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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 3, 2020 - Atlantic League (AtL)

BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League officially announced a 2021 expansion team will be added in Gastonia (NC) where a new ballpark is under construction. The city has been home to the Gastonia Grizzlies of the summer-collegiate Coastal Plain League since 2002 and was home to the Gastonia Rangers of the low Class-A South Atlantic League through the 1992 season. The Atlantic League is seeking applications for two to four new teams. This would include teams in its geographic area that could be affected by Major League Baseball's planned restructuring of Minor League Baseball.

Empire Pro Baseball League: Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the independent EPBL has made adjustments to its 2020 season that will include an Empire Pro Baseball Showcase in Florida next month with a modified season happening in September. These will be used to prepare players for international winter leagues that start play in October and November.

Frontier League: The Frontier League's Florence (KY) Y'alls, formerly the Florence Freedom, and the Lexington (KY) Legends of the affiliated low Class-A South Atlantic League started a four-team 38-game series of games called The Battle of the Bourbon Trail that will run through September 13. A second Florence team will be called the Freedom, while a second Lexington team will be called the Las Layendas.

International League: The Indianapolis Indians of the Triple-A International League have launched a committee to get community feedback about the appropriateness of the team's nickname.

Liberation Professional Baseball League: The home of the summer-collegiate Dubois County Bombers' League Stadium in Huntingburg (IN) will be home to the proposed new Liberation League, which will consist of affiliated and independent baseball players. Competition will start on August 7 with four teams called the Baseball Resume Bandits, Indiana Barn Owls, Indy Windstorm and the California Dogecoin, which is a Fairfield-based team from the independent Pacific Association that is not playing this season.

Liga Mexicana del Pacífico: To reduce travel costs for the upcoming season, the Monterrey Sultanes of Mexico's ten-team fall-winter LMP, or Mexican Pacific League, announced the team will play 2020-21 home games in Mazatlan, which is home to the league's Mazatlan Venados.

Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: The four-team California-based Pacific Association announced the cancellation of the entire 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Pacific Coast League: Due to ongoing restrictions from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Nashville Sounds of the Triple-A PCL have cancelled plans to host the 2020 Alternate Season at First Horizon Park. This competition was to feature 70 unsigned free agents forming two teams and serve as an emergency system for Major League Baseball during its shortened 2020 season.

BASKETBALL

Florida Basketball Association: The semi-pro FBA announced the cancellation of its 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The FBA, which traditionally operates a spring-summer season, tried to organize a single-location 2020 season for this summer. The FBA had eight teams last season and announced two new 2020 teams called the Gainesville Mighty Oaks and the Brevard Bobcats (Melbourne).

National Basketball Association: The 30-team NBA restarted its 2019-20 season this week with 22 teams, 9 from the Eastern Conference and 13 from the Western Conference, playing games before no fans at Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando.

National Basketball Association G-League: The NBA's Phoenix Suns decided to sell its Northern Arizona Suns NBA G-League team, formerly located in Prescott Valley, to the NBA's Detroit Pistons. The Pistons will move the team to a new arena under construction at Wayne State University in the Detroit area for the 2021-22 season. The Pistons have had a hybrid affiliation with the G-League's Grand Rapids Drive, which joined the league after the purchase and relocation of the Springfield (MA) Armor for the 2014-15 season. The Pistons run the Drive's basketball operations but do not own the team. The Pistons and Drive will continue their affiliation for the 2020-21 season, while the Drive owner seeks a possible new affiliation beyond next season. The Northern Arizona Suns will play at a yet-to-be-determined location in the Phoenix area for the 2020-21 season.

FOOTBALL

Indoor Football League: The IFL's new Columbus (OH) expansion team announced it will be called the Columbus Wild Dogs when it starts play in the 2022 season. An ownership group purchased the equipment and assets of the Baltimore Brigade, which was a member of the Arena Football League until that league folded this past fall, and will use that to establish a new team in San Antonio reported to be part of the IFL.

National Arena League: The ownership of the NAL's Orlando Predators is trying to establish a new NAL team in Albany (NY). The city had the Albany Empire team for the past two seasons (2018-19) in the Arena Football League (AFL), but the AFL ceased operations this past fall. The NAL also announced a team called the Baltimore Lightning, which is owned by the group that recently purchased the assets of the AFL's Baltimore Brigade for a move to San Antonio, will be added as a 2021 expansion team.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The 31-team AHL, which has each team affiliated with a National Hockey League team and normally starts its regular season in October, announced it will delay the start of the 2020-21 season until December 4, 2020 due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Southern Professional Hockey League: The ten-team lower-level minor professional SPHL, which normally starts its regular season in October, announced this week it is targeting sometime in December for the start of the 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

National Women's Hockey League: The six-team NWHL, which usually starts play in October, announced its next season will not start until January 2021 due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID) pandemic. Each team will play a 20-game schedule to be completed by the end of March.

SOCCER

Canadian Premier League: The eight-team professional CPL announced it will hold a shortened 2020 season called "The Island Games" in Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) starting on August 13 and games will be played without fans. Prince Edward Island has had relatively few cases and no deaths from the coronavirus (COVID-19). Langford (British Columbia) and Moncton (New Brunswick) were the other locations considered as finalists to host the season. The CPL played with seven teams in its inaugural 2019 season, which was split into separate spring and fall seasons. The league added the Atletico Ottawa club for 2020, but the CPL was unable to start play in April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Liga MX: Mexico's top professional 18-team Liga MX started the opening portion (Apertura) of its two-part 2020-21 season, which is being called the "2020 Guardianes" as a tribute to healthcare workers. One team change was the relocation of the Morelia Monarcas to Mazatlan (Sinaloa) as the Mazatlan FC.

Ascenso MX: After its two-part (Clausura/Apertura) 2019-20 season, the Ascenso MX ceased to exist as the relegation-promotion league for Mexico's top professional Liga MX. The league has been replaced by the Liga de Expansión MX, also called the Liga de Desarrallo (Development League), that will start play this summer in a two-part (Apertura/Clausura) 2020-21 season. The new league will include all 12 teams from last season's Ascenso MX with a few team relocations, and five additional teams. There will be no relegation or promotion between the new league and the Liga MX for the next six years as the Mexican Football Federation tries to stabilize a second-tier league.

Premier Ligue de Soccer du Quebec: Canada's semi-pro Division-III PLSQ, or Quebec Premiere Soccer League, recently started play in a 2020 season that was shortened due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The six-team men's division will have each team playing ten games, while a four-team women's division will have each team playing six games. The PLSQ has been around since 2012.

League1 Ontario: Canada's semi-pro Division-III League1 Ontario soccer league cancelled its 2020 summer seasons for both the 17-team Men's Division and the 13-team Women's Division due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The League1 Ontario first started play in the 2014 season. League1 Ontario serves as a provincial developmental league for the men's professional Canadian Premier League.

OTHER

American Ultimate Disc League: The 22-team professional AUDL cancelled its entire 2020 season, which was to have run from early April to mid-July, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This would have been the league's ninth season. Before cancelling, the AUDL had considered various alternative plans for a 2020 season, including a shortened season at a single location.

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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