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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 6, 2020 - Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: Once the Atlantic League cancelled its 2020 season, the league's High Point (NC) Rockers, Long Island Ducks and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Waldorf) announced they would play some sort of 2020 schedule, but this week announced they will not be playing after all. The league's Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters are still planning its four-team Constellation Energy League with all games played at the Skeeters' home field, but it will now start on July 10. The Sugar Land Skeeters will be joined by three new teams called the Sugar Land Lightning Sloths, Eastern Reyes del Tigre and Team Texas.

Frontier League: After the Frontier League cancelled its 2020 season, the league's Joliet (IL) Slammers announced plans to hold a 27-game tournament at its home field featuring the Slammers and three other teams made up of players from independent and affiliated teams. The tournament will run from July 16 to September 2, 2020. The league's Florence (KY) Y'alls, formerly the Florence Freedom, and the Lexington (KY) Legends of the affiliated low Class-A South Atlantic League will be part of a four-team 38-game competition called The Battle of the Bourbon Trail from July 31 to September 13. A second Florence team will be called the Freedom, while a second Lexington team will be called the Las Layendas. The league's Washington (PA) Wild Things are planning to play games at its home field starting July 9 involving three other teams called the Baseball Brilliance Sox, Road Warriors and Steel City Slammin' Sammies.

Northwoods League: The Kenosha (WI) Kingfish of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League will hold a 26-game Kenosha Series at its home field with the new K-Town Bobbers team, which will have players from the league's non-playing Madison Mallards. Games will run from July 15 to August 22, 2020. The league's Northern Michigan pod has been put on hold after players on the Traverse City Pit Spitters and the two other teams based in the city tested positive for COVID-19. The Northern Michigan pod plans to restart the 2020 season on July 10.

Minor League Baseball: Major League Baseball announced it will not be providing players to affiliated teams under Minor League Baseball (MiLB) this season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Therefore, there will be no 2020 season for the 160-team MiLB, which includes the Triple-A (30 teams in 2 leagues), Double-A (30 teams in 3 leagues), high Class-A (30 teams in 3 leagues), low Class-A (30 teams in 2 leagues), short-season Class-A (22 teams in 2 leagues) and advanced Rookie (18 teams in 2 leagues) classifications.

Major League Baseball: After the National Football League's Washington Redskins announced they would consider a name change, MLB's Cleveland Indians announced the team has had discussions about changing its nickname that is considered racially inappropriate for Native Americans.

United Shore Professional Baseball League: The four-team independent developmental USPBL, which plays all games out of its stadium in Utica (MI), started play this weekend with a couple of games that were limited to 100 fans. The USPBL includes teams called the Utica Unicorns, Westside Woolly Mammoths, Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers and Eastside Diamond Hoppers.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association: With the NBA restarting play in Orlando with 22 of its 30 teams, the league is reported to be considering some scrimmages and possible tournament-style play in Chicago later this year for the remaining 8 teams.

Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional: Mexico's top professional basketball league knowns as the LNBP announced the start of its 2020-21 season will be in September with 12 teams aligned in a six-team Zona Este (East Division) and a six-team Zona Oeste (West Division). The LNBP operated with 17 teams last season, but four teams called the Angeles de Puebla, C.B. Santos de San Luis Potosi, Huracanes de Tampico and Laguneros de Torreon will sit out, while the Capitanes de la CDMX (Mexico City) will move to the National Basketball Association G-League as a 2020-21 expansion team.

Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA announced a Brooklyn-based team called the New York Stallions will join the league for the 2021 season.

Minor League Challenge: Although the Central Basketball Association (CBA) did not return for the 2020 season, the owner of the former league's Fort Wayne Flite has organized the six-team MLC to provide exposure for aspiring pro basketball players with a three-day tournament planned for July 15 to 17, 2020 at one location in Fort Wayne. Teams will include four former CBA teams called the Fort Wayne Flite, Bowling Green (KY) Hornets, Middle Tennessee Storm (Nashville) and Memphis Rail Runners, along with the Gateway Steam (St. Louis) and Chicago Blues that were part of the former Midwest Professional Basketball Association, which played two winter seasons (2015 and 2016) and disappeared after planning to switch to a 2017 summer season. The top MLC players will be chosen to participate in a combine hosted by the Unified Basketball Alliance (UBA), which is a new league trying to get off the ground in September 2020. The UBA currently lists three teams called the New York Strong, Harlem Blue Notes and Connecticut Blaze, but has plans for future expansion to the Midwest and other regions.

Professional Collegiate League: The Historical Basketball League, which was announced last year as a professional, collegiate club-sports league affiliated with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, has changed to the Professional Collegiate League (PCL). The PCL will employ college athletes to play a full summer season of basketball and those athletes will also be enrolled as full-time students. The PCL will own all teams under a single-entity ownership model and it plans to start in June 2021 with eight teams in Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Raleigh, Richmond and Washington (DC).

FOOTBALL

National Football League: Federal officials and some in Washington (DC) announced there would be no approval of a new stadium for the league's Washington Redskins at the site of RFK Stadium unless the team changes it racially inappropriate nickname for Native Americans. After some additional pressure from team sponsors, the Redskins announced it will now undergo a thorough review of the team's name. The "Warriors" nickname is considered a top choice, since the Redskins' owner trademarked that name in 2007 for a proposed Arena Football League team that never got off the ground.

Canadian Football League: There are now posts on social media telling the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos to change its name, which some consider consider racist and an insult to the Inuit people.

HOCKEY

Federal Prospects Hockey League: The lower minor-league FPHL operated with ten teams in the 2019-20 season, but after the Battle Creek (MI) Rumble Bees team recently folded and a previously announced expansion team for Bloomington (IL) moved its start back to the 2021-22 season, the league was reported to be exploring locations in Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania for a tenth team. More recently, the league is reported to be attempting a new team in Fraser (MI) near Detroit for the 2020-21 season.

National Hockey League: As the NHL plans to restart its 2019-20 season this summer with 24 of its 31 teams, the league is reported to be considering Toronto and Edmonton as host cities with the 12 Eastern Conference teams playing in Toronto and the 12 Western Conference teams playing in Edmonton.

Heritage Junior Hockey League: Canada's Alberta-based Junior-B level HJHL will be losing at least two teams called the Medicine Hat Cubs and the High River Flyers for the 2020-21 season due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The league operated with 14 teams in the 2019-20 season.

SOCCER

National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA announced it will host an Independent Cup competition this summer with 15 independent professional and amateur clubs. The teams will be aligned in four regions: a three-team Great Lakes region and four-team Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Central Plains regions. Teams will compete within their regions starting July 11 with four regional winners moving to the 2020 Cup final. Four current NISA teams called the Detroit City FC, New York Cosmos, New Amsterdam FC (Bronx) and Chattanooga FC will be part of the competition.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The 12-team men's Division-III professional USL League One, which delayed the start of its 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, announced all teams will be aligned in one table and will each play a 20-game schedule from July 18 to October 24 with the top two teams moving to a championship game. The USL League One played its inaugural season in 2019 with ten teams, but the Lansing Ignite FC did not return and the league added three new teams called the Union Omaha (Nebraska), New England Revolution II and Fort Lauderdale CF.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The six-team field lacrosse MLL announced its 2020 season will be played in Annapolis (MD) over one week starting July 18 and ending with a final-four playoffs on July 25 and 26. For its 20th season, the MLL had announced a ten-game schedule for each team from May 30 to August 15, but that never started due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The MLL had six teams last season, but switched to a single-entity ownership model and announced it would not operate the Atlanta Blaze and Dallas Rattlers teams in 2020. Two new teams called the Connecticut Hammerheads, based in Fairfield just southwest of Bridgeport (CT), and the Philadelphia Barrage were added for 2020 with Connecticut inheriting the roster of the Atlanta team and Philadelphia inheriting the roster of the Dallas team. The four other 2020 teams include the Boston Cannons, Chesapeake Bayhawks (Annapolis, MD), Denver Outlaws and the New York Lizards.

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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