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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
August 17, 2020 - Frontier League (FL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: The Frontier League's Washington (PA) Wild Things have suspended play in its 2020 four-team independent baseball series after being warned by Pennsylvania State Police that there could be enforcement actions if the teams continued playing. Last week, the Wild Things announced they would end the series on August 23, three weeks earlier than scheduled, but now have stopped play entirely.

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico: Mexico's ten-team fall-winter LMP, or Mexican Pacific League, announced the schedule for its upcoming 2020-21 season that will have each team playing a 67-game schedule from October 15 through December 30, 2020.

Southern League: The owner of the Double-A Southern League's Tennessee Smokies team, which is based out of Smokies Stadium in Kodak (TN), about 20 miles east of Knoxville, announced plans for a new ballpark to be built in Knoxville. The Southern League team was based in Knoxville since 1972 and known as the Knoxville Smokies from 1993 to 1999 until moving to Kodak as the Tennessee Smokies for the 2000 season. The lease at Smokies Stadium expires in 2024. A ballpark financing plan still needs to be developed.

Prospect League: The city of Johnstown (PA) has agreed to allow the ownership of a prospective expansion team in the summer-collegiate Prospect League play 30 games in 2021 at the city's Sargent Stadium, which has been home to the local amateur Johnstown Summer Collegiate Baseball League.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association G-League: The city of Santa Cruz (CA), home of the G-League's Santa Cruz Warriors and a successful affiliate of the NBA's Golden State Warriors, announced its support to try to keep the team in the city for at least the next two seasons. The issue is building a more permanent home for the team that has been playing home games in a tent-fabric roof arena since its arrival in 2012. The structure has a projected 15-year life and was expected to be replaced with a permanent structure if the team was a success. The G-League team has apparently received interest from other markets in the Bay Area about relocating the team to a more permanent home.

FOOTBALL

The Spring League: The developmental TSL, which holds various scrimmages and events to showcase talent to the National Football League and Canadian Football League, announced plans to operate a six-team nine-game tournament in Las Vegas from October 17 through October 28, 2020. Teams will be stocked with players released from NFL teams and also players from the top five college conferences that either opted out of playing in 2020 or had their college seasons cancelled.

National Arena League: The NAL announced an expansion team will be added in Albany (NY) for the 2021 season. Albany most recently had an indoor team called the Albany Empire, which played two seasons (2018-19) in the Arena Football League (AFL) until that league folded this past fall. A team called the Albany Firebirds played 11 seasons (1990-2000) in the original AFL before moving to Indiana. A team called the Albany Conquest was part of the original AFL's minor league af2 (arenafootball2) for eight seasons (2002-09), changing to the Firebirds for its last season.

American West Football Conference: Late last month, the four-team semi-pro AWFC officially cancelled its 2020 season due to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The league had planned to play from mid-March through June. The inaugural 2019 AWFC season had four teams called the Idaho Horsemen (Nampa), Reno Express, Tri-Cities Fire (Kennewick, WA) and Wenatchee Valley (WA) Skyhawks. A new team called the Yakima (WA) Canines was added for 2020, but the Reno Express and Tri-Cities Fire dropped out. With only three teams, a semi-pro outdoor team called the Tri-City Rage, also based in Kennewick, was to be a fourth team for the 2020 season.

HOCKEY

Federal Prospects Hockey League: The FPHL's new Fraser (MI) expansion team announced it will be called the Motor City Rockers when it starts play in the 2020-21 season. The team will be added to the Western Division where it will replace the folded Battle Creek Rumble Bees. The city of Fraser has been home to some other minor professional hockey teams like the Detroit Dragons, which evolved from the proposed Motor City Gamblers, Michigan/Detroit Falcons, Detroit Hitmen and the Motor City Mechanics.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The 18-team major-junior QMJHL announced it will start the 2020-21 season on October 1, 2020 with teams aligned in six-team Maritimes, East and West divisions. Each team will play a 60-game schedule only against teams in their own division. All of the Quebec-based teams will play without fans, while a decision is still to be made for the teams in the Maritimes Division. The league's Gatineau (Quebec) Olympiques have to find a home arena for the season with its arena being used as a coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency center.

Ontario Junior Hockey League: Canada's Junior-A OJHL recently announced plans to add up to two new expansion teams and is currently taking applications. The league operated with 22 teams last season and would like to grow to 24 teams. The league's Buffalo Jr. Sabres team recently announced it will be taking a leave of absence for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

SOCCER

National Independent Soccer Association: After its eight-team 2020 Spring Season was cut short by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and playing a 15-team pro-am Independent Cup tournament this summer, the Division-III professional NISA started its 2020 Fall Season with seven teams aligned in a four-team Eastern Conference and a three-team Western Conference. Of the eight teams from the Spring Season, the San Diego-based 1904 FC and the Charlotte-based Stumptown Athletic did not return, while the New York Cosmos and the New Amsterdam FC (Bronx) were added. The NISA will hold regionalized competition through mid-September followed by a single-location tournament.

Major League Soccer: The new MLS expansion franchise in St. Louis announced the team will be called the St. Louis City SC when it starts play in the 2023 season. St. Louis last had a top-level soccer team called the St. Louis Stars that played in the 1967 season of the former 1968 National Professional Soccer League and played ten seasons (1968-77) in the former North American Soccer League. The MLS returned to 2020 regular-season play this week with games initially played before no fans. Due to travel restrictions between Canada and the United States, the league's three Canadian teams (Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps FC) will start by playing each of the other Canadian teams three times.

Canadian Premier League: The eight-team professional CPL started its shortened 2020 season called "The Island Games" this week with all games to be played without fans in Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island). The first stage will have each team play one game against the other seven teams. Four teams will advance to a group stage to determine two semi-finalists for a one-game championship. 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 league was unable to start play in April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The ownership group trying to bring a Division-III professional USL League One team to the city of Portland (ME) has raised enough money to start working with the city on a new soccer stadium. The proposed team will be called the Portland United.

Western Indoor Soccer League: The men's outdoor Snohomish County (WA) FC Steelheads announced it will add a men's team to the 2020-21 elite-level WISL Men's Division and a women's team called the Snohomish County Silvers to the 2021 elite-level WISL's Women's Division. The WISL Men's Division played a 2019-20 season with six Washington state-based teams, one of which was a team operated by the Snohomish County Skyhawks that will return in 2020-21. A Lady Skyhawks team was part of the WISL's first 2020 Women's Division, which was a six-week four-team season cut short by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Snohomish County FC will take over the women's WISL team as the Silvers in 2021.

OTHER

National Volleyball Association: The men's NVA was forced to cancel its third season that was to run from April through June 2020. The NVA listed eight participating teams with a National Conference that included the Orange County Stunners, Southern Exposure (Gainesville, FL), Team Freedom (New Jersey) and Las Vegas Ramblers, and an Eastern Conference with the Los Angeles Blaze, Ontario (CA) Matadors, Northeast Force (Connecticut) and Utah Stingers.

Volleyball League of America: The men's VLA started play last month with a VLA Kickoff Classic Tournament in Angola (IN). Participating teams included the Ascension (Phoenix), Chicago Icemen, Team LVC (Legion Volleyball Club of New York), Team Pineapple (Angola, IN) and Southern California Rising Tide. All of these teams were part of the 2019 season in the National Volleyball Association.

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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