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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
February 24, 2020 - Eastern League (EL)

BASEBALL

Moses Lake Pro Baseball League: Plans for the proposed new four-team MLPBL, which was to have all teams based in Moses Lake (WA), might not move forward. It does not appear the league will reach its goal for financing a 2020 season by early next month.

Eastern League: Major League Baseball officials will be meeting with politicians and local representatives in Binghamton (NY) next week to discuss the future of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies team in the Double-A Eastern League. The Rumble Ponies are one of 42 teams listed to be contracted as part of a reorganization of Minor League Baseball for the 2021 season and plans are for the Brooklyn Cyclones of the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League to replace Binghamton in the league.

Empire Pro Baseball League: The new Georgia Rhinos team that will be part of the 2020 EPBL, also called Empire League Baseball, will be based in Conyers (GA) just southeast of Atlanta.

Atlantic League: The Southern Maryland Blue Crab (Waldorf, MD) of the independent Atlantic League will be renamed the Southern Maryland Bleu Cheeses for eight Thursday home games during the 2020 season as part of a Wing Wars promotion.

Expedition League: The summer collegiate Expedition League announced its new 2020 team based in Sioux Falls (SD) will be called the Sioux Falls Sunfish. The league's attempt to expand with a team in Butte (MT) is still on hold until at least one or more Montana-based teams can be found to join the league.

BASKETBALL

East Coast Basketball League: The semi-pro ECBL started its 2020 season last week with 19 teams. The ECBL had 16 teams last season, but the East Carolina Cardinals (Greenville, NC) did not return and the league added four teams called the High Point (NC) Lycans, Carolina ShowTime (Orangeburg, SC), Georgia Fire (Atlanta) and a 2019 travel-only team called the Gastonia (NC) Snipers. A Northern Conference has a four-team Northeast and a five-team Northwest division, while a Southern Conference has five-team Southeast and Southwest divisions. The ECBL is playing in its sixth season.

BIG3: The BIG3 professional 3-on-3 touring basketball league announced the schedule for its fourth season that will run from June 20 through August 2020. The BIG3 will have the same 12 teams as last season and each event will consist of 6 games involving all 12 teams with games played on one day. Tour stops will be in Memphis, New York, Washington (DC), Minneapolis, Hartford, Sacramento, Miami and Chicago with playoffs in Portland and the championship in Detroit. 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.

Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): Mexico's Pacific Coast Basketball League known as the CIBACOPA, which is the country's second professional basketball league next to the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP), posted its 2020 season schedule that will feature the same nine teams as last season playing in a single-table format. Each team will play a 38-game schedule from mid-March through May. A team called the Gallos de Aquascaliente was supposed to be a tenth member, but the team recently announced it would not be part of the 2020 CIBACOPA.

Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA announced the addition of a new team called the Syracuse Nationals. The league is looking to expand into California with Long Beach, Los Angeles, Riverside and Anaheim as potential markets.

FOOTBALL

AF3 Arena Football Developmental League: The proposed new AF3 announced its first league game will be played in April 2021 between the Birmingham (AL) Vulcans and the Waterford Warthogs travel team. Birmingham and Waterford are listed with the East Ridge Reapers (Chattanooga, TN) in the Xtreme Football Conference. A three-team Ultimate Football Conference lists the Tennessee Oilers (East Ridge), Rome (GA) Rush and Dalton (GA) Destroyers. The league is trying to establish a team called the High Country Grizzlies (Boone, NC), which was the name of the team that played the 2017 season in the National Arena League and the 2018 season in the American Arena League. The AF3 is also trying to resurrect old arenafootball2 (Af2) team names, such as the Tennessee Valley Vipers and Florida Firecats. A Southern Oregon Tomcats team would use the nickname of the former Af2's Jacksonville Tomcats.

International Football League: Another proposed spring football league known as the IFL planned to start play with 18 teams in March 2020, but the start has been pushed back to March 2021. The IFL lists a nine-team Eastern Conference and nine-team Western Conference with 13 U.S. markets and 5 international markets represented by Frankfurt (Germany), London (United Kingdom), Vancouver, Toronto and Mexico City. All teams will be owned and operated by the league.

HOCKEY

Eastern Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level EHL announced two new teams called the Protec Jr. Ducks (Somerset, NJ) and the Keene (NH) Eclipse will be playing in the 2020-21 season, pending final approval by USA Hockey. The Eclipse will have teams in both the EHL and EHL-Premier, while the Ducks one team playing at the EHL level.

ECHL: The ECHL's Wichita Thunder will play a regular-season game next month as the Wichita Wind. The Wichita Wind was the name of the city's minor hockey league team that played three seasons (1980-83) as part of the former Central Hockey League.

Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League: The Ontario-based CPJHL, which is a Tier-III league under the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union, has terminated the membership of two teams called the Muskoka Anglers and Scarborough Wexford Raiders that are under the same ownership. The league hopes to find new teams for players from these teams.

SOCCER

National Premier Soccer League: The men's elite amateur-level NPSL announced the LSA Athletico Lanier (Gainesville, FL) has joined as a 2020 expansion team and will be added to the East Region's Southeast Conference.

Women's Premier Soccer League: The pro-am WPSL recently announced a team called the Broomfield (CO) Burn has been added as a 2020 expansion team. The WPSL also announced its 2020 conference alignment that will feature 131 teams across the United States. The league features East, South, Central and West regions, each aligned with regional conferences and divisions.

United Women's Soccer: The women's national pro-am UWS announced the a team called the Ladies Steel City FC, based in Joliet (IL), has been added to the league's Midwest Conference for the 2020 season. The team will play at the ballpark that is home to the Joliet Slammers of the independent Frontier League.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The outdoor field-lacrosse MLL announced a team called the Philadelphia Barrage will return to the league as a sixth team for the 2020 season. A previous MLL team called the Philadelphia Barrage played five seasons (2004-08) in the league after the Bridgeport (CT) Barrage moved to Philadelphia. The MLL also announced its 2020 season schedule will feature six teams each playing a ten-game schedule from May 30 to August 15. The league had six teams last season, but the Atlanta Blaze and the Dallas Rattlers teams will not be operated by the league in 2020 and two new teams called the Connecticut Hammerheads, based in Fairfield just southwest of Bridgeport (CT), and the Philadelphia Barrage were added for 2020. Other teams include the Boston Cannons, Chesapeake Bayhawks (Annapolis, MD), Denver Outlaws and the Long Island Lizards. The MLL is entering its 20th season.

Western Ultimate League: The new WUL women's ultimate frisbee league announced the schedule for the seven teams that will participate in the inaugural 2020 season. Six teams called the Portland (OR) Swifts, Seattle Cascades, San Francisco Falcons, San Diego Superbloom and Arizona Sidewinders will each play six games, while the Utah Wild will play only four games. The 2020 season runs from March 21 to May 9.

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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