Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
August 24, 2020 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
Empire Pro Baseball League: The independent Empire League announced the venue for its three-day training camp at the end of this month and its modified 2020 season starting September 1 has been moved from Fort Myers (FL) to Pennsylvania and the home of the Frontier League's Washington Wild Things. The move was caused by a spike of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Florida. The Washington Wild Things were recently forced to cancel hosting of a four-team Heritage League this summer due to state restrictions on crowd gatherings, but the Empire League will not be affected by these restrictions since it will not have fans or concessions for its games. The Empire League schedule will have two of its teams called the Tupper Lake Riverpigs and the Saranac Lake Surge, along with two of the participating Heritage League teams called the Baseball Brilliance Sox and Road Warriors, operated by the barnstorming Blacksox Pro Baseball Club. The four Empire League teams will each play 23 games through September.
Liberation Professional Baseball League: The four-team Liberation League started its inaugural 2020 season on August 7 and it is supposed to run through October 18. All games will be played in Huntingburg (IN) at League Stadium, which is normally home to the Dubois County Bombers of the summer-collegiate Ohio Valley League. The four teams are made of up of former affiliated and other minor league players looking for a place to play this summer due to the various leagues shut down by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The teams are called the Indiana Barn Owls, Indy Windstorm, Baseball Resume.com Bandits and the California Dogecoin (Fairfield), which was supposed to be a new 2020 team in the independent Pacific Association.
The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced its eighth expansion team for the 2021 season will be the Enid (OK) Outlaws. The team's owner has operated the Oklahoma Outlaws team that has been around for several years and a member of the semi-pro Universal Basketball Association. The TBL has grown to 20 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. More expansion teams are expected to be added before the 2021 season.
National Basketball League â United States: The NBL-US, which wants to provide opportunities for players to showcase their talents to leagues in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, recently held a seven-team NBL 2K20 Championship for a 2020 season cut short by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The league is planning a 2021 season that will start in April with 18 teams. The league recently announced the addition of new teams called the Buckeye (AZ) Blackhawks and three Florida Basketball Association teams called the Space Coast Stars (Melbourne), Fort Lauderdale Herd and Palm Beach Thunder.
National Arena League: After announcing a few weeks ago the addition of the Baltimore Lightning as a 2021 expansion team, the NAL announced this week the termination of the Baltimore Lightning franchise for failure to provide a satisfactory letter of credit and an executed arena lease. The Lightning was supposed to replace the city's Arena Football League team called the Baltimore Brigade, which ceased operations along with the league after the 2019 season.
Canadian Football League: The nine-team CFL announced this week the cancellation of its entire 2020 season due to the potential financial losses from the league playing games without fans during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The league had planned a shortened season with all games played in Winnipeg, but the Canadian government did not grant the league's request for financial assistance. Government travel restrictions would have also been a problem for players from the United States trying to travel to Canada. The original 2020 CFL regular-season schedule had each team playing 18 games from mid-June through October. The CFL stated it is now concentrating on a return in 2021.
Indoor Football League: The Worcester-based Massachusetts Pirates team, which has been part of the National Arena League since its first season in 2018, announced it has joined the IFL and will be part of that league's 2021 season. Several reports indicated a new IFL team will be added to Prescott Valley (AZ) for the 2021 season. This would be the league's third team in Arizona, which is already home to the Tucson Sugar Skulls and Arizona Rattlers (Phoenix). A former Prescott Valley team called the Arizona Adrenaline was part of the 2008 American Indoor Football Association and after a two-season dormancy returned for the 2011 season in the IFL before folding.
XFL: The group that purchased the assets of the XFL out of bankruptcy earlier this month officially closed on the sale this week. No timeline for a possible return to play has been announced.
United States Hockey League: The 16-team Midwest-based USHL, which is the only top-level Tier-I junior hockey league in the United States, announced its 2020-21 season will start later than usual with a shorter schedule of 54 games per-team rather than 62 games. The USHL season normally starts in late September and runs through March, but will now run from November 6, 2020 to April 24, 2021.
Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League: The 12-team Junior-A level SJHL, which is one of ten member leagues in the Junior-A Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), announced it has pushed back the start of its 2020-21 season from September 26 to October 9 and still expects to play a full season. Last month, the CJHL's British Columbia Hockey League pushed back its 2020-21 season start to December 1.
National Collegiate Development Conference: The independent United States Premier Hockey League's Tier-II junior-level NCDC announced its 2020-21 season will start the week of September 21, 2020 and run through late March 2021. The NCDC will again have 13 teams, but they are now aligned in a six-team South and a seven-team North division. The league lost the Rochester (NY) Monarchs in the off-season, but added the new Boston Advantage team. Also, the Boston Bandits were sold and relocated to become the Philadelphia Hockey Club based in Sewell (NJ).
National Women's Soccer League: After completing its month-long Challenge Cup tournament in July, the professional NWSL is discussing the possibility of a return to play in September and October with the nine teams aligned in three-team pods and playing games only within their pod. There has been more talk of a Sacramento expansion team being added in 2021 or 2022. The team would be operated by the men's Sacramento Republic FC, which currently plays in the Division-II USL Championship and is moving up to Major League Soccer for the 2023 season.
Liga MX Femenil: The top Mexican women's soccer league known as Liga MX Femenil, which is affiliated with the men's top-level Liga MX and has a team represented by each of the men's 18 Liga MX teams, started the first part (Apertura) of its 2020-21 season called the Torneo Guardianes on August 13. Each team will play 17 games, one against each of the other teams, through November 20, 2020. As it was with the men's Liga MX, there was only one team change since last season with the relocation of the Morelia Monarcas to Mazatlan (Sinaloa) as the Mazatlan FC.
Liga de ExpansiÃ³n MX: Mexico's new second-tier league called the Liga de ExpansiÃ³n, which replaces the former Ascenco MX that disbanded earlier this year, started its inaugural season this week with 16 teams. The new league will be more of a developmental league for teams in Mexico's top Liga MX rather than operate as a relegation and promotion league as the Ascenso MX did. All 12 teams from the 2019-20 Ascenso MX joined the new league, although there were some relocations. The Atlante FC moved from Cancun to Mexico City, Club Atletico Zacatepec moved to Morelia as the Atletico Morelia and the Cafetaleros de Chiapas moved to Cancun as the Cancun FC. The other four Liga de ExpansiÃ³n teams include Tepatitlan FC and Tlaxcala FC promoted from the third division Premiere League, and two expansion teams that are Liga MX affiliate teams called Tapatio and Pumas Tabasco. The first part (Apertura) of the 2020-21 Torneo Guardianes season runs through November 22, 2020 with each team playing a 15-game schedule, one game against each of the other teams. All teams are aligned in one table.
Major Arena Soccer League: Due to potential international travel restrictions and other concerns with the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the MASL's two Mexico-based teams called the Monterrey Flash and the Soles de Sonora have been granted a one-year leave of absence for the upcoming 2020-21 season. Mexico's Chihuahua Savage team in the MASL2 will also sit out the 2020-21 season.
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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