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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
April 27, 2020 - Indoor Football League (IFL)

BASEBALL

American Association: The 12-team independent American Association announced it will try to start the 2020 season, which was to run from May 19 through September 7, in early July due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. If the league is allowed to play, each team will play 80-game schedules through September instead of the original 100-game schedules.

Minor League Baseball (MiLB): As negotiations continue with Major League Baseball (MLB) over the restructuring and contraction of the affiliated teams under MiLB, some MiLB teams might not survive the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the 2020 season. This could hurt MiLB's leverage against contraction from 160 to 120 teams. One potential restructuring plan has each of the 30 MLB teams operating four full-season affiliates and one Rookie-level team at their spring training complexes.

Pecos League: In addition to reducing its 2020 season schedule from 64 to 48 games per team and delaying its start until July 1 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league is down to ten participating teams. The Mountain Division's Trinidad (CO) Triggers and the Pacific Division's Wasco (CA) Reserve announced they will not be playing a 2020 season. The July 1 start date is not a certainty and other teams could also decide to sit out the 2020 season.

Cape Cod Baseball League: The ten-team summer-collegiate CCBL announced it has cancelled its entire 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

BASKETBALL

National Professional Basketball Association: Last month, the semi-pro NPBA announced it will add a summertime season in 2020 in addition to its traditional winter-spring season in 2020-21. The league currently lists an Eastern Division with six teams based in Michigan and Indiana and a Western Division with six teams based in Illinois and Wisconsin. Some of the new teams recently added include the Racine (WI) Wildcats, Kalamazoo (MI) Photons, Ann Arbor (MI) Wild, Aurora (IL) Hawks, Grand Rapids (MI) Fusion and Fort Wayne (IN) Panthers.

Central Basketball Association: Even without the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it looks like the springtime CBA was not going to return for its seventh season in 2020, as there have been no updates from the league since last fall. The CBA started play in 2014 when several teams left the Central Basketball League to form the league. Each team played a short eight-game schedule during the months of March, April and May with each season having anywhere from six to nine participating teams. The Bowling Green (KY) Hornets and Middle Tennessee Storm (Nashville) played in all six seasons. The other teams from the 2019 season included the Baltimore Shuckers, Fort Wayne Flite, Indianapolis Blaze, Jackson (TN) Eagles and the Memphis Rail Runners.

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced six teams called the Ball World Peace (Sacramento), New York Hoop Dragons (Long Island), Portland (OR) Storm, Rochester (MN) United, High Desert Pumas (California), and Idaho Outlaws (Boise) have been added for the 2020-21 season. The Portland Storm was a travel-only ABA team during the 2019-20 season. The ABA's recently announced Lawrence (KS) Admirals team is also listed as a member of the Official Basketball Association, which has delayed the start its inaugural 2020 spring-summer season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

BIG3: Due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the BIG3 professional 3-on-3 touring basketball league announced it will have to move the locations of its first two 2020 events scheduled for New York City and Memphis.

FOOTBALL

Extreme Football League: The 7-on-7 women's full-tackle indoor Extreme Football League, or X League, has adjusted its inaugural 2020 schedule due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Each of the eight teams will play only two regular-season games from June 20 through August 15. After the 2019 season of the Legends Football League (LFL), formerly the Lingerie Football League, the LFL morphed into the X League with the same eight LFL markets and all eight teams, except the Nashville Knights, taking new nicknames. Since that change, the Nashville Knights were dropped for failing to meet certain league requirements and replaced by the Kansas City Force. In the 2020 X League, the Atlanta Steam is now the Atlanta Empire, the Austin Acoustic is the Austin Sound, the Chicago Bliss is the Chicago Blitz, the Denver Dream is the Denver Rush, the Los Angeles Temptation is the Los Angeles Black Storm, the Omaha Heart is the Omaha Red Devils and the Seattle Mist is now the Seattle Thunder.

Indoor Football League: The owner of the IFL's Nebraska Danger (Grand Island) franchise, which suspended operations after the 2019 season and was put up for sale, has had some interest in the team but has not been able to find a suitable buyer locally or in other markets. The Danger was a 2011 IFL expansion team.

National Arena League: The seven-team NAL announced it will try to start the 2020 season on June 13, depending on the status of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and with approval of local governments. The NAL could start off playing games without fans. The original 2020 season was scheduled to run from April 4 through July 18.

HOCKEY

National Women's Hockey League: The NWHL officially announced an expansion team based in Toronto will be added as a sixth team for the 2020-21 season and the team is holding a name-the-team contest. The NWHL had cancelled plans to add expansion teams in Toronto and Montreal prior to its 2019-20 season. A women's hockey team called the Toronto Furies was part of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), which folded after the 2018-19 season with most of the top CWHL players boycotting the NWHL until a league with better salaries and player benefits was established. Many of the boycotting players joined the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) that operated a 2019-20 North American tour-based schedule.

United States Premier Hockey League: The Premier Division of the Tier-III USPHL announced the addition of eight western United States teams from the Western States Hockey League, which calls itself a Tier-II junior-level league under the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union. The former WSHL teams called the Fresno Monsters, San Diego Sabers, Anaheim Avalanche, Utah Outliers, Southern Oregon Spartans (Medford), Las Vegas Thunderbirds, Pueblo (CO) Bulls and Northern Colorado Eagles will be part of two new USPHL Premier-Division western conferences for the 2020-21 season. The USPHL stated applications are still being considered for the 2020-21 season, so there could be more changes coming.

North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL recently announced new ownership has taken over the league's dormant Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts franchise, which ceased operations after three seasons (2016-19) in the NA3HL, and moved the team to the Madison (WI) area where it is now called the Oregon (WI) Tradesmen. The Oregon Ice Arena was home to the NA3HL's Wisconsin Whalers team that moved to Wyoming after the 2018-19 season. The league's Elmira (NY) Jr. Soaring Eagles team has relocated to Holyoke (MA) as the Bay State Bobcats for the 2020-21 season.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL's 2021 Louisville expansion team, originally announced as the Proof Louisville FC, could receive a new nickname before it starts playing. The nickname was a tribute to the city and state's bourbon industry, but the team is now considering other options and this could include fan involvement. The NWSL announced a moratorium on practices for the 2020 season until May 15.

United Women's Soccer: The elite-level pro-am UWS, which usually plays a spring-summer schedule from May through July, announced earlier this month that it still intends to play a 2020 season for both the UWS and the new UWS League Two, but the team schedules will need to be adjusted due to delays caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Midwest Premier League: The new regional developmental MPL was unable to start its inaugural 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but it is planning for a 2021 season. The league currently lists nines teams based in Iowa, Illinois and Michigan. Several MPL teams had left the nationwide developmental United Premier Soccer League to form the new league.

OTHER

Western Lacrosse Association: Canada's British Columbia-based indoor (box lacrosse) Senior-A WLA will delay the start of its 2020 season, which was to run from May 21 through July 31, 2020, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The WLA will have the same seven teams as last season: the Burnaby Lakers, Coquitlam Adanacs, Langley Thunder, Maple Ridge Burrards, Nanaimo Timbermen, New Westminster Salmonbellies, and the Victoria Shamrocks. The WLA champion plays the champion of the Ontario-based Major Series Lacrosse for the Mann Cup.

Major Series Lacrosse: Canada's Ontario-based indoor (box lacrosse) Senior-A MSL will delay the start of its 2020 season, which was to run from May 31 to July 30, 2020, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The MSL will have the same six teams as last season: the Brampton Excelsiors, Brooklin Redmen, Cobourg Kodiaks, Oakville Rock, Peterborough Lakers and Six Nations Chiefs (Hagersville). The MSL champion plays the champion of the British Columbia-based Western Lacrosse Association for the Mann Cup.

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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