for the 2018 season. Prior to the 2018 season, the team announced plans to join the NAL for 2018, but eventually stayed with the AAL in 2018 and again played in the 2019 AAL after moving to West Virginia. Under previous ownership, the Jersey Flight was originally announced as a 2018 NAL expansion team, but did not meet league requirements and moved to the AAL starting in 2018.
American Arena League: The Bloomington (IL) Edge announced the team has come under new ownership and will return to play in the 2020 season as part of the AAL. The team started back in 2006 as the Bloomington Extreme and changed to the Edge for the 2012 season. After playing the 2017 season in Champions Indoor Football, the Edge was denied a move to the Indoor Football League for the 2018 season and played an independent schedule in the summer of 2018. The team was then put up for sale.
Elite Indoor Football: The EIF announced new teams called the Mass Effect (Boston) and Carolina Gorillas (North Carolina) will be part of the league's 2020 season.
XFL: The new outdoor XFL announced the schedule for its inaugural 2020 season that will feature eight teams each playing a ten-game schedule from early February to late April. 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.
Federal Prospects Hockey League: The FPHL, formerly known as the Federal Hockey League, started its tenth season of play this weekend and has grown from six to ten teams with the addition of four expansion teams for the 2019-20 season. Now aligned in two divisions, the Eastern Division features the returning Elmira (NY) Enforcers, Mentor (OH) Ice Breakers and Watertown (NY) Wolves, along with the new Danbury (CT) Hat Tricks and Delaware Thunder (Harrington). The Western Division has the returning Carolina Thunderbirds (Winston-Salem, NC), Danville (IL) Dashers and Port Huron (MI) Prowlers, along with new teams called the Battle Creek (MI) Rumble Bees and Columbus (GA) River Dragons. The FPHL season runs through April 5, 2020.
National Roller Hockey League: The professional NRHL is trying to restart play in 2020 and currently lists four teams called the Detroit Dragons, Port Huron Yetis, Grand Rapids Warthogs and St Louis Vipers.
The NRHL played a 2015-16 season with four Detroit area teams and has been trying to expand with teams across the United States and Canada playing in a summertime professional roller hockey league.
Major Arena Soccer League 2: The MASL2, which is a lower-level league affiliated with the Major Arena Soccer League, announced it will have nine teams for its third season in 2019-20. Only 4 of the 15 teams from last season called the Colorado Inferno (Colorado Springs), Colorado Rumble (Denver), New Mexico Runners (Albuquerque) and Muskegon (MI) Risers will return. The league has added five new teams called the Austin Power, Wichita Wings, Chicago Thunder, Falls Town Flyers (Wichita Falls, TX), and Chihuahua Savage (Mexico) for the 2019-20 season. All teams are aligned in one table and the season runs from early December 2019 through March 2020. The Falls Town Flyers were part of the inaugural 2019 summertime season of the U.S. Arena Professional Soccer League and the Chihuahua Savage played in the 2019 season of Mexico's pro indoor soccer league called Liga Mexicana de Futbol Rapido (LMFR). Last season's Rochester Lancers team moved up from the MASL2 to the MASL for the 2019-20 season. Last season's Chicago Mustangs team was sold in the off-season and will not return. The Mustangs stated they will have an amateur team in the Premier Arena Soccer League and a pro team in a new indoor league to be announced soon. The Mustangs also want to organize a new outdoor team for the 2020 season.
National Women's Soccer League: The NWSL, which is supported by the Canadian Soccer Association and the United States Soccer Federation, announced an expansion team in Louisville will be added for the 2021 season. The Louisville City FC men's team in the USL Championship (United Soccer League) will operate the NWSL team, which will play in the new 14,000-seat Lynn Family Stadium set to open in the spring of 2020. The NWSL operated with nine teams in the 2019 season and has four teams affiliated with men's Major League Soccer teams and one other team affiliated with a men's USL Championship team.
Major League Soccer: The MLS officially announced Sacramento has been granted an expansion franchise 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. The MLS operated with 24 teams in the 2019 season with plans to add Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF in 2020, Austin FC in 2021, and St. Louis and Sacramento in 2022. It might take some time to decide the league's 30th team and there is speculation of eventual expansion to 32 teams. Groups in Las Vegas, Charlotte, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Raleigh (NC) and San Diego have expressed interest in MLS expansion teams.
USL League One (United Soccer League): The Lansing Ignite FC (Michigan), one of ten professional teams in the inaugural 2019 season of the Division-III USL League One, officially announced the team has ceased operations due to a lack of revenue caused by low attendance.
Premier Lacrosse League: The tour-based professional PLL, which recently completed a successful inaugural 2019 season with six teams playing ten regular-season weekend events at different venues across the United States and Canada, announced it will add a seventh team for its return in 2020.
World TeamTennis: The WTT announced it will increase the post-season prize money for its 45th season that will run from July 12 to August 1, 2020. In addition, the WTT stated two new franchises will be announced in the next few months to increase the league to ten teams.
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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