Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
December 16, 2019 - Frontier League (FL)
Frontier League: The Rockland Boulders (Pomona, NY), a former Can-Am League team that became part of the Frontier League in a recent off-season merger of the two leagues, announced the team will play as the New York Boulders when it starts play in 2020. The Boulders joined the Can-Am League as a 2011 expansion team.
United Shore Professional Baseball League: The developmental USPBL announced the schedule for its fifth season in 2020 that will feature the same four teams as last season playing a total of 75 games at Jimmy John's Field in Utica (MI). Teams include the Eastside Diamond Hoppers and Utica Unicorns in the East and the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers and Westside Woolly Mammoths in the West. The USPBL is for players between the ages of 18 to 25 and the season runs from early May through Labor Day.
Major League Baseball: The owner of MLB's Tampa Bay Rays stated the team will not scrap plans to split its season between proposed new stadiums in Montreal and Tampa, but will wait until 2028. The team's current lease at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season.
Liga Norte de Mexico: Mexico's Double-A LNM, or Northern Mexico League, played its 2019 season with only five teams, but could expand to eight teams for the 2020 season. All five teams from last season have been confirmed for 2020, plus a new team called the Otay Industriales in the Tijuana area. Another new team from Baja California Sur is possible along with a new team from a yet-to-determined location.
National Basketball Association G-League: The NBA's G-League announced it will add a 2020-21 expansion team in Mexico City that will be represented by the Mexico City's Capitanes team that currently plays as the Capitanes de la CDMX (Ciudad de Mexico) in Mexico's top professional league called the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP). The Capitanes started play in the 2017-18 LNBP season and signed a five-year agreement to play in the G-League.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced a new team called the Alaska SeaSonics has been added as a 2020-21 expansion team. The ABA had a proposed Anchorage-based team called the Alaska Dream that never started play as planned in the 2008-09 season. The Anchorage-based Alaska Quake played two seasons (2011-13) in the ABA. The owners of the Quake had another Anchorage-based team called the Alaska 49ers that was also part of the 2012-13 season.
Indoor Football League: The IFL's new team in Frisco (TX) announced it will be called the Frisco Fighters when it starts play in the 2020 season. Frisco's most recent indoor football team was the Texas Revolution, which played the 2018 season and three home games of the 2019 season as part of Champions Indoor Football before being terminated by the league during the 2019 season. The ownership of the new Frisco Fighters also announced it will place an IFL expansion team in Columbus (OH) for the 2021 season. Columbus was home to the Columbus Thunderbolts for one season (1991) and the Columbus Destroyers for five seasons (2004-08) in the original Arena Football League (AFL). Another team called the Columbus Destroyers was part of the 2019 season in the newer version of the AFL that just folded.
National Arena League: The NAL announced its 2020 season schedule that will feature seven teams each playing 12 to 13 games from early April through mid-July. Of the six teams from last season, the Carolina Cobras (Greensboro, NC), Columbus (GA) Lions, Jacksonville Sharks, Massachusetts Pirates (Worcester) and Orlando Predators have returned. Only the 2019 expansion team called the New York Streets (Westchester County) did not return for 2020. The NAL added the West Virginia Roughriders (Wheeling) and Jersey Flight (Trenton) from the 2019 American Arena League. A 2018 NAL team called the Maine Mammoths (Portland) that sat out the 2019 season failed in an attempt to return in 2020. A new team called the Atlanta Jaguars was mentioned as a 2020 NAL addition, but the team backed out. A proposed merger between the NAL and Champions Indoor Football to create a newly named combined league for the 2020 season fell through in October.
Canadian Football League: The Halifax (Nova Scotia) municipal council voted in favor of providing $20 million in financing toward a new stadium for the CFL's proposed Atlantic Schooners expansion team. The Schooners' ownership still has to find a stadium site and obtain necessary provincial funding.
American Hockey League: The group involved with the National Hockey League's Seattle expansion team, which will have its AHL affiliate in Palm Springs (CA), has been denied a trademark registration for the proposed Palm Springs Firebirds name. Although the group has filed for trademarks on several other names, it has six months to appeal this decision.
North American Hockey League: The new Wichita Falls (TX) expansion team in the junior-level Tier-II NAHL will be called the Wichita Falls Warriors when it starts play in the 2020-21 season. Flames, Falcons and Reign were other options in a name-the-team contest. 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, which folded in December 2018 after only two months of operation.
Major League Soccer: MLS is expected to announce next week that Charlotte will be the league's 30th team. The proposed Charlotte team has apparently filed trademark registrations for eight names: Charlotte FC, Charlotte Crown FC, Charlotte Fortune FC, Charlotte Monarchs FC, Charlotte Town FC, Charlotte Athletic FC, Carolina Gliders FC and All Carolina FC.
USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Ottawa Fury FC of the Division-II USL Championship transferred its franchise rights to the Miami FC, which will now be part of the 2020 USL Championship season. As the only Canadian team in the USL Championship's 2019 season, the Ottawa Fury FC suspended operations when it was recently denied sanctioning to be part of the USL in 2020. The Miami FC played two seasons (2016-17) as part of the Division-II North American Soccer League (NASL) and moved to the lower-level National Premier Soccer League for two seasons (2018 as Miami FC II and 2019 as Miami FC) when the NASL lost its Division-II status and eventually folded. The Miami FC joined the new Division-III National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) for its short 2019 fall showcase season and had been listed for the NISA's first full season in 2020. The Miami market is also adding Major League Soccer's Inter Miami CF in 2020 and that team will operate a Fort Lauderdale-based team in the Division-III USL League One. The USL Championship's Bethlehem Steel FC has been renamed the Philadelphia Union II for the 2020 season. Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union has owned and operated the Bethlehem Steel FC since its start in 2016. The team played its first three seasons (2016-18) in Bethlehem, but moved to the Union's MLS stadium in Chester (PA) for 2019 due to a lack of lighting at the Bethlehem location. The Union could not find a suitable new home venue for its USL team, so decided to keep it in Chester for the 2020 season and renamed it the Philadelphia Union II.
USL League Two (United Soccer League): The pre-professional USL League Two announced two more teams called the Grand Rapids FC and the East Atlanta FC have been added for the 2020 season. The Grand Rapids FC played the past four seasons (2016-19) in the National Premier Soccer League.
National Independent Soccer Association: The Oakland Roots team in the Division-III professional NISA announced it will launch a developmental team that will play in the 2020 season of the amateur-level National Premier Soccer League. The NISA will operate separate spring and fall seasons in 2020. The New York Cosmos recently join the NISA, but will not start play until the Fall 2020 season.
American Ultimate Disc League: The men's professional AUDL announced its 2020 season will see the league grow from 21 teams in four divisions to 22 teams in four divisions with the addition of a new yet-to-be-named Boston team to the East Division. A team called the Boston Whitecaps played all four seasons (2013-16) in a former competing league called Major League Ultimate. The AUDL will undergo some realignment for 2020 with the South and Midwest divisions being renamed the Atlantic and Central, respectively. The DC Breeze and Philadelphia Phoenix will move from the East to the Atlantic Division and the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds will move from the former Midwest to the Atlantic Division. The Austin Sol and Dallas Roughnecks will move from the former South Division to the West Division.
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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