Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
February 3, 2020 - ECHL (ECHL)
Atlantic League: The owner of the Biloxi Shuckers in the Double-A Southern League has entered into early discussions with the city of Foley (AL), 40 miles southeast of Mobile, about construction of a new ballpark for an independent team, most likely in the Atlantic League. The owner was recently turned down by the city of Mobile for plans to place a 2021 Atlantic League team in the city's Hank Aaron Stadium, which became vacant after the Southern League's Mobile BayBears relocated to the Huntsville area. The Mobile stadium will now be used for high school and college baseball games, concerts and other events.
Expedition League: The summer-collegiate Expedition League announced a new team called the Rapid City (SD) Jackalopes will not start as planned for the 2020 season due to renovations that are still needed for its planned home stadium.
Prospect League: The summer-collegiate Prospect League announced a new team will be added in the city of Alton (IL), just north of St. Louis, for the 2021 season. The league was also trying to place a new team in Decatur (IL) for the 2020 season, but it could not work out an agreement to use Millikin University's new baseball stadium.
The Basketball League: The TBL, which started as the North American Premier Basketball (NAPB) for its inaugural 2018 winter-spring season, started its 2020 season this week with 12 teams aligned in one table for the standings. Of the ten teams from last season five teams called the Albany (NY) Patroons, Jamestown (NY) Jackals, Owensboro (KY) Thoroughbreds, Tampa Bay Titans and Raleigh (NC) Firebirds have returned, while five teams called the Kansas City Tornadoes, New York Court Kings, Mesquite (NV) Desert Dogs, San Diego Waves and Yakima (WA) Sun Kings did not return for 2020. The league added seven new teams called the Indianapolis Express, Dallas Skyline, Columbus Condors, Lewisville (TX) Yellow Jackets, Tri-State Admirals (New Jersey), Gulf Coast Lions (Bradenton/Sarasota) and Dayton Flight. Each team will play a 24-game schedule from January 31 through April 19, 2020.
Mid-South Basketball Association: The MSBA announced the Indiana Generals (Jeffersonville) have joined the league for the 2020 season. The team is located near Louisville and has been part of the Universal Basketball Association for the past few seasons. The MSBA lists two other new teams called the Kentucky Heat (Owensboro) and Jefferson County Hoops (Festus, MO) added for the 2020 spring season.
North American Basketball League: Although it has lost some 2019 teams to other semi-pro basketball leagues, the spring-season semi-pro NABL stated the league will return in 2020 with an announcement coming soon. The NABL played with 17 teams in 4 regional divisions in 2019.
National Football League: Although the NFL approved the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas back in 2017, the team officially announced its new Las Vegas Raiders name as it prepares to play the 2020 season at its new stadium in Las Vegas. The NFL commissioner stated Toronto would be a suitable market to explore for possible foreign expansion, but a new stadium that is up to NFL standards would be a requirement.
National Gridiron League: After failing to get off the ground as planned last year, the proposed 12-team indoor NGL recently cancelled organized team activities across the country and has yet to announced a schedule for its 2020 season.
American Hockey League: The head of the AHL's Chicago Wolves stated its affiliation with the National Hockey League's Vegas Golden Knights will most likely end after this season. The Golden Knights are seeking to purchase and relocate an existing AHL team to the Las Vegas area. It is unlikely the independently owned Chicago Wolves would be sold and relocated, so the Golden Knights would have to find another AHL candidate and the Wolves would need a new NHL affiliate. A new Las Vegas area team could initially play at Orleans Arena, which was home to the former Las Vegas Wranglers ECHL team.
ECHL: The city of Richmond (VA) is considering construction of a new arena that could become home to a new minor-league hockey team in the ECHL. The league has endorsed locating a team in the proposed 17,500-seat arena. A former ECHL team called the Richmond Renegades played in the league from 1990 to 2003. Another version of the Richmond Renegades played three seasons (2006-09) in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
USL League Two (United Soccer League): The pre-professional under-23 USL League Two, which was known as the Premier Development League (PDL) prior to the 2019 season, announced the addition of a new yet-to-be-named team in Peoria (IL) and the FC Bascome Bermuda team. The PDL had a previous team called the Bermuda Hogges for three seasons (2010-12). The league's WSA Winnipeg team, which has been a member since 2010, has been purchased and renamed FC Manitoba for the 2020 season.
USL League One (United Soccer League): Major League Soccer's 2020 expansion team called Inter Miami CF announced its developmental team will be called Fort Lauderdale CF (Club de Futbol) when it starts its first season in 2020 as part of the 12-team Division-III USL League One.
Major League Soccer: The new Nashville SC expansion team in the 2020 MLS season is having issues with a proposed new soccer-specific stadium, since a new mayor is not moving forward with demolition needed at the stadium site. The group trying to build a new MLS-style stadium at the site of Cashman Field, which is currently being used by the Las Vegas Lights FC of the Division-II USL Championship league, expects to present a stadium development agreement to the city in two weeks. The Columbus Crew denied rumors the team will be rebranded as part of a move to a new stadium in 2021.
Canadian Premier League: Canada's Tier 1 CPL officially announced an expansion team will be added in Ottawa and become the eighth team for the league's second season in 2020. The new team will be operated by Spain's Club Atletico de Madrid and Atletico Ottawa is a possible team name. An official introduction of the team is planned for later this month.
National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA announced the schedule for its inaugural 2020 Spring Season that will feature 8 teams each playing 14 games from late February until mid-June.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The elite-level WPSL announced a few more new teams for the 2020 season that include the Soccer House Academy (Rockville Centre, NY), Santa Maria (CA) Synergy SC, Boise (ID) Cutthroats FC, North Jersey Alliance FC (Newark), Milwaukee Bavarians, Minnesota Thunder (Richfield) and Alta California SOL (Santa Barbara). The Houston Aces team, which played four seasons (2012-15) in the WPSL and the past four seasons (2016-19) in the United Women's Soccer, is returning to the WPSL for the 2020 season.
Major League Rugby: The Austin Herd MLR franchise has come under new ownership and the team will start the upcoming 2020 season next week as the Austin Gilgronis (the AGs). The "Gilgronis" are named after a new Texas-sized cocktail that is soon to be released. The MLR's Austin team played as the Austin Elite Rugby for the league's first two seasons in 2018 and 2019 season, but was renamed the Austin Herd after the 2019 season and never played a regular-season game under that name.
Interstate Box Lacrosse Association: The men's senior-level IBLA will add a Regional Box Lacrosse League (RBLL) in Michigan, Pennsylvania and the Southeast for the upcoming 2020 summer season and grow to 12 member RBLLs in 2020. The nine RBLLs from 2019 were in Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey, New England, California, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pacific Northwest and Colorado. Teams in each RBLL play a regional schedule and send a representative team to an IBLA national final tournament. Some of the new teams in 2020 include the Grand Rapids Grizzlies, East Cobb LC (Atlanta), Charlotte Reapers, Mooncrest Munitionz (Pittsburgh), Murrysville Haymakerz (Pittsburgh), San Diego Whalers and Iowa Dogfish.
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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