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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 13, 2020 - NBA G League (G League)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: With the Atlantic League not playing an official 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league's Somerset Patriots (Bridgewater, NJ) will play a 12-game Summer Professional Baseball Series at its ballpark against a Patriots-operated team to be called the New Jersey Blasters starting on July 17. The Blasters name comes from a proposed late 1990s Bridgewater Blasters team, which was to be operated by the Patriots as part of a short-season independent league and was to play at the Patriots' field when the team was on the road. The successful Somerset Patriots have been mentioned as a possible future team affiliated with Major League Baseball.

Frontier League: With the independent Frontier League cancelling its 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league's Joliet (IL) Slammers have finalized plans to host a 27-game City of Champions Cup starting on July 16 with the Slammers and three other teams called the Chicago Deep Dish, Joliet Tully Monsters and the NERDS® Herd. The league's Washington (PA) Wild Things started hosting its 2020 series of games this week with three other teams called the Baseball Brilliance Sox, Road Warriors and Steel City Slammin' Sammies.

Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: The 16-team LMB, which is Mexico's top professional baseball league and also known as the Mexican Baseball League, announced this week the cancellation of its entire 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The 2020 LMB season was originally scheduled to run from early April to early August with each team playing 102 games, but the start was postponed. Last month, the LMB planned to have teams play a shortened season of 48 games starting August 7.

Major League Baseball: The group trying to bring a relocated or new MLB team to Nashville continues to organize its management and ownership. The proposed MLB team would be called the Nashville Stars.

Midwest League: Although the low Class-A Midwest League is not playing this summer because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league's Lansing (MI) Lugnuts plan to host a 20-game Lemonade League with teams to be called the Lugnuts and Locos and comprised of collegiate players from the region.

Prospect League: Although the summer-collegiate Prospect League cancelled its 2020 season due to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league's O'Fallon (MO) Hoots, formerly the Hannibal (MO) Hoots, have organized the local six-team CarShield Collegiate League that started play on July 1 with a schedule running through August 14. All games will be played at the Hoots' home field (CarShield Field) and will feature teams called the Cornbelters, Eagles, Hoots, Falcons, Gems and Cavemen.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association G-League: The G-League's Prescott Valley-based Northern Arizona Suns team, which is owned and operated by the NBA's Phoenix Suns, will be moving about 90 miles south to the Phoenix metro area for the 2020-21 season to be closer to the Phoenix Suns as a cost-cutting move brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The team first arrived in Prescott Valley for the 2016-17 season after the relocation of the league's Bakersfield Jam.

The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced a fourth expansion team for its 2021 season will be the Fresno Fire. The owner of the Fresno team also operates the Chico (CA) Superkats team in the American Basketball Association. With the addition of Fresno, the TBL now has 16 teams.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: The CFL is reported to have requested over $42 million from the Canadian government to cover operation costs and player salaries for a proposed shortened 2020 season. The league has stated that September would be the earliest a 2020 season would start, but cancelling the entire season is a possibility. If the CFL does restart, it is expected to play all games at a hub city with Winnipeg mentioned as a candidate. The original 2020 season was supposed to start on June 11. The league's Edmonton Eskimos announced it will perform additional research into the possibility of changing the teams name, which is considered racial slur and an insult to the Inuit people. At least one of the team's sponsors has demanded a name change.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: The NHL signed an agreement with the players' union that will allow 24 of the league's 31 teams to restart and complete the 2019-20 season, which was suspended on March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The 12 Eastern Conference teams will start play in Toronto on July 26, while the 12 Western Conference teams will start play in Edmonton on August 1. The NHL's Chicago Blackhawks stated they will continue to use the Blackhawks name and logo because it honors a Native American leader.

Professional Women's Hockey Players Association: The PWHPA, which played a series of showcase games during the 2019-20 season and has since been restructured to include new regional training hubs in Toronto, Montreal, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Calgary, announced the New Hampshire regional training hub will play each team in the men's Northeast-based Tier-II junior-level National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) during the 2020-21 season. The 13-team NCDC is part of the United States Premier Hockey League organization and the PWHPA's New Hampshire training hub will be based out of Cyclones Arena, home of the NCDC's Northern Cyclones team in Hudson (NH).

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League: The Saanich Braves of Canada's Junior-B level VIJHL announced the team will change its name saying it is not respectful to the First Nations.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL's new 2021 expansion team to be based in Louisville (KY) announced Racing Louisville FC as the team's new name, which is a play on the racing industry and the Kentucky Derby. Originally, the team selected the name Proof Louisville FC as a tribute to the state's bourbon industry. The NWSL is reported to be in discussions with a group trying to bring a Los Angeles team to the league possibly under the recently trademarked Angel City FC name.

Major League Soccer: The MLS restarted its 2020 season this week in Orlando with the MLS is Back Tournament. The 26-team league is playing with only 24 teams after the MLS withdrew FC Dallas and Nashville SC from the tournament because of the number of players that tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). With the loss of Dallas and Nashville, the league has realigned its six groups. Previously, Group A was the only six-team group and the other five groups each had four teams. Group A lost the withdrawn Nashville team and Chicago, which moved from Group A to Group B to replace Dallas.

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL decided to officially conclude its 2019-20 season with no additional games and recognized the Monterrey Flash as the Western Conference Regular Season Champion and the Florida Tropics as the Eastern Conference Regular Season Champion. The MASL decided to postpone its 2019-20 regular season on March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with each team still having two or three games left in the season. The league had considered some sort of playoffs at a single location, but decided to end the season and look forward to 2020-21.

USL Championship (United Soccer League): The 35-team Division-II USL Championship restarted its 2020 season, which suspended play in March only one week into its 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Each team will play a 16-game schedule over 13 weeks. In order to minimize travel, the league is aligned into regional groups with the 17-team Eastern Conference having three groups of four teams and one group of five teams, while the 18-team Western Conference has two groups of four teams and two groups of five teams.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The 12-team Division-III USL League One is down to 11 teams for its 2020 season after the Toronto FC II announced it would not be able to participate due to current public health restrictions. The team plans to return in 2021. The league's Forward Madison FC (Wisconsin) will move its ten 2020 home games about 70 miles east of Madison to the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa due to health restrictions in Madison's Dane County.

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The pre-professional USL League Two recently announced the addition of two expansion teams called the Morris Elite FC (Madison, NJ) and the Iowa Raptors FC (Cedar Rapids) for the 2021 season.

OTHER

Major League Rugby: The professional MLR has accepted the initial application from an ownership group trying to bring an expansion team to Kanaloa Hawaii for the 2021 season. The ownership group has 90 days to meet certain league expansion requirements before being formally admitted.

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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