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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 27, 2020 - Atlantic League (AtL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League's Somerset Patriots started the Somerset Professional Baseball Series last week with two teams - the Somerset Patriots and New Jersey Blasters—playing games at the Patriots' home field in Bridgewater (NJ) through August 22.

Eastern League: In a deal with the team's longtime hot dog vendor, the Reading Fightin Phils of the Double-A Eastern League will play as the Reading Hot Dogs on Sunday home games in the 2021 season.

Major League Baseball: The 30-team MLB started its shortened 2020 season this week. After being shut out of playing home games in Toronto by the Canadian government, the Toronto Blue Jays decided on Pittsburgh as its home over a Triple-A stadium in Buffalo, but the Pennsylvania government shut down that plan. The team then considered splitting home games between Baltimore and Washington (DC) and then only games in Baltimore, but now Buffalo appears to have been selected as the team's 2020 home. Also, the Cleveland Indians are to meet with Native American officials about a possible team name change.

Frontier League: The six-team All-American Baseball Challenge, which is using the ballparks of three Frontier League teams to host minor league games through September 13, started play this week. Teams called the Rockland Boulders and New York Brave will be based at the home of the league's New York Boulders in Pomona; teams called the New Jersey Jackals and Jersey Wise Guys will be based at the home of the league's New Jersey Jackals in Little Falls; and teams called the Sussex County Miners and Skylands Cardinals will be based at the home of the Sussex County Miners in Augusta (NJ).

Lemonade League: The Lemonade League, a collegiate series of games hosted by the Lansing Lugnuts of the low Class-A Midwest League, started play this week with two teams called the Collegiate Lugnuts and the Collegiate Logos. Teams are comprised of regional collegiate players that will play 17 games through August 20.

BASKETBALL

Women's National Basketball Association: The 12-team WNBA started its shortened 2020 season this weekend that features each of the 12 teams playing a 22-game schedule. All games will be played without fans at the IMG Academy in Bradenton (FL) from July 25 to September 12.

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, started a 2020 Summer Series this weekend with teams playing all games 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 with each team playing the other six teams once to determine the playoff seeding for six teams. The CEBL had six teams last season and added the new Ottawa BlackJacks as a 2020 expansion team.

Midwest Powerhouse League: The new 12-MPL started play in its inaugural 2020 season this week with four Chicago-based teams, two Milwaukee-based teams and other teams in Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota.

Maximum Basketball League: The semi-pro MBL, which plans to have 40-plus teams in a 2020 season starting in October, recently held a three-day 16-team "Maximum Madness" tournament in Dallas.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: The CFL's Edmonton Eskimos announced the team will change its name and during the search for a new name the team will be called the EE Football Team or the Edmonton Football Team. The "Enterprise" nickname, which was trademarked back in 2018, is not one of the new names under consideration. If the CFL does play a shortened 2020 season, the league tentatively selected Winnipeg to be the "hub city" for all games depending on approval from public health and safety officials. The season could start in September with each of the nine teams playing a six-game schedule. Calgary and Regina (Saskatchewan) had also submitted bids to host the 2020 season. The Canadian government recently turned down the league's request for about $40 million in financial assistance, which the CFL said will be needed to move forward with a 2020 season.

National Arena League: The NAL announced the addition of teams called the Louisville Xtreme and the Tampa Bay Tornadoes for the 2021 season. Both teams were supposed to be new members of the American Arena League for the 2020 season, but that league's season was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

National Football League: The NFL's Washington Redskins announced the team will be called the Washington Football Team as it heads into the 2020 season, while a decision is made on a new team name.

HOCKEY

National Hockey League: The NHL's Seattle expansion team, which will be the league's 32nd team, announced it will be called the Seattle Kraken when it starts play in the 2021-22 season. A kraken is an ocean-dwelling mythological monster said to terrorize sailors and ships around Scandinavia. The team considered the Metropolitans name, which was Seattle's original pro hockey team that won the Stanley Cup in 1917, but the league apparently did not want to change the name of its Metropolitan Division. The five nickname finalists were placed in an envelope as part of a time capsule to be retrieved in 2062.

Federal Prospects Hockey League: The lower-level minor professional FPHL announced a tenth team to be added for the 2020-21 season will be located in Fraser (MI), just north of Detroit.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL announced an expansion team will be based in Los Angeles starting with the 2022 season. The team announced Angel City FC as a provisional name, but ownership still wants to get feedback from supporters before finalizing the name. Los Angeles last had a professional women's soccer team called the Los Angeles Sol. The Sol played only the 2009 season in the Women's Professional Soccer, a predecessor to the NWSL that folded after its 2011 season.

Major League Soccer: The Charlotte-based MLS expansion team announced it will be called the Charlotte Football Club, or Charlotte FC and CLT FC, when it starts play in the 2022 season. The team was planned for a 2021 start but that was pushed back a year. Charlotte FC will share Bank of America Stadium, which is home to the National Football League's Carolina Panthers. Other nickname finalists were Charlotte Town FC, Charlotte Athletic FC, Charlotte Crown FC and Carolina Gliders FC. Also, the St. Louis-based MLS expansion team for the 2023 season will announce its name on August 13.

National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA started its Independent Cup competition on July 11 with 11 amateur clubs and 4 NISA member teams. The 15 teams are aligned in four regions and will play through August 2. The NISA cancelled its regular 2020 Spring Season this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but plans to play a regionalized 2020 Fall Season with the East starting on August 8, the West starting on September 5, and championships in late October.

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL announced a new third-level league called MASL3 that will serve as a gateway for amateur players looking to develop into professional players in the MASL2 and the MASL. The league will start play in 2021 with teams aligned in the Great Lakes Conference, Heartland Conference and Southwest Conference. Team names will be announced in the coming weeks and months.

OTHER

Major League Lacrosse: The six-team field lacrosse MLL completed its one-week 2020 season that had all games played in Annapolis (MD). Each team played one game against the other five teams with four teams going to the semi-finals. One semi-final match between the Connecticut Hammerheads and the Chesapeake Bayhawks was cancelled due to concerns over a coronavirus (COVID-19) case, so the other semi-final matchup between the Denver Outlaws and the Boston Cannons became the championship match. Originally, the MLL announced a ten-game schedule for each of its six teams from May 30 to August 15, but that was changed to the one-week season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Premier Lacrosse League: The professional tour-based field lacrosse PLL started play this weekend in its 16-day PLL Championship Series. The series started with each team playing four games in a group play session to reduce the field from seven to four teams for the semifinals and championship game. All games will be played at Zions Bank Stadium in the Salt Lake City area. The PLL held a successful inaugural 2019 season that featured six teams playing multiple week-end tour events. All six teams returned and the league added a new team called the Waterdogs for 2020, but it was forced to cancel the 2020 tour events due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

National Lacrosse League: The 13-team professional indoor, or box lacrosse, NLL announced an expansion team based in Fort Worth (TX) has been granted and it will start play in the 2021-22 season. The team name and logo will be announced later this year. The NLL suspended play in March for its 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with teams having played 10 to 13 games of an 18-game schedule. The league eventually cancelled the remaining games of its 2019-20 regular season along with the post-season playoffs.

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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