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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 27, 2020 - American Arena League (AAL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: The independent Frontier League's Florence (KY) Freedom, which came under new ownership this past summer, announced its new team name will be the Florence Y'alls starting with the 2020 season. Other nickname options included the Go-Goettas, Fossil Jockeys, Pop Flies and No Sox. The Florence Freedom entered the league for the 2003 season with the relocation of the Johnstown (PA) Johnnies team. The Freedom played its first season in Hamilton (OH) until its new ballpark in Florence was ready for the 2004 season.

Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League: The Jamestown (NY) Jammers of the summer-collegiate PGCBL announced the team has been rebranded as the Jamestown Tarp Skunks ahead of the 2020 season. The team's ballpark has a problem with skunks and some even live inside the infield tarp. The Jammers sat out the 2019 season and came under new ownership in June 2019 when previous ownership donated the team to a Jamestown-based nonprofit group.

Coastal Plain League: The city of Newnan (GA), about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta, is considering construction of a new sports and entertainment complex that could become home to a future team in the summer-collegiate CPL.

BASKETBALL

BIG3 League: The BIG3 professional 3-on-3 touring basketball league, which is preparing for its fourth season after playing with 12 teams in 2019, has rebranded its 3-on-3 style of basketball as FIREBALL3 to avoid confusion with the 3-on-3 international FIBA game to be played in the Olympics. The BIG3 has consisted mainly of former National Basketball Association players, but to increase its talent pool it will reduce the minimum age limit from 27 to 22 and no longer require professional basketball experience.

National Basketball League – United States: The head of the Texas-based Men's Professional Basketball League, which has been playing with four or five teams mostly located in the San Antonio area since 2017, is changing to a new global league called the NBL-US. The new league wants to provide opportunities for players to showcase their talents to leagues in Europe and Asia. The NBL-US will be based in the United States with teams participating in various international tournaments and exhibition. For now, the NBL-US will consist of two regions. The Texas Conference will be named the MPBL Southern Conference representing the Men's Professional Basketball League and the Georgia Conference will be named the UMBL Eastern Conference representing the United Men's Basketball League. The NBL-US is also in discussions about a possible third conference. The league's inaugural season starts next month.

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a new team called the Wilson (NC) Wild has been added as a 2020-21 expansion team.

FOOTBALL

Liga Futbol Americano: Although Mexico's top professional American-style outdoor football league known as the LFA added a ninth team called the Pioneros de Queretaro in September 2019, the league will operate with only eight teams as the Mayas de Ciudad Mexico (Mexico City) team will sit out the 2020 season. The LFA's fifth season will run from early February through April 2020.

American Arena League: The AAL announced the Louisville Xtreme, formerly known as the Kentucky Xtreme, will be part of the league's 2020 season. The AAL listed the Kentucky Xtreme in the 2019 Midwestern Division standings as a replacement for the Chicago Aztecs team that dropped from the AAL right before the start of the 2019 season, but the Xtreme actually only played one AAL game. The five-team Mid-Atlantic Indoor Football League (MAIFL) is reported to be joining the AAL and will become an AAL East Division in 2020. The AAL is supposed to announce its 2020 schedule next week.

Canadian Football League: The CFL has entered into a partnership with Brazil's American-style football federation known as the CBFA to help grow the game in Brazil and allow an exchange of players between the two countries. Brazil's football federation has also become the newest member of the International Alliance of Gridiron Football (IAGF), which was created in November with elite football leagues and sports associations in 12 countries, including Canada and Mexico, that are committed to growing the game globally. The CFL also announced its Touchdown Atlantic event will feature a 2020 regular-season game played in Halifax (Nova Scotia), which is trying to become the future home of the Atlantic Schooners CFL expansion team.

HOCKEY

3ICE: The new 3ICE independent three-on-three professional ice hockey league plans to start play across North America in June 2021 with eight teams. This will be a travelling league with all eight teams visiting each tour city and playing in a bracket-style format to determine a champion at each tour stop. The league is planning nine weekend events at locations in the United States and Canada.

SOCCER

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The Louisville City FC and the Albuquerque-based New Mexico United of the Division-II USL Championship league will each add a new developmental U23 team in the 2020 season of the pre-professional USL League Two, formerly the Premier Development League (PDL). It is uncertain how the addition of the New Mexico United team will affect the Albuquerque Sol, which has been part of the USL League Two and PDL for the past six seasons (2014-19).

National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA recently announced the eight teams that will be part of its inaugural Spring Season starting late next month. Five of the teams called the Stumptown Athletic (Charlotte), Los Angeles Force, California United Strikers FC, San Diego 1904 FC and the Oakland Roots participated in the NISA's short fall showcase season in 2019. The other Spring Season teams include former National Premier Soccer League teams called the Detroit City FC and Chattanooga FC, along with the new Michigan Stars (Pontiac). Detroit and Chattanooga played some exhibition games against NISA teams during the 2019 fall showcase. The NISA will also operate a Fall Season that will include some additional teams.

Canadian Premier League: The proposed new Ottawa-based team that is trying to start play in the 2020 season of Canada's Tier 1 CPL will apparently be owned by the Atletico Madrid of Spain's La Liga and the CPL team could be called the Atletico Ottawa. The Atletico Madrid is part owner of a soccer team called Atletico San Luis in Mexico's top professional Liga MX.

National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite amateur-level NPSL announced its Northeast Region has been renamed the East Region; the Southeast Conference has been moved to the East Region; and the East Conference in the Midwest Region has been renamed the Rust Belt Conference for the 2020 season. The West Region will have the Golden Gate, Northwest and Southwest conferences; the Midwest Region will have the Great Lakes, North and Rust Belt conferences; the South Region will have the Gulf Coast, Heartland, Lone Star and Sunshine conferences; and the East Region will have the Keystone, Mid-Atlantic, North Atlantic and Southeast conferences.

OTHER

Rugby Super League: England's RSL, which has three professional divisions called the Super League, Championship and League 1 with relegation and promotion among the divisions, plans to add an Ottawa team in the third-division League 1 for the 2021 season. The RSL already has the Toronto Wolfpack team that started play in League 1 for the 2017 season and has since moved to the second-division Championship league. The founder of the Toronto Wolfpack purchased the Hemel Stags (England) of the RSL's third-division League 1 with plans to move the team to Ottawa for the 2020 season. This team will now start play as the Ottawa Stags in the 2021 League 1 season along with another North American team called the New York Rugby League based in New York City. The RSL plays the 13-man rugby league version that is different from the 15-man rugby union version.

Premier Lacrosse League: The tour-based professional PLL, which completed a successful inaugural 2019 season with six teams playing ten regular-season weekend events at different venues across the United States and Canada, announced its second and third 2020 events will be held at Kennesaw State in the Atlanta area and at Stony Brook University on Long Island (NY). The 2020 season will feature 7 teams playing over 15 weeks from May to September.

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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American Arena League Stories from January 27, 2020


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