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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 20, 2020 - Florida State League (FSL)

BASEBALL

Florida State League: The Florida Fire Frogs of the high Class-A FSL will play its 2020 season at the Atlanta Braves' new spring training facility in North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota. The Fire Frogs played the past three seasons at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, but took a buyout and that facility was converted to a soccer complex. The future location of the team is uncertain since North Port is in the territory of the league's Charlotte Stone Crabs. The Fire Frogs had been working on a move to the Cocoa-based Central Florida Sports Park in Brevard County, but it was not available for the 2020 season.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League recently announced some changes to its 2020 lineup of teams. The White Sands Pupfish (Alamogordo, NM) team, which was part of the league since the inaugural 2011 season, has been removed from the 2020 schedule. The Tucson Saguaros were moved from the Pacific Division to the Mountain Division to keep the Mountain Division at six teams. The six-team Pacific Division will have all California-based teams with three returning teams and three recently added new teams called the Santa Cruz Seaweed, Martinez Mackerel and Pittsburg Anchors. A previously listed new Pacific Division team called the Atascadero 101s has disappeared. The new Martinez team already plans to announce a different team name next month. Martinez and Pittsburg were home to previous teams in the independent Pacific Association (PA). The Martinez Clippers played in the 2018 PA season, while the Pittsburg Mettle joined the PA in 2014, changed to the Pittsburg Diamonds the next season and dropped out after the 2018 season.

BASKETBALL

The Basketball League: As the TBL prepares for its third season that will start at the end of this month, a new team called the Little Rock Lightning is preparing to start play as a 2021 TBL expansion team. A former Little Rock Lightning team played in the 2011-12 season of the American Basketball Association.

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA announced the schedule for its 24th season in 2020 that will again feature the same 12 teams aligned in six-team Eastern and Western conferences. All teams will play a 36-game schedule from mid-May through September 2020.

Women's Minor League Basketball Association: The WMLBA recently announced the league has ceased operations after three seasons (2017-19). The league operated with only about five to six teams playing a short summer season. Teams called the San Antonio Troopers, Houston Galaxy and Dallas Lightning were part of all three seasons.

FOOTBALL

American West Football Conference: The AWFC announced its proposed new San Francisco Bay Area expansion team will not start play until the 2021 season. The AWFC completed its inaugural 2019 season with four teams and previously announced a 2020 expansion team called the Yakima (WA) Canines.

Impact Developmental Football League: The new indoor IDFL is organizing for a start in 2020 with six teams called the Southland Power (Chicago), Great Lakes Phoenix (Wilmot, WI), River City Rampage (St. Louis), Gateway Bluejackets (Wentzville, MO), Louisville Kings and Kentuckiana Kurse (Louisville). The Power and Phoenix teams were part of the 2019 Indoor Football Association. Each team will play a ten-game schedule from late February to late May 2020.

United Arena League: The Peach State Cats (Athens, GA) indoor football team, which was part of the 2019 American Arena League, is still trying organize the new UAL for a start in March 2020. The UAL announced two former Elite Indoor Football teams called the Georgialina Lions (Augusta, GA) and the Atlanta Furious will be part of the 2020 season. The Furious will play five games as a travel-only team. The league also announced the Palmetto Colts (Anderson, SC) will start play in the 2021 UAL season.

HOCKEY

Federal Prospects Hockey League: The group trying to bring an FPHL expansion team to the Memphis area for the 2020-21 season has ended its efforts for now. The proposed home for the team was to be the Landers Center in Southaven (MS), but it did not have enough open Friday and Saturday dates for next season. This arena was most recently home to a Southern Professional Hockey League team called the Mississippi RiverKings that folded after the 2017-18 season.

SOCCER

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the Division-II USL Championship league will be adding a Tampa Bay Rowdies U23 team in the pre-professional USL League Two for the 2020 season. The Rowdies operated a similar U23 team in the 2017 season of the Premier Development League, which became the USL League Two for the 2019 season.

Major Arena Soccer League: The head of the MASL's Orlando Seawolves team has left the organization, so the league has taken over operations of the franchise. The Seawolves were established for the 2018-19 season and the team's owner was co-owner of the MASL's failed Cedar Rapids (IA) Rampage team that folded after the 2017-18 season.

United Women's Soccer: The women's second-division UWS recently announced the Brooklyn City FC will join the league's East Conference for the 2020 season. The league's El Paso Surf announced the team is leaving the UWS and moving to the amateur-level Women's Premier Soccer League for the 2020 season. The Surf was one of only four teams in a 2019 UWS Southwest Conference.

Women's Premier Soccer League: The amateur-level WPSL announced the San Diego Strikers and Southern Soccer Academy (Atlanta) have been added as 2020 expansion teams. The WPSL's Steel City FC (Pittsburgh) has merged with the men's Pittsburgh Hotspurs SC club from the National Premier Soccer League and the merged club will operate under the Hotspurs name for the 2020 WPHL season. Also joining the WPSL for the 2020 season will be a new Rowdies Women team operated by the Tampa Bay Rowdies men's team in the Division-II USL Championship and the local Pinellas County United SC.

Canadian Premier League: A potential ownership group is trying to start up a new team in Ottawa that could become the eighth team in the seven-team CPL, possibly in time for the 2020 season. The city had the Ottawa Fury FC in the Division-II USL Championship over the past several seasons, but that team suspended operations after the 2019 season. The Ottawa Fury franchise was then sold to a group in Miami because it could not obtain sanctioning to continue playing in a league based in the United States.

National Premier Soccer League: The Tacoma Stars, a soccer team that has been playing indoor soccer as part of the Major Arena Soccer League since 2015, will operate an outdoor expansion team in the elite-level NPSL for the 2020 season.

National Women's Soccer League: The NWSL president recently stated there are several groups trying to join the league, but it does not want to dilute the talent by over-expansion. For now, the nine-team league is targeting 14 teams by the 2022 season with a Louisville team already announced for 2021.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The men's outdoor or field lacrosse MLL, which had around since 2001 and operated with six teams in 2019, will no longer have individually owned franchises and will become a single-entity league under a unified ownership group. The MLL has taken over all six of its current franchises and its exact team lineup for the 2020 season is uncertain at this time. The MLL has been facing competition from the tour-based professional Premier Lacrosse League that started play in 2019 with six teams and plans to return with seven teams in 2020.

Premier United League: The women's PUL ultimate frisbee league, which completed an inaugural 2019 season with 8 teams, recently announced its 2020 schedule that will feature 12 teams aligned in six-team divisions. Each team will play five games from early April to early June. All eight teams will return from last season and the league added four new teams called the Milwaukee Monarchs, Minnesota Strike, Portland Uprising (Maine) and D.C. Shadow (Washington).

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking changes in the sports world's leagues, teams and nicknames since April 2007.


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