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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
June 29, 2020 - Indoor Football League (IFL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: The 14-team independent Frontier League announced the cancellation of its entire 2020 season due to travel restrictions and limitations on social gatherings from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Teams will be allowed to pursue baseball and other activities for their home stadiums as the league prepares for 2021. The league's two Canadian Quebec-based teams, the Quebec Les Capitals (Quebec City) and the Trois-Rivieres Aigles, are trying to organize a Quebec-based competition, while the league's New York Boulders (Pomona) are trying to organize four to eight teams for a summer-collegiate league at its home field. The league's Joliet (IL) Slammers will host a four-team City of Champions Cup at its home field this summer and will create three additional teams comprised of Frontier League players.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League is playing some pre-season games prior to a 2020 season that will start on July 2 and run through August with all games played at Coastal Park in Houston. The 2020 schedule is down from five to four teams-the Trinidad Triggers, Roswell Aliens, Salina Stockade and Tucson Saguaros-with the Santa Fe Fuego gone from the schedule. A four-team Pacific Division is also listed as the league is trying to have those teams to play somewhere in California this fall.

Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League announced a new six-team regional pod of teams based in Minnesota and Iowa will play a short schedule of games from July1 to August 20. Teams include the Waterloo (IA) Bucks and the Minnesota-based Willmar Stingers, Mankato MoonDogs, Rochester Honkers and St. Cloud Rox.

Major League Baseball: The MLB announced it will begin a 60-game season for each of its 30 teams starting on July 23 or 24. The 162-game 2020 MLB season was scheduled to start in late March, but never did because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Futures Collegiate Baseball League: The summer-collegiate FCBL announced six of its seven teams will each play a short 2020 season of 18 to 21 games this summer. Teams will include the New Britain (CT) Bees, Nashua (NH) Silver Knights, and the Massachusetts-based Brockton Rox, North Shore Navigators (Lynn), Westfield Starfires and Worcester Bravehearts. The Pittsfield (MA) Suns will sit out this season.

Coastal Plain League: The summer-collegiate CPL announced four of its teams in North Carolina and Virginia called the High Point-Thomasville (NC) HiToms, Martinsville (VA) Mustangs, Peninsula (VA) Pilots and Wilson Tobs (NC) will form a Mid-Atlantic Division for 2020. The CPL previously announced a three-team group of teams will play in a Southern Summer Ball Series, while several other teams decided not to play this season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association: The 30-team NBA announced the restart of the 2019-20 season will be on July 30 with 22 teams playing games before no fans at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando.

National Basketball League of Canada: The eight-team NBL-Canada, which cancelled the last third of its 2019-20 season in April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is planning a return in late December 2020 for a 2020-21 season featuring all eight returning teams The league depends on gate receipts to survive, so the season might not happen if the league is not allowed to play in front of fans. Canadian Elite Basketball League: The seven-team CEBL, whose second season was to have all teams play a 20-game schedule from early May to early August 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, announced the 2020 season will be replaced by a Summer Series with a total of 26 games played at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines (Ontario), home of the league's Niagara River Lions. The Summer Series will run from July 25 to August 9, 2020.

The Basketball League: The TBL stated it will add a 16th team to its 2021 lineup in the near future. The league plans to have teams aligned in four regional divisions (West, Midwest, South and East) for 2021.

Evolution Basketball Association: The new minor-league EBA is organizing for a start in September 2021. The league will have at least 5 regional divisions across the United States and announced 11 member teams last month.

FOOTBALL

Extreme Football League (X-League): The women's indoor 7-on-7 full-tackle football league called the X League, which evolved from the Legends Football League and prior to that the Lingerie Football League, announced last month it will not play its inaugural season in 2020. The original April start to the 2020 season was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and then plans were announced for each of the eight teams to play only two regular-season games from June 20 through August 15. With the 2020 season cancellation the X League is now planning for a start in April 2021.

Indoor Football League: The start of the IFL's new Columbus (OH) expansion team, which was planning to start play in the 2021 season, has been pushed back to a 2022 start. The ownership wants to concentrate on the development of its other IFL team called the Frisco (TX) Fighters, which was supposed to start its first season of play in 2020 until the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Columbus ownership still plans on announcing the team's name this summer.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The 26-team minor professional ECHL, which cancelled the remainder of the 2019-20 season in mid-March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, held its annual Board of Governors meeting as it plans for the 2020-21 season. All 26 teams are expected to return and each team recently submitted a protected players list for next season.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: After postponing the start of its 2020 regular-season, which was supposed to start on April 18, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the professional NWSL began play this weekend in a month-long Challenge Cup tournament with all games played at one location in the Salt Lake City area. Only eight of the league's nine teams will be participating after the Orlando Pride announced it would withdraw its participation due to positive coronavirus tests among players and staff. Of the remaining eight teams, the only off-season change was the Tacoma-based Seattle Reign FC coming under the ownership of the OL Groupe, which owns the French Olympique Lyonnais men's and women's soccer club, and is now listed as the OL Reign.

USL Championship (United Soccer League): The men's Division-II USL Championship league announced the group alignments for the restart of league play that will feature 35 teams each playing a 16-game schedule over 13 weeks starting July 11. In order to minimize travel, the league was aligned into regional groups with the 17-team Eastern Conference having three groups (E, G and H) of four teams and one group (F) of five teams, while the 18-team Western Conference will have two groups (A and D) of four teams and two groups (B and C) of five teams.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The 12-team men's Division-III professional USL League One confirmed it will start its 2020 season on July 18. The season has been delayed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is uncertain how state and local restrictions on the size of gatherings will affect the ability of some teams to play in front of fans or even host games, but details on the season will follow.

United Women's Soccer: The pro-am UWS previously announced the cancellation of its full 2020 season and now has decided to cancel a proposed National Cup tournament scheduled from July 9 to July 17, 2020 in Round Rock (TX) due to a rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the area just outside of Austin. The league has still sanctioned some friendlies and regional tournaments next month. The league's new lower-level UWS-2 has its four-team Florida-based Southeast Division playing a full 2020 season.

OTHER

National Pro Fastpitch: Since the women's NPF cancelled its 2020 season, two of the league's top teams called the USSSA Pride (Viera, FL) and the Scrap Yard Dawgs (Conroe, TX/Houston area) have been playing independent schedules and started a seven-game series against each other this week in Viera. After the first game on Monday, players on the Scrap Yard Dawgs decided to leave the team after players felt they were being used as pawns in a political post by the team's general manager that indicated the team was making an anti-kneeling political statement because none of the players knelt during the national anthem. The players have since reorganized to restart play this weekend as a new team called "This Is Us".

Major League Lacrosse: After the 2020 MLL player draft last month, the commissioner of the six-team single-entity outdoor MLL stated the league would be announcing some sort of summer schedule to replace its normal summertime season, which has not been able to start due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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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