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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 22, 2020 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The seven-team independent Atlantic League announced the cancellation of an official 2020 season due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but it will allow teams to host games and other events at their stadiums this summer. The league's Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Waldorf), High Point (NC) Rockers and Long Island Ducks are working with three teams from other independent leagues to create a six-team league for 2020. Last week, the Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters announced plans to create a local four-team league based out of the team's stadium with other teams comprised of players from various leagues. The Atlantic League's Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers, York (PA) Revolution and Somerset (NJ) Patriots plan to hold other events at their stadium and could host some baseball games. Lancaster and York are in talks to play each other in a rivalry series of games.

American Association: Since 6 of the independent American Association's 12 teams will not be playing a 2020 season, the league announced a dispersal draft for players from the Cleburne (TX) Railroaders, Sioux City (IA) Explorers, Gary (IN) Southshore RailCats, Kansas City (KS) T-Bones, Lincoln (NE) Saltdogs and Texas AirHogs (Grand Prairie). Players selected by the league's other six teams will need to sign contracts for this season and they will return to their original teams after the 2020 season.

Frontier League: The 14-team independent Frontier League will announce next week its decision as to whether or not there will be a 2020 season. The league's two Canadian Quebec-based teams, the Quebec Les Capitals (Quebec City) and the Trois-Rivieres Aigles, will not be part of a league schedule due to travel restrictions. The Quebec and Trois-Rivieres teams are reported to be considering a four-team league with two teams in each city and teams comprised of only Canadian players. Quebec and Trois-Rivieres are two of five former Can-Am League teams that joined the Frontier League in the off-season.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League recently announced the ballpark for its Wasco (CA) Reserve team would not be available if a planned Pacific Division of teams plays later this year.

Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League announced a new regional Michigan-based pod of six teams for the 2020 season. The league's Traverse City Pit Spitters, Kalamazoo Growlers and Battle Creek Bombers will be joined by two new additional Traverse City teams called the Great Lakes Resorters and the Northern Michigan Dune Bears, and a second Kalamazoo team called the Kalamazoo Mac Daddies. The 2020 schedule for the Michigan games will start on July 1.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced the Las Vegas Horsemen will be an expansion team for the 2020-21 season. The ABA had teams called the Las Vegas Royals and the Las Vegas Pharaohs participate in the 2019-20 season.

Maximum Basketball League: The semi-pro MBL will have 40-plus teams in a 2020 season starting in October and announced a "Maximum Madness" showcase will be held in Dallas from July 17 to 19, 2020.

Canadian Elite Basketball League: The seven-team CEBL, whose second season was to run from early May to early August 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, announced it is now working on a multi-week tournament format for the 2020 season rather than any other contingency plans. All teams would play games at a single location with Meridian Center in St. Catharines (Ontario) said to be under consideration for games to be played the second half of July and in the month of August.

The Basketball League: The TBL announced its new Indiana-based expansion team will be called the Anderson Aces when it starts play in the 2021 season. This is the third expansion team for the 2021 season and grows the league to 15 teams. The Aces will be part of a new Midwest Division with the Indy Express (Indianapolis), Dayton Flight, Owensboro (KY) Thoroughbreds and Columbus (OH) Condors.

Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): Mexico's nine-team semi-pro CIBACOPA, or Pacific Coast Basketball League, which had only played about one week of its 2020 season before suspending play on March 18 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, announced the cancellation of the entire 2020 season and it will begin planning for 2021.

Women's National Basketball Association: The 12-team professional WNBA, which postponed the start of its 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is finalizing plans for each team to play a 22-game schedule with no fans at the IMG Academy in Bradenton (FL). This 2020 season would start next month and be followed by traditional playoffs.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: The CFL commissioner wants the CFL Players Association to meet with league officials about a collective bargaining agreement to try to save the 2020 season. As of now, the earliest start for the season would be in September and cancelling the entire 2020 season is an option.

American Arena League: The AAL was only able to play one game in its 2020 season before postponing the season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The AAL has received commitments from owners in the six-team Texas Alliance Indoor League (TAIL) for that league to serve as an AAL West Division in the 2021 season. The TAIL announced a schedule for its inaugural 2020 season to run from late April to mid-July, but it has been cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The AAL is also trying to start a lower-level league in 2021 called the AAL 2 with several markets in Louisiana under consideration.

HOCKEY

Federal Prospects Hockey League: The minor professional FPHL held a dispersal draft for the players of the Battle Creek (MI) Rumble Bees team, which lasted only one season in the league. The FPHL's other nine teams participated in the dispersal draft.

Western Hockey League: The commissioner of the major-junior WHL stated its 22 teams will need to be able to play before fans for it to survive and has set a minimum capacity of 50 percent in order for teams to resume operations for the 2020-21 season. The WHL wants to start play in early October, but it could get its schedule of 68 games per team completed if the start had to be pushed back to early December.

North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced the addition of the El Paso Rhinos team for the 2021-22 season. The Rhinos will place a team in the NAHL's affiliated Tier-III North American 3 Hockey League starting with the 2020-21 season and this team will eventually act as a feeder for the NAHL team. The El Paso Rhinos played the past 14 seasons (2006-20) in the junior-level Western States Hockey League, which lost ten teams since the end of the 2019-20 season and recently announced it will go dormant for the 2020-21 season.

Prairie Junior Hockey League: The Southern Rebels (Assiniboia, Saskatchewan) of Canada's Junior-B PJHL announced the team has been granted a one-year leave of absence for the 2020-21 season due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

SOCCER

USL Championship (United Soccer League): The men's Division-II USL Championship league and the USL Players Association have reached a formal agreement on a return-to-play plan for the 2020 season with July 11 targeted for a restart. More details are to follow, but it is expected that games will be played at home fields with no fans at the start of the season.

Women's Premier Soccer League: Although the WPSL cancelled its 2020 season, it recently announced the Norman-based Oklahoma Celtic will start play next season as a 2021 expansion team. The league has two other Oklahoma-based teams called the Oklahoma City FC and the Tulsa Soccer Club.

OTHER

World TeamTennis: The nine-team WTT announced the schedule for its 2020 season, which will include a 63-match regular season from July 12 through July 30 followed by two days of playoffs on August 1 and August 2. All matches will be played at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs (WV). A total of 500 fans will be allowed to attend matches at the facility's 2,500-seat outdoor stadium.

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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