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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 20, 2020 - ECHL (ECHL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: Although the independent Frontier League is not holding an official 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, six teams comprised of some Frontier League players and other minor and collegiate players will each play a 32-game schedule as part of the All-American Baseball Challenge at the ballparks of three Frontier League teams. Teams called the Rockland Boulders and New York Brave will play games at the home of the league's New York Boulders in Pomona; teams called the New Jersey Jackals and Jersey Wise Guys will play games at the home of the league's New Jersey Jackals in Little Falls; and teams called the Sussex County Miners and Skylands Cardinals will play games at the home of the Sussex County Miners in Augusta (NJ). The games will be played from July 23 to September 13, 2020. The league's Trois-Rivieres Aigles and Quebec Capitales have cancelled plans to play a series of games this summer.

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico: Mexico's fall-season ten-team LMP, or Mexican Pacific League, plans to play its 2020 regular-season from mid-October through December, possibly without fans.

Major League Baseball: The Canadian government will not allow the MLB's Toronto Blue Jays to host 2020 home games at Rogers Centre in Toronto, so the team is considering moving home games to Buffalo, about 100 miles south, or to its spring training complex in Dunedin (FL). Although questions have been raised about the Atlanta Braves' nickname being offensive to the Native American community, the team stated it will not change its nickname, but will review the tomahawk chop used as an in-game celebration.

West Coast League: The new 2021 summer-collegiate WCL team to be based in Nanaimo (British Columbia) announced it will be called the Nanaimo NightOwls.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League started play early this month in its shortened 2020 season with a four-team Central Division of teams called the Roswell Aliens, Tucson Saguaros, Salina Stockade and the Houston Apollos, which replaced the previously listed Trinidad Triggers. All games are to be played at a complex in the Houston area through August.

Prospect League: The new 2021 Alton (IL) expansion team in the summer-collegiate Prospect League announced a name-the-team contest with the new name to be announced next month.

Western Canadian Baseball League: The Edmonton Prospects of the summer-collegiate WCBL recently announced plans for a new ballpark to be built for the team in suburban Spruce Grove and it should be ready for the 2022 season. The city of Edmonton had awarded the lease of the Prospects' RE/MAX Field to another group that wanted to operate a second WCBL team at that ballpark along with the Prospects. The Prospects control the Edmonton market, so no other WCBL team can be based out of RE/MAX Field.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a back-up plan for its upcoming 2020-21 season that is supposed to start on November 7. Teams will be allowed to stagger the start of their 20-game season schedules to early November, December, January or February leading to the Final Eight tournament in mid-April. The league announced a Sports Realty Group that will build ABA-specific 2,500-seat venues in four cities, the first of which will be in Pittsburgh for the Steel City Yellow Jackets.

Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA announced plans for its shortened 2020 season that will feature each of the 12 teams playing a 22-game schedule with all games played without fans at the IMG Academy in Bradenton (FL) from July 25 to September 12.

Great Lakes Basketball League: The eight-team semi-pro GLBL was unable to start its proposed inaugural 2020 season in June due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), but plans to return with a start in June 2021. Current teams include the Michigan-based Benton Harbor Battlegrounds, Kalamazoo County Elites, Kalamazoo Shooters, Mid-Michigan Spartans, Southwest Michigan Stampede, West Michigan Red Raiders, and the Indiana-based South Bend Los Lobos and Elkhart Mavericks.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: Although the team will not confirm it, the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos are reported to be considering a name change for the team. One possible name is the Edmonton Empire, which was registered for a trademark by the organization back in 2018.

National Arena League: The NAL announced it has not offered a new membership to the Worcester-based Massachusetts Pirates franchise for the 2021 season because the team has not followed league guidelines. The Pirates joined the NAL for the 2018 season. Pirates' officials stated the team honored its three-year commitment to the NAL and did not want to enter into another agreement with the league at this time. It appears the Pirates are looking for a different league to be part of for the 2021 season.

National Football League: The NFL's Washington Redskins announced the team is working on a new nickname that will be announced in the next few weeks. The team started play as the Boston Braves in 1932, changed to the Redskins the next year and moved to Washington (DC) for the 1937 season.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The owner of the ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers (St. John's) has reached a tentative agreement with the city of Trois-Rivieres (Quebec) to bring an ECHL expansion team to the city's new 4,500-seat arena for the 2021-22 season. Once a lease agreement has been signed, an application for an expansion franchise will be submitted and then voted on by the league. The new Trois-Rivieres team is expected to become an affiliate of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens. During recent arena lease negotiations in St. John's, there was speculation the Growlers would be moved to Trois-Rivieres, but the Growlers' owner stated that team will remain in St. John's.

3ICE: The proposed eight-team three-on-three touring ice hockey league known as 3ICE plans to have nine tour stops in nine cities starting the summer of 2021.

National Roller Hockey League: The professional NRHL, which was trying to restart play in May 2020 with four teams called the Detroit Dragons, Port Huron Yetis, Grand Rapids Warthogs and St Louis Vipers, was unable to start play due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The league is planning for a return in May 2021.

SOCCER

United Women's Soccer: The pro-am UWS announced an expansion team called Kongo SC, based in Salt Lake City, will be added to the West Conference for the 2021 season. Some of the league's Midwest Conference teams have been scheduling various games that includes two four-team showcase events. One event this weekend in Kentwood (MI) was hosted by the Midwest United FC and an event next weekend will be hosted by the Detroit City FC. Due to an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Florida, the league's UWS League Two announced the cancellation of its Southeast Conference schedule after only one game was played last month. This was the only League Two conference scheduled to play this season.

Major League Soccer: The 26-team MLS announced expansion plans for teams in Charlotte, St. Louis and Sacramento have been pushed back due to uncertainty from the coronavirus (COVID-19), but the Austin FC expansion team is still on schedule to start in 2021. Charlotte's initial season will now be in 2022, while St. Louis and Sacramento will now start in 2023.

OTHER

World TeamTennis: The nine-team WTT started its 2020 season last weekend with all matches played at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs (WV). Each team will play 14 regular-season matches from July 12 through July 30 followed by two days of playoffs on August 1 and August 2. A total of 500 fans are allowed to attend matches at the facility's 2,500-seat outdoor stadium.

Athletes Unlimited – Softball League: Even before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the organization known as Athletes Unlimited has been planning a new women's professional softball league that will start play in late August 2020 on a six-week season with all teams playing at one location in the Chicago area. There are no team owners and teams are not tied to any one city. Players are not under contract with any one team and they are ranked by points earned by the team and individually. The top four players each week become captains who can draft new teams. A similar concept is being planned for a women's professional volleyball league to start play at one location in 2021.

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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