Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
March 9, 2020 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: Mexico's top Triple-A level Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), or Mexican Baseball League, announced its 2020 season schedule that will feature the same 16 teams as last season aligned in an eight-team Zona Sur (South Division) and an eight-team Zona Norte (North Division). The regular-season will run from April 6 to August 6, 2020.
Major League Baseball: MLB's Tampa Bay Rays are still working toward a future split season that would have the Rays play half the regular-season with Tampa as its home and the other half with Montreal as its home starting with the 2028 season, a year after the Rays' current lease expires at Tropicana Field.
Pecos Spring League: The independent Pecos League started its 2020 showcase Pecos Spring League this week with teams called the Salina Stockade, Houston Apollos, Team Cuba and the Houston Hotshots playing a short season this month at a complex in Houston. Spring league players pay for the opportunity to be evaluated by the Pecos League and other independent leagues trying to sign players for the upcoming summer season. This is the ninth season for the Pecos Spring League. The Pecos League also held its second winter season of The Western League, which consisted of three teams called the Salina Stockade, Bakersfield Blues and Hollywood Stars playing a four-week season during the month of February with games played at ballparks in Bakersfield (CA) and Wasco (CA).
Northwoods League: The city of Oconomowoc in suburban Milwaukee approved construction of a proposed 2,500-seat ballpark that could become home to a summer-collegiate Northwoods League team for the 2021 season.
West Coast League: The summer-collegiate WCL announced the addition of its third Canadian team to be based in Nanaimo (British Columbia) starting with the 2021 season. The WCL had 12 teams in 2019 that included two British Columbia teams called the Victoria HarbourCats and Kelowna Falcons. The remaining WCL teams are located in the states of Oregon and Washington.
Liga Mexicana de Baloncesto Profesional Femenil: Mexico's professional women's league known as the LMBPF started its 2020 season a couple of weeks ago with ten teams. The league had eight teams last season but the Club Gamos de la Universidad Marista (Mexico City) and Aztks del Estado de México did not return. Four new teams called the Mustangs de Saltillo, Reales de Fresnillo, Marineras de Puerto Vallarta and Lobas de Aguascalientes were added for the 2020 regular-season that runs through early May.
American Basketball Association: Over the past couple of months, the semi-pro ABA announced four expansion teams called the Midwest Falcons (Aurora, IL), Las Vegas Diamondbacks, Wilson (NC) Wild and Derry (NH) Rockets will start play in the 2020-21 season.
Mid-South Basketball Association: The semi-pro MSBA has posted the schedule for its 2020 Spring Season that will feature eight teams playing from March 21 to May 23. The MSBA plays both a Fall Season and a Spring Season with some teams playing both seasons and other teams playing in just one season. New teams for the 2020 Spring Season are the Indiana Generals (Jeffersonville), Louisville Diesel and Kentucky Heat (Owensboro). A previously announced Spring Season team called the Jefferson County Hoops (Festus, MO) is not listed on the schedule.
American Arena League: The AAL's Carolina Energy has come under new ownership and was renamed the Charlotte Thunder for the 2020 season. Other 2020 AAL teams include the Carolina Cowboys (Pendleton, SC), Indianapolis Enforcers, Louisville Xtreme, Music City Fire (Nashville), Pennsylvania Union (Harrisburg), Tampa Bay Tornadoes, West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) and travel-only teams called the Carolina Predators (Greenville, SC) and South Florida Thunder (West Palm Beach). The five-team Mid-Atlantic Indoor Football League (MAIFL) is supposed to serve as a division of the AAL in 2020 and some AAL teams will play games against MAIFL teams during the 2020 season.
Indoor Football Association: The developmental IFA started its 2020 season last month with seven teams called the Harlem (IL) Insanity, Illinois Renegades (Chicago), Mad City Nightmare (Madison, IL), Midway Marauders (Bloomington, IL), Milwaukee Wolfpack, Southern Wisconsin Monsters (Racine) and State Line Sting (Rockford, IL). The 2020 regular-season runs from February 15 to May 3.
American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's St. Louis Blues announced a five-year affiliation with the AHL's Springfield (MA) Thunderbirds will start with the 2020-21 season. The Blues' former AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, was recently purchased by the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights and will be moved to Las Vegas next season. The Thunderbirds' four-year affiliation with the NHL's Florida Panthers expires after this season. When the AHL's former Springfield Falcons moved to become the Tucson Roadrunners after the 2015-16 season, the league's Portland (ME) Pirates were sold and relocated to become the Springfield Thunderbirds for the 2016-17 season. This week, the San Antonio Rampage played the last of three games this season as the Los Chimuelos de San Antonio in honor of its Hispanic heritage and the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). Los Chimuelos translates to "men who are missing teeth" and applies to dental issues with hockey players.
Federal Prospects Hockey League: The FPHL moved some home games for two of its lower-attendance teams, the Mentor (OH) Icebreakers and Battle Creek (MI) Rumble Bees, to other better-drawing FPHL markets. This season the FPHL scheduled three of its 2019-20 regular-season games in Bloomington (IL), which will be getting a 2020-21 expansion team. The league was considering Athens (GA) for possible expansion and scheduled two neutral-site games there this season. The first game went so poorly that the second game was moved to a regular FPHL city.
National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA, which started its inaugural 2020 Spring Season this weekend with eight teams, announced a team called the New Jersey Teamsters FC (Bayonne) will start play in the league in 2021. The team was part of the developmental United Premier Soccer League since 2017 and it will play friendlies and scrimmages this year.
United Women's Soccer: The national pro-am UWS is finalizing its conferences for the upcoming 2020 season. The MSC Peoria has been added to the Midwest Conference, which will have nine teams. The MSC Peoria was called the Midwest Soccer Club as part of the developmental United Premier Soccer League. The Bat Country FC (Batco FC) from the Austin area and the new Dallas International FC have been added to complete the four-team Southwest Conference. A new team called The City FC (Fresno, CA) has been added to the West Conference. The new developmental UWS League Two announced a Midwest Conference will feature four Michigan-based teams called the Detroit Sun Reserves, Livonia City FC, North Oakland Soccer Company (Rochester) and Rebels FC (Macomb County).
USL Championship (United Soccer League): The professional Division-II USL Championship started its 2020 season this week with 35 teams aligned in a 17-team Eastern Conference and an 18-team Western Conference. The league had 36 teams last season, but the Freson FC Foxes, Ottawa Fury FC and the Nashville SC, which was moving up to Major League Soccer for the 2020 season, did not return. The Miami FC purchased the Ottawa Fury franchise rights and took over Ottawa's spot in the 2020 Eastern Conference. The USL Championship added the expansion San Diego Loyal to the 2020 Western Conference. Three teams were renamed for the 2020 season: the Swope Park Rangers are now the Sporting Kansas City II, the Tulsa Roughnecks FC are FC Tulsa and the Bethlehem Steel FC is now the Philadelphia Union II. Each team will play a 34-game regular season from early March to mid-October.
National Premier Soccer League: As some of the West Region teams in the men's elite-level NPSL start their 2020 season schedules, the league announced a team called the Coyotes FC, based in Temple (TX), will start play in 2020 as part of the South Region's Lone Star Conference.
Major League Soccer: The MLS and Mexico's top soccer league called Liga MX recently announced the dates for the second edition of the Leagues Cup tournament this summer. The 2020 competition will grow from four teams from each league to eight teams from each league competing in July and August with a final in September.
Premier Lacrosse League: The tour-based professional PLL, which completed a successful inaugural 2019 season of field lacrosse with six teams playing ten regular-season weekend events at different venues across the United States and Canada, announced its first six events for 2020 will be held in Boston, Atlanta, Long Island, Baltimore, Dallas and Minneapolis. The six teams from last season called the Archers, Atlas, Chaos, Chrome, Redwoods and Whipsnakes will all return and the league added a new seventh team called the Waterdogs. The 2020 PLL season starts May 29.
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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