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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
February 17, 2020 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL)

BASEBALL

Empire Pro Baseball League: The independent EPBL, also called Empire League Baseball, will again have six teams for the 2020 season but with a couple of changes. A team called the Tupper Lake (NY) Riverpigs has replaced the New York Bucks (Peru) in the North Country Division, while a team called the Georgia Rhinos has replaced the Puerto Rico-based travel team called the Road City Explorers in the South Caribe Division. The 2020 season will start in June.

California Winter League: This weekend the instructional CWL, which is billed as the official winter league of the independent Frontier League, completed its short 2020 season that ran from January 23 to February 11 with eight teams called the Alberta Grizzly, British Columbia Bombers, Canada A's, Manitoba North Stars, Oregon Lumberjacks, Palm Springs Chill, Palm Springs Power and Washington Blue Sox. All CWL games were again played at a complex in Palm Springs (CA). The league is a showcase for players trying to find a spot on a Frontier League team or other independent league teams that have representatives scouting talent for the 2020 summer season.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League's new Martinez (CA) team, which was originally named the Martinez Mackerel, officially announced its new name will be the Martinez Sturgeon when it starts play in the 2020 season. The "Mackerel" nickname faced objections due to negative references in the Urban Dictionary. The league site had Beavers and Pipeliners listed as other potential nicknames. The city had a short-lived team called the Martinez Clippers that played in only the 2018 season of the independent Pacific Association before folding. The city of Pittsburg (CA) approved a one-year lease at its local ballpark for a new Pecos League team called the Pittsburg Anchors. A team called the Pittsburg Diamonds last played in the 2018 season of the Pacific Association.

Pacific Coast League: The San Antonio Missions of the Triple-A PCL will play three games during the 2020 season as the San Antonio Puffy Tacos as a tribute to a staple of the local cuisine.

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball: The Northern California-based independent Pacific Association officially announced a team called the California Dogecoin (Fairfield) will be the league's fourth team for the upcoming 2020 season. The Dogecoin is a form of cryptocurrency. The league had five teams last season, but the San Rafael Pacifics and a travel-only team called the Salina Stockade will not be part of the 2020 season. The Pacific Association will be playing its eight season in 2020.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a team called the St. Mary's Bucks, based in Glen St. Mary just west of Jacksonville (FL), has been added as a 2020-21 expansion team.

Universal Basketball Association: The semi-pro UBA started its 2020 season earlier this month with 29 teams aligned in five regional conferences. The 2020 Northern Conference consists of six Ohio-based teams from the West Columbus Basketball League's Five League. The 2020 Eastern Conference has five Florida-based teams and is operated by the owner of the Melbourne-based Space Coast Stars, which has been part of the spring-summer Florida Basketball Association over the past few years. The Southern Conference has five Atlanta area teams and a South Carolina (Columbia) team, the Western Conference has four Dallas-Fort Worth area teams and a team from Oklahoma, while the Gold Conference has four other Texas-based teams and three Louisiana-based teams. The UBA season runs through June 2020.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: A previously announced new 2020 AAL team called the PA Copperheads (Pennsylvania), based in Mt. Pleasant about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, has apparently folded due to serious health issues regarding the team's owner.

Indoor Football League: The group running the new IFL team in Columbus (OH) has purchased the assets of the Columbus Destroyers team from the Arena Football League, which ceased operations after its 2019 season. It has not been announced whether the new 2021 IFL team will use the Destroyers nickname.

XFL: The new eight-team XFL has created a "Team 9" as an extra 40-player squad that will be used to fill open roster spots on any of the league's eight teams for the 2020 season. The "Team 9" will be based in Arlington (TX) and use the facilities of the league's Dallas Renegades team.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: If the sale of the AHL's San Antonio Rampage to the National Hockey League's Vegas Golden Knights is approved by the league, the Golden Knights stated the AHL team will be relocated and play the 2020-21 season at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. This arena was home to the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers from 2003 to 2014. The Golden Knights also announced a new 6,000-seat arena will be built in suburban Henderson as the permanent home to the AHL team. The AHL team will use "Henderson" in its name and the Henderson Silver Knights was one of the top options for a team name.

ECHL: The Richmond (VA) city council rejected plans for redevelopment of a ten-block downtown area that would have included a new 17,500-seat arena for a proposed ECHL team. The ECHL's Tulsa Oilers played a game this weekend as the Tulsa Oil Capitals in tribute to the city being known as the "Oil Capital of the World".

SOCCER

USL Academy League (United Soccer League): The USL Academy League, which will be the first pre-professional youth league geared toward professional player development, played an Eastern Conference regional tournament in Lakewood Ranch (FL) this weekend with 12 participating teams. Players are elite prospects primarily in the U15 to U19 age range and teams have a direct connection to a senior USL team in the USL hierarchy—USL Championship, USL League One or USL League Two. The USL held a similar Western Conference regional tournament in San Antonio this past October and it will hold a national tournament in May 2020.

Canadian Premier League: The new Ottawa-based CPL team officially announced it will be called Atletico Ottawa when it starts play in the upcoming 2020 season. Spain's Club Atletico de Madrid is the parent club of the Atletico Ottawa and it will run the team's soccer operations.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The USL has expressed interest in plans for a proposed new downtown stadium in Spokane (WA) that would be home to a team in the Division-III USL League One.

United Women's Soccer: The women's national pro-am UWS announced the addition of a new Southeast Conference for the 2020 season with three Florida-based teams called the Unity FC (Winter Haven), Orlando FC Royals and Puerto Rico Pride FC (Altamonte Springs). The Puerto Rico Pride FC played the past two seasons in the Women's Premier Soccer League. The UWS also announced the creation of a new developmental UWS League Two (UWS-2) for players in the U20 to U23 age group with these teams also serving a reserve team for UWS clubs.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The MLL announced a new team called the Connecticut Hammerheads, based in Fairfield just southwest of Bridgeport (CT), has been added for the 2020 season and the team will play home games at Fairfield University. The MLL had a team called the Bridgeport Barrage that played in the league's first three seasons (2001-03) before moving to Philadelphia. The MLL also announced it will not operate the Dallas Rattlers and the Atlanta Blaze franchises in the 2020 season, but stated the teams could return in the future.

World TeamTennis: The WTT announced the addition of a ninth team called the Chicago Smash for the 2020 season that will be played in the month of July. Chicago had teams called the Aces, Fyre and Fire in the earlier versions of TeamTennis with the last Chicago team playing 1986. The "Smash" nickname was used by two previous WTT teams called the Phoenix Smash (1992-94) and the Wilmington-based Delaware Smash (1996-2008).

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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