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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
December 30, 2019 - National Basketball League of Canada (NBL Canada)

BASEBALL

Northwoods League: A third attempt to place a summer-collegiate Northwoods League team in the far Milwaukee suburbs is moving forward after the Oconomowoc (WI) commission recommended approval of a land-use plan for a proposed 2,200-seat ballpark. The potential ownership group had proposed similar plans in the city of Pewaukee (WI) and the village of Summit (WI).

Coastal Plain League: Investors are in discussions with the city of Brunswick (GA) about a proposed ballpark that could become home to a future team in the summer-collegiate CPL.

Prospect League: The new O'Fallon (MO) team in the summer-collegiate Prospect League announced it will be called the O'Fallon Hoots when it starts play in the 2020 season. The team decided to keep the nickname of the league's Hannibal (MO) Hoots team, which relocated to O'Fallon when the city's independent Frontier League team called the River City Rascals ceased operations after the 2019 season.

The Western League: The independent Pecos League recently announced it will return with a second season of its winter showcase and prospect exposure league known as The Western League. Teams called the Bakersfield Blues, Hollywood Stars, High Desert Yardbirds and Salina Stockade will each play a ten-game schedule of games at either Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield (CA) or Wasco Ballpark in Wasco (CA) from February 7 to February 29, 2020.

Expedition League: The summer-collegiate Expedition League announced a yet-to-be-named team in Sioux Falls (SD) will be added to the league's Clark Division for the 2020 season. The league is losing a Clark Division team called the Hub City Hotshots (Aberdeen, SD) that suspended operations for 2020.

BASKETBALL

Canadian Elite Basketball League: The professional men's CEBL recently announced it will add a seventh team called the Ottawa BlackJacks for its 2020 season. The CEBL is a single-entity operation that played its inaugural 2019 spring-summer season with six teams called the Edmonton (Alberta) Stingers, Fraser Valley Bandits (British Columbia), Guelph Nighthawks (Ontario), Hamilton Honey Badgers (Ontario), Niagara River Lions (Ontario) and the Saskatchewan Rattlers. Each of the seven teams will play a 20-game schedule from early May through early August 2020. The league has been talking to other potential ownership groups and it could add up to four teams by the 2021 season. The CEBL wants to have 12 teams aligned in East and West divisions by the 2022 season.

National Basketball League of Canada: The NBL-Canada started its 2019-20 season this week with eight teams aligned in four-team Atlantic and Central divisions. The league had ten teams last season, but two Atlantic Division teams called the Cape Breton Highlanders (Sydney, Nova Scotia) and Saint John (New Brunswick) Riptide were both granted a one-year leave of absence. Cape Breton was a 2016-17 expansion team. Saint John started as the Saint John Mill Rats, an original league member of the league in 2011-12, until changing to the Riptide for the 2016-17 season. With the loss of these teams, the St. John's Edge (Newfoundland/Labrador) was moved from the Central to the Atlantic Division. Each team will play a 36-game schedule through April 2020.

American Basketball Association: The ABA announced two more teams called the Hayward (CA) Legends and Peay Basketball of Harrisburg (PA) have been added as 2020-21 expansion teams.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: A new team called the Pennsylvania Copperheads, based in Mt. Pleasant about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, announced it has joined the AAL for the 2020 season.

Indoor Football Association: The semi-pro Midway Marauders indoor football team announced it will be part of the 2020 IFA with home games played at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington (IL). The Chicago-based Marauders played the 2017 and 2018 indoor seasons as part of the league called Midwest Professional Indoor Football and played outdoor football in 2019 as part of the semi-pro Mid States Football League. The Bloomington Edge indoor football team came under new ownership in October and had hoped to play out of the local arena in 2020 as part of the American Arena League, but lost out on the arena lease to the Marauders.

HOCKEY

Professional Inline Hockey Association: The PIHA, which has been around since 2002, is well into its 2019-20 season that runs from November to April. The ten-team PIHA Pros has a four-team East Coast Division and a six-team Rocky Mountain Division. The lower-level 30-team PIHA Semi-pros has a seven-team Rocky Mountain Division, a five-team Appalachian Division, a seven-team Northeast Division, a six-team Atlantic Division and a five-team Delaware Valley Division. This past summer, the PIHA merged with the American Inline Hockey League, which started play in 2008, and the combined league will continue to play as the PIHA.

SOCCER

USL League One (United Soccer League): The Division-III professional USL League One recently announced its 2020 season schedule that will feature 12 teams each playing a 28-game schedule from late March to early October. The league's inaugural 2019 season featured ten teams with all but the Lansing Ignite FC returning for the 2020 season. The league added three new teams called the Union Omaha (Nebraska), the New England Revolution II and a yet-to-be-named team operated by Major League Soccer's 2020 expansion team called Inter Miami CF. Another USL League One team called the Penn FC, based in Harrisburg (PA), will not participate in the 2020 season. This team started in 2004 as a USL Division-II team called the Harrisburg Islanders and changed to Penn FC for the 2018 season. The team decided to sit out the 2019 season with plans to move down a level to the USL League One in 2020, but the team has apparently ceased operations. The USL League One hopes to grow to 24 teams by 2021.

Liga MX: Mexico's top Division-I soccer league known as Liga MX has dropped the Veracruz Tiburones Rojos (Red Sharks) club prior to the league's second half of its two-part 2019-20 Apertura/Clausura season. The club was having financial problems with several complaints of unpaid player salaries. The Clausura portion of the season from January through mid-May 2020 will be played with 18 teams instead of the 19 teams that participated in the Apertura (July through November 2019) portion of the season. There will be no relegation of a Liga MX club to the Liga Ascenso after the Clausura schedule as Veracruz will be considered the relegated club. However, there will still be promotion of a club from the Liga Ascenso to the Liga MX at the end of the season as the Liga MX tries to eventually reach 20 teams.

League One British Columbia: A new Canadian regional Tier-3 soccer league called League One British Columbia, or League 1 BC, is trying to get off the ground for the 2021 season with six or eight teams and to provide a gap between youth and professional soccer in British Columbia. This league would be similar to the two other Canadian regional Tier-3 leagues called League 1 Ontario and the Premiere Ligue de Soccer du Quebec (PLSQ) that started play in 2014 and 2012, respectively. Two British Columbia teams called the Victoria Highlanders and the Vancouver TSS Rovers, which have been part of the USL League Two (United Soccer League) for the past few seasons, are expected to eventually move to the new league.

OTHER

Arena Lacrosse League: The senior men's semi-professional ALL started its fourth season last weekend with the same seven teams as last season and all located in Ontario (Canada). The ALL season will run through March 2020 with each team playing 14 games. The returning teams for 2020 include the St. Catharines Shockwave, Peterborough Timbermen, Paris RiverWolves, Oshawa Outlaws, Toronto Monarchs, Six Nations Snipers (Hagersville) and Whitby Steelhawks Oshawa and Whitby will play home games at Children's Arena in Oshawa, while Six Nations, St. Catharines and Whitby will play home games at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Hagersville. Peterborough and Toronto have their own home arenas. The AAL is also planning a 2020 season for its Women's Division with participating teams affiliated with men's AAL teams. The Women's Division played with three teams in 2018 and four teams in 2019.

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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National Basketball League of Canada Stories from December 30, 2019


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