Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
November 4, 2019 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League announced its schedule for the 2020 season that will again feature eight teams aligned in a four-team Liberty Division and a four-team Freedom Division. The league's New Britain (CT) Bees have left the league and will operate as a summer-collegiate team in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League for the 2020 season. The Atlantic League will operate a travel-only team called the Road Warriors that will take New Britain's place in the Liberty Division. The Road Warriors were last used as an eighth team for the league's 2018 season. The New Britain Bees joined the Atlantic League for the 2016 season after the city's Double-A Eastern League team called the New Britain Rock Cats moved to become the Hartford Yard Goats. The Atlantic League is hoping a new team in Gastonia (NC) will start play in the 2021 season to replace the Road Warriors.
Futures Collegiate Baseball League: The summer-collegiate FCBL announced its 2020 season schedule that will again feature seven teams. The league has added the New Britain Bees team, which was formerly a member of the independent professional Atlantic League, as a 2020 expansion team. New Britain replaces the league's Bristol (CT) Blues team that will not return for the 2020 season.
Western Canada Baseball League: The summer-collegiate WCBL has accepted the expansion application for a team in Sylvan Lake (Alberta) that will start play in 2021. The WCBL is comprised of teams from the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Major League Baseball: MLB's Tampa Bay Rays have made a formal request to play some home games in Montreal prior to the team's lease ending in 2027. This could start in 2024 if construction on a proposed new ballpark in Montreal moves forward.
The Basketball League: The semi-pro TBL has added the Indiana Express (Indianapolis area), or Indy Express, as the league's 13th team for its third season starting in January 2020. The TBL operated with ten teams last season, but four teams called the San Diego Waves, Kansas City Tornadoes, New York Court Kings and Yakima Sun Kings will not return. Along with the Indy Express, the TBL added six other new teams called the Dallas Skyline, Columbus Condors, Lewisville (TX) Yellow Jackets, Tri-State Admirals (New Jersey), Dayton Flight and Gulf Coast Lions (Bradenton/Sarasota). A previously announced new 2020 team called the San Diego Armada will now start in 2021 when the TBL adds several other western teams that will include a return of the 2019 Yakima (WA) Sun Kings and teams in Salem (OR), Portland (OR) and the Seattle area.
American Basketball Association: The Buckhannon (WV) Bears is another new team for the 2019-20 season of the semi-pro ABA. The team was formed by the organizer of the league's West Virginia Warlocks (Fairmont) team.
Fan-Controlled Football League: The proposed new interactive FCFL, which plans to be the first fan-controlled professional sports league with fans electronically calling plays, was supposed to start play this year with eight teams. The league now states it will debut in early summer 2020 with teams playing 7-on-7 indoor football at a customized arena in Las Vegas.
Arena Football League: The AFL announced it is closing local business operations and services for each of its six teams and a decision will be made in the next few weeks as to whether the league will suspend all operations. The league was sued last week by a former insurer that provided workers' compensation coverage to the AFL from 2009 to 2012. The multi-million dollar lawsuit, which alleges unpaid premiums and payment for a previous settlement on the policy, has created significant financial constraints for the AFL. The league is considering more of a touring model for the future in which teams would not have home arenas, but would train at a centralized location and travel to games at different locations each weekend. The six AFL teams in the recent 2019 season included the Albany (NY) Empire, Atlantic City (NJ) Blackjacks, Baltimore Brigade, Columbus Destroyers, Philadelphia Soul and Washington (DC) Valor.
Indoor Football League: The IFL announced a new team called the Spokane Shock (Washington) has been added as a 2020 expansion team. A Spokane Shock team played four seasons (2006-09) in the original Arena Football League's minor league called arenafootball2 (af2) and six seasons (2010-15) in the reorganized version of the AFL. The team switched to the IFL where it became the Spokane Empire, but folded after two seasons (2016-17) in the league.
Canadian Football League: The CFL and the French American Football Federation will hold a CFL combine in Paris in 2020 for the top French football players. The CFL could hold a regular-season game in France by the 2023 season. The CFL will be holding combines with several other European leagues.
American Hockey League: As they did for a game last season, the AHL's San Antonio Rampage played a game this weekend as the Los Chimuelos de San Antonio in honor of its Hispanic heritage and the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). Los Chimuelos translates to "men who are missing teeth" and applies to dental issues with hockey players. The Los Chimuelos will return for two additional games this season.
Greater Metro Hockey League: The new GMHL West division of Canada's independent Junior-A GMHL has been playing with only three teams since early October, as the Rosetown Red Wings (Saskatchewan) have yet to start play. The prospects of playing in Rosetown appear to be dead and there has been an attempt move the team to High Prairie (Alberta).
United States Premier Hockey League: The Jersey Shore Whalers (Howell, NJ) of the Tier-III junior-level USPHL-Premier Division forfeited two games last weekend and it looks like the team has folded.
National Women's Soccer League: After announcing a new team for Louisville in 2021, the nine-team NWSL could expand to ten teams for the 2020 season with a new Sacramento-based team, which would be run by the group that will operate the recently announced men's Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team. The current MLS teams in Atlanta, Cincinnati and Los Angeles, along with the future MLS market of Austin, have also been mentioned for potential NWSL expansion teams. A second NWSL team could be added in 2021 with Louisville and another two teams in 2022. A non-MLS group in Atlanta tried to organize a NWSL team known as the Atlanta Vibe a couple of years ago. The NWSL has been financially supported by the U.S. Soccer Federation since its start in 2013, but team owners are looking to take more control of the league that could soon grow to 14 teams.
Western Indoor Soccer League: The elite-level WISL, which has all teams based in the state of Washington, recently announced its 2019-20 season schedule that will again feature the same six teams as last season: the Bellingham United FC Hammers, Oly-Pen Force (Bremerton), Oly Town Artesians (Olympia), Snohomish Skyhawks, Tacoma Narrows FC and Tacoma Stars Reserves. The season runs from mid-November 2019 to early February 2020. The WISL first started play in the 2014-15 season.
Canadian Premier League: The commissioner of the seven-team professional CPL stated the league could grow by two or three teams for its second season in 2020 and an announcement could come in the next 30 days. The league is also in favor of the Ottawa Fury FC from the Division-II USL Championship (United Soccer League) possibly switching to the CPL next season. The 2019 CPL season featured a 10-game spring competition (April to July) and an 18-game fall competition (July to October) with playoffs finalized this weekend.
USL League Championship (United Soccer League): The new San Diego-based team in the Division-II USL Championship league announced it will be called the San Diego Loyal when it starts play in the 2020 season. The league's Fresno FC Foxes team announced it will be relocating due to the expenses involved in using the local baseball stadium as its home field since the team's start in 2018. The team wants to secure a soccer-specific venue and is reported to be considering a field at Cal State University-Monterey Peninsula in Seaside (CA). Any renovations required for that field would not make it ready until the 2021 season.
USL League One (United Soccer League): An official from the Division-III USL League One recently visited the site of a proposed soccer stadium in Lexington (KY) for a team that could start in 2021 if the stadium plans forward.
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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