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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 10, 2020 - XFL (XFL)

BASEBALL

Midwest League: As the Beloit (WI) Snappers of the low Class-A Midwest League move into a new stadium for the 2021 season, management is asking fans if the team should adopt a new nickname. The team started play in the 1982 season as the Beloit Brewers and changed to Snappers for the 1995 season.

Frontier League: The Frontier League's Washington (PA) Wild Things have decided to end its four-team independent baseball series on August 23, a few weeks earlier than the original end date of September 13. The problems were with finances and the limitation of 250 people for outdoor gatherings. All games are played at Wild Things Park involving teams called the Wild Things, Baseball Brilliance Sox, Road Warriors and Steel City Slammin' Sammies.

West Coast League: The summer-collegiate WCL is considering a new team for the city of Kamloops (British Columbia), possibly for the 2021 season. The WCL has British Columbia-based teams in Kelowna, about 100 miles southeast of Kamloops, Victoria and recently announced Nanaimo. The other WCL teams are based in Oregon and Washington.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced it will delay the start of the 2020-21 season, originally November 7, 2020, until January 2, 2021 due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The league plans to shorten the season that will end in mid-March. The ABA also announced two new 2020-21 expansion teams called the Coachella Valley Heatwave (California) and Hub City Heat (Lubbock, TX).

Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA announced the cancellation of its 2020 season, which was to start this month, due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Last season, the WABA operated with 16 teams aligned in 3 regions. The league had announced several expansion teams for the 2020 season.

The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL recently increased the number of 2021 expansion teams from four to seven with the addition of new teams called the San Diego Guardians, South Shore Monarchs (Boston) and Atlanta Empire. This grows the league to 19 teams from the 12 teams that participated in a 2020 season cut short by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The TBL played its first season in 2018 as the North American Professional Basketball (NAPB) before changing to the TBL for the 2019 season.

FOOTBALL

XFL: A group of investors purchased the assets of the eight-team XFL out of bankruptcy. The XFL shut down operations midway through its inaugural 2020 spring season due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and eventually filed for bankruptcy. There has been no official commitment to a return of the XFL in 2021 due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus, but games held at a single location might be a possibility if the league does play. The new investors will review the eight team locations and could consider placing teams in markets like San Diego and Oakland, which recently lost National Football League teams. The city of Birmingham (AL) has expressed interest in obtaining an XFL team.

American Arena League: A new team called the San Antonio Gunslingers recently announced it has joined the AAL for the 2021 season. The team originally announced in June it was joining the semi-pro Elite Indoor Football. The San Antonio Gunslingers was the name of an outdoor football team that played the 1984 and 1985 seasons in the former springtime United States Football League.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The 26-team minor professional ECHL has pushed back the start of its 2020-21 season until December 4, 2020. Each team will still play a full 72-game schedule. Originally, the season was to start on October 16, 2020.

Ontario Hockey League: The 20-team major-junior OHL announced it will delay the start of its 2020-21 season until December 1, 2020 with each team playing a 64-game schedule. The main issue is current travel restrictions on cross-border travel that would affect games against the league's three U.S.-based teams—the Erie (PA) Otters, Saginaw (MI) Spirit and Flint (MI) Firebirds. Last month, there was a proposal to base these three teams out of Toronto for the season to eliminate the travel concerns.

North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL recently announced its 2020-21 season will start on October 9, three weeks later than normal. The NAHL is committed to playing a full season of regular season games and it currently lists 28 teams.

Western Hockey League: The 22-team major-junior WHL announced it will delay the start of its 2020-21 season until December 4, 2020. This date is still contingent on approvals from government and health officials in the league's four Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and two states (Washington and Oregon). WHL teams play a 68-game schedule and the season normally starts around the third week of September. The WHL has five teams based in the United States.

National Hockey League: The 31-team NHL started its 24-team tournament last weekend to close out the 2019-20 season. The 12 Eastern Conference teams are playing all games in Toronto, while the 12 Western Conference teams are playing all games in Edmonton.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: The city of Sacramento is again being mentioned as the location for the professional NWSL's next expansion team. The men's Sacramento Republic FC of the Division-II USL Championship will be advancing to Major League Soccer in 2023 and has expressed interest in starting a women's team. The city's California Storm of the second-level pro-am Women's Premier Soccer League has been mentioned as the team moving up to the NWSL.

Major League Soccer: With the MLS is Back tournament ending next week, the 26-team league will resume regular-season games next week with teams playing 18 games that will include games at their home stadiums, initially before no fans. The Nashville SC and FC Dallas, which dropped out of the tournament due to coronavirus (COVID-19) cases among players, will play three extra games against each other.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The Division-III professional USL League One recently started its 2020 season, which was shortened due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and will run through October 2020. Only 11 of the league's 12 teams are playing, with Toronto FC II sitting out due to government-imposed travel restrictions. The USL League One played its inaugural season in 2019 with ten teams, but the Lansing Ignite FC folded in the off-season and the league added three new teams called the Union Omaha (Nebraska), New England Revolution II and Fort Lauderdale CF. The city of Lansing recently announced a new community-owned team called the Lansing Common FC to replace the loss of the Lansing Ignite FC. The Lansing Common will play in the amateur/semi-pro Midwest Premier League, which is a regional league with teams in Michigan, Illinois and Iowa.

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The pre-professional USL League Two recently announced the Real Central New Jersey soccer club, based in Mercer County, has been granted an expansion franchise for the 2021 season. The club plans to get community feedback to decide on a final name for the team.

Canadian Soccer League: The Ontario-based semi-professional CSL started a shortened 2020 season this weekend with seven First Division clubs playing all games at Centennial Field in Etobicoke on the western edge of Toronto. Games will be played through September with playoffs in October. The traditional CSL season runs from May to October, but the late start was due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Last season, the CSL operated with ten First Division teams and six Second Division teams.

Liga de Balompié Mexicano: The new Liga de Balompié Mexicano (Mexican Football League), or LBM, plans to start play in September with 22 teams and it was the first professional league sanctioned by the Sweden-based Confederation of Independent Football Associations (ConIFA). The LBM will be the first division of the league system under the ConIFA's Asociacion Nacional de Balompie Mexicano (ANBM), or National Association of Mexican Football. The LBM will be an alternative to Mexico's current first-division league called the Liga MX, which is part of the Mexican Football Federation and affiliated with the international FIFA soccer organization. The LBM plans to attract players from the Liga MX and its former relegation and promotion league called Ascenso MX, which disbanded earlier this year. The LBM will include markets that were unable to obtain a team in the Liga MX or the former Ascenso MX.

OTHER

Interstate Box Lacrosse Association: The IBLA, which is comprised of a Regional Box Lacrosse League (RBLL) in different regions or states across the United States, started its 2020 summertime season last month and it runs through August. The IBLA currently lists 11 different RBLLs but only six (Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Empire North-New York) are part of the 2020 schedule. Each RBLL champion is represented in a season-ending championship that will be held next month in Pittsburgh.

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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