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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 11, 2019 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League is considering Mesquite (TX), just east of Dallas, for a future expansion team. The league has had the Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters in the Houston area as its lone Texas-based team since the Skeeters joined the league for the 2012 season. At that time, the league had hoped to eventually create a four-team Western Division with teams from Texas and Louisiana. The city and league officials are in preliminary discussions about a new ballpark that would not be ready until 2021.

American Association: The independent American Association announced its 2020 season schedule that will feature the same 12 teams as last season and aligned in six-team North and South divisions. The season will run from mid-May through the first week of September.

Pioneer League: The Missoula (MT) Osprey of the advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League announced the team's new name will be the Missoula PaddleHeads when it starts play in 2020. The Missoula Osprey joined the league for the 1999 season with the relocation of the Lethbridge (Alberta) Black Diamonds. The Osprey team had come under new ownership prior to the 2019 season.

New England Collegiate Baseball League: The Bristol (CT) Blues of last season's Futures Collegiate Baseball League are moving to the summer-collegiate NECBL for the 2020 season. The NECBL had previous Bristol-based teams called the Bristol Nighthawks for two seasons (1994-95) and the Bristol Collegiate Baseball Club for the 2010 season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association – Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA G-League started its 2019-20 season this weekend and has grown from 27 to 28 teams. The NBA's New Orleans Pelicans added its new G-League affiliate for the 2019-20 season as another version of the Erie (PA) BayHawks. The Pelicans will keep the team in Erie for at least the next two seasons until a renovated arena is ready for the team's eventual move to Birmingham (AL). The NBA's Atlanta Hawks operated its G-League team as the Erie BayHawks for the past two seasons (2017-19), but now that a new arena is ready in College Park, just outside Atlanta, the Hawks' G-League team starts the 2019-20 season as the College Park Skyhawks. Also in the off-season, the NBA's Boston Celtics entered into an agreement to purchase and take full control of the G-League's Portland-based Maine Red Claws team, which has been part of the league since the 2009-10 season and was the lone affiliate of the Celtics since the 2012-13 season. Each of the 28 G-League teams will have a one-to-one relationship with 28 of the 30 NBA teams either through an affiliation or ownership situation. Only the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets do not own a G-League team or have a one-to-one G-League affiliation.

Maximum Basketball League: The MBL, formerly known as the Midwest Basketball League, continues expansion for its 2020 season with the addition of teams called the ArkLaTex Takeover (Shreveport, LA) and the North Texas Prowlers (Argyle). The Prowlers are also participating in the 2019-20 season of the American Basketball Association.

Official Basketball Association: A new semi-pro basketball league known as the OFA has been organizing since July for its initial spring-summer season that will start in April 2020. The league currently lists 28 teams aligned in 4 regional divisions. Five of the OFA teams were part of last season's Midwest Basketball League, now the Maximum Basketball League.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The IFL has posted the participating teams for its 2020 season and it does not include the Grand Island-based team called Nebraska Danger, which was a 2011 IFL expansion team. The team was put up for sale after the 2019 season, but new ownership was not found in time for the 2020 deadline. The IFL operated with ten teams in 2019, but has grown to 12 teams with the addition of expansion teams called the Oakland Panthers and Spokane Shock, along with the established Albuquerque-based Duke City Gladiators from Champions Indoor Football.

Champions Indoor Football: The CIF announced its 2020 season schedule that will feature seven teams each playing 12 games from mid-March to late June 2020. The CIF started the 2019 season with eight teams, but the Frisco-based Texas Revolution folded during the season and the Albuquerque-based Duke City Gladiators left to join the Indoor Football League after the season. The six remaining teams will all return in 2020 and the league added a yet-to-be-named West Texas (Odessa) team. The CIF and the National Arena League had announced a merger for the 2020 season, but those plans never moved forward.

National Football League: The owner of the NFL's San Diego Chargers has denied rumors the team would consider a move to London, England in the near future and the league issued a statement claiming there have been no discussions about the Chargers relocating. Questions have surfaced about the Chargers' long-term success in Los Angeles after moving from San Diego for the 2017 season. The Chargers have been playing in a soccer-specific stadium, but will start sharing the new So-Fi Stadium next season with the league's Los Angeles Rams.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: A group in Toronto has secured an investment for a new development that would include a 25,000-seat arena for a proposed second Toronto-based NHL team to be called the Toronto Legacy Aces. There have yet to be any discussions with the NHL or the city about these plans. The group wants this second Toronto-based NHL team to start play in the 2021-22 season, but it would play its first three seasons in Hamilton. The idea of a second Toronto NHL team has been tried and failed in the past.

Greater Metro Hockey League: The new GMHL West division of Canada's independent Junior-A GMHL has finalized the schedule for the remainder of the 2019-20 season and it will feature only three Alberta-based teams—the Slave Lake Icedogs, Northern Alberta Tomahawks (Enoch) and High Prairie Redwings. The league's Edmonton-based team called the YEG Academy Wings has been relocated to become the High Prairie Redwings for the remainder of the series. A fourth GMHL West team called the Rosetown Red Wings (Saskatchewan) was unable to start this season as planned.

SOCCER

National Independent Soccer Association: The New York Cosmos have applied for membership in the Division-III professional NISA for the 2020 season. The Cosmos have been part of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) with a team called the New York Cosmos B since the 2015 season, but the NPSL implemented a restriction on the use of professional players starting in 2020 so the team was looking for a new league. The Cosmos played in the NPSL's six-team Members Cup competition this fall. The NISA operated an inaugural NISA Showcase this fall with seven teams and several other teams are expected to be added for the start of league play in Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 seasons.

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The amateur-level Oakland County FC (Clawson, MI) is moving from the United Premier Soccer League to the pre-professional USL League Two for the 2020 season. The team has been around since 2014 when it started as the Oakland United FC.

Premier Arena Soccer League: The amateur-level PASL recently announced its 2019-20 Great Lakes Division will include the same seven teams from last season called the Brew City Legends (Milwaukee), Chicago Mustangs, Cincinnati Swerve, Detroit Waza Flo, Great Lakes Wanderers (Cedar Springs, MI), Queen City Sonics (Cincinnati) and the Youngstown (OH) Nighthawks, plus a new yet-to-be-named team in Rockford (IL).

USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Ottawa Fury FC of the Division-II USL Championship announced the team is suspending operations for the 2020 season because it was unable to obtain sanctioning to play in a league based in the United States. With the arrival of the new professional Canadian Premier League in 2019, Canada Soccer tried to force the Fury to join the CPL and the Fury had to go to arbitration to obtain one-year sanctioning to remain in the USL Championship. The Ottawa Fury FC played three seasons (2014-16) in the former NASL before joining the USL for the 2017 season. The ownership of the Des Moines Menace in the pre-professional USL League Two has presented plans for a new 6,000- to 8,000-seat soccer stadium that it hopes will become home to a team in the Division-II USL Championship by the 2022 season.

OTHER

Major League Rugby: The Glendale (CO) Raptors of the professional MLR announced the team has been renamed the Colorado Raptors as it prepares for the league's third season starting in February 2020.

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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