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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
May 25, 2020 - BIG3 (BIG3)

BASEBALL

Empire Baseball League: The six-team independent pro EBL, which usually starts its season in mid-June and had pushed its 2020 start to July, announced it will need to make adjustments due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and will probably only play a two-month season. The EBL is considering operation of the entire league out of one facility or region. The pandemic has had an effect on finalizing the league's new Georgia Rhinos (Conyers) franchise that might not be able to start until the 2021 season.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League will hold a ten-day training camp starting June 20, 2020 at Coastal Baseball Field in Houston. This will lead up to the start of the 2020 season to be played at this field with five Central Division teams called the Salina Stockade, Roswell Invaders, Santa Fe Fuego, Trinidad Triggers and Tucson Saguaros. The schedule has been posted for games to be played in July.

Summer Collegiate Leagues: The 12-team Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, which is a member of the 12-league National Alliance of Summer College Baseball, announced it has cancelled its 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The ten-team summer-collegiate Expedition League plans to start play on July 1, 2020. The league's lone Canadian team called the Wheat City Whisky Jacks will not be able to play its 2020 home schedule in Brandon (Manitoba), so the team will play the 2020 home season at a yet-to-be-determined location in North Dakota.

BASKETBALL

Women's American Basketball Association: As the WABA prepares for the 2020 season, it announced the addition of expansion teams called the Jacksonville Force, Scottsdale (AZ) Sirens and Pottstown (PA) Power. The Long Island (NY) Storm, which sat out the 2019 season, plans to return in 2020.

BIG3 League: The 12-team BIG3 professional 3-on-3 touring basketball league announced the cancellation of the entire 2020 season due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and it will concentrate on a return in 2021. The league's fourth season was supposed to start play on June 20. The BIG3 will continue to work on launching a pre-season 3-on-3 tournament reality show prior to the 2021 season.

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a team called the Reno Rogues has been added as an expansion team for the 2020-21 season. The owner of the league's new Idaho Outlaws team will be a co-owner of the Rogues.

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: Mexico's top professional league called the LNBP confirmed plans to hold a 2020 season that will tentatively start on September 10 and expected to end by December 6. The league currently has 13 teams set to play, but the final number of participating teams will be decided before June 30.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: The CFL stated the earliest the league might return for a shortened season would be in September and no games will be played this summer due to unavailability of stadiums. There is also a possibility the entire 2020 season could be cancelled, but it is still too soon to make a call.

National Arena League: The seven-team NAL announced it is still committed to playing a 2020 season, which was originally supposed to start on April 4 and postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At this time, arena accessibility will not be possible until July.

United Arena League: The proposed new UAL announced it has cancelled its inaugural 2020 season due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but it will return in 2021. The UAL had planned to start play in late March with teams called the Atlanta Furious (travel-only), Georgia-Lina Lions (Grovetown, GA in Augusta area) and the Peach State Cats (Cumming, GA).

XFL: The XFL's creditors say owner Vince McMahon is trying to purchase his pro football league out of bankruptcy court. The XFL reportedly contacted two of its more successful teams, the Seattle Dragons and St. Louis BattleHawks, about reinstating lease agreements. The league had eight teams and if it did return, it could move struggling franchises to Oakland and San Diego, which recently lost National Football League teams.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The Las Vegas suburban city of Henderson (NV) this week approved construction of a new 6,000-seat area that will become home to the AHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights recently purchased the AHL's San Antonio Rampage franchise, which will be relocated and start play next season at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas until the new arena is ready for the 2022-23 season. A new name for the team will be announced in the near future with Silver Knights and Desert Knights considered to be the top nickname choices.

ECHL: The group trying to bring an ECHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens to the city of Trois-Rivieres (Quebec) held a meeting this week with city officials in an effort to have the ECHL team play in the city's new arena for the 2021-22 season. The arena is expected to be operational by December 2020. The mayor of Trois-Rivieres has been trying to obtain a major-junior team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, while city officials are more interested in having an ECHL team that would share the arena with the local collegiate Patriots hockey team from the University of Quebec – Trois-Rivieres.

Professional Women's Hockey Players Association: After operating a barnstorming tour-based schedule of events in the 2019-20 season, the PWHPA will operate five regional training hubs in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, New Hampshire and Minnesota during the 2020-21 season. Each hub will play more regional games, but each hub will also carry a roster of 25 active players that will be eligible to attend showcases.

National Women's Hockey League: The NWHL's Toronto-based expansion team announced it will be called the Toronto Six when it starts play for the 2020-21 season. The Toronto Six will be the league's sixth team.

National Hockey League: The NHL Players' Association approved the concept of a proposed 24-team playoff format to finish the 2019-20 season and award the Stanley Cup. The plan is for teams to be clustered in certain cities in North America with games held in empty arenas. Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Las Vegas, St. Paul (MN) and Columbus (OH) have been mentioned as potential game sites. The playoffs would have 12 Eastern Conference teams and 12 Western Conference teams.

SOCCER

Canadian Premier League: The commissioner of the eight-team men's professional CPL stated it is looking into starting league play at a single-site. The CPL played its inaugural season in 2019 with seven teams playing a 10-game spring season from late April to early July and an 18-game fall season from early July through October. The league added the Athletico Ottawa club in the off-season and was set to start its 2020 spring season on April 11, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

National Women's Soccer League: The nine-team professional NWSL is reported to be close to finalizing plans for a month-long tournament in Salt Lake City possibly leading to a return to a regular schedule later this year. Games would start on June 27 and be played before few, if any, fans.

OTHER

Interstate Box Lacrosse Association: The IBLA, which is comprised of a Regional Box Lacrosse League (RBLL) in different regions or states across the United States, is still registering players for its RBLLs and hopes to have teams start play as planned in late June or July. The IBLA currently lists 13 different RBLLs, up from 9 RBLLs in the 2019 season. Each RBLL champion is represented in a year-end national championship that will be held in Boston this year and hosted by the New England RBLL.

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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