Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 7, 2020 - Midwest League (MWL)
Empire Pro Baseball League: The independent Empire League started its shortened 2020 season this week with four teams playing all games at the ballpark of the Frontier League's Washington (PA) Wild Things. Teams called the Black Sox, originally listed as the Road Warriors, Brilliance Sox, Tupper Lake Riverpigs and Saranac Lake Surge will each play 22 games through September 24 with playoffs to follow.
Frontier League: The independent Frontier League announced it will extend its marketing and management agreement with the developmental California Winter League (CWL), which will remain as the Official Winter League of the Frontier League for a seventh season in 2021. The CWL will be starting its 12th month-long season in January 2021.
Midwest League: The Beloit (WI) Snappers of the low Class-A Midwest League announced the team will change its name when it moves to the new ABC Supply Stadium in the 2021 season. The team stated two-thirds of the fans submitting new nickname suggestions preferred the team change its name. As the new stadium is being completed, part of the 2021 season will be played at the old stadium with the team wearing the Snappers uniforms. The team will continue to wear the Snappers uniforms at Sunday home games in the new stadium.
Prospect League: The summer-collegiate Prospect League announced it will add a new team in Johnstown (PA) as the 14th team for the 2021 season. Johnstown will join with the league's 13th team based in Alton (IL) that recently announced it will be called the Alton River Dragons. Although the league cancelled play in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league's O'Fallon (MO) Hoots team organized the CarShield Collegiate League that featured the Hoots and five other teams called the Cornbelters, Eagles, Gems, Falcons and Cavemen playing games at CarShield Field in O'Fallon through mid-August.
Western Canada Baseball League: The Edmonton Prospects of the summer-collegiate WCBL officially announced the team will be moving to a new ballpark to be built in suburban Spruce Grove for the 2022 season.
Wild Wild West League: Although the summer-collegiate West Coast League did not play an official 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league's Portland (OR) Pickles played in the four-team WWWL this summer with the West Linn Knights, Gresham GreyWolves and the Portland Gherkins, a developmental team of the Pickles. The schedule ran from mid-July to mid-August with teams playing 12-14 games at one location in Marion County (OR).
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA G-League announced its new developmental "Select Team," which will consist of top high school prospects and some G-League veterans, will be called the NBA G-League Ignite when it starts play in the 2020-21 season. The team will not be affiliated with any G-League or NBA team. The one-year program will prepare Ignite players for NBA Draft readiness and professional life skills. The team will play 10-12 exhibition games against other G-League teams and international teams with games not counting in the G-League standings.
The Basketball League: The professional TBL announced a new team called the Kokomo (IN) BobKats as its latest expansion team for the 2021 season. With all 12 of the TBL teams returning from a shortened 2020 season, the league now stands at 21 teams. A 22nd team will be announced in the near future.
National Gridiron League: With the proposed 12-team NGL's recent move of the Dayton Firebirds to Louisville, the Eastern Conference divisions have been realigned. The North Division now includes the Louisville Firebirds, Pittsburgh Pioneers and Indiana Blue Bombers (Fort Wayne), while the South Division includes the Atlanta Wildcats, Virginia Beach Destroyers and Virginia Iron Horses (Roanoke). The NGL has been trying to get off the ground with its first season since 2019.
Major League Football: The proposed outdoor football league known as MLFB, which has been trying to get off the ground since 2016, is now listed as a developmental spring football league. The MLFB recently announced plans to host tryouts and camps from December 2020 through March 2021 at a location in Lakewood Ranch (FL). The league plans to own and operate six teams that will play an inaugural season in the summer of 2021. Teams will be based in markets that do not currently have National Football League or Major League Baseball teams. Another proposed new league called Major League Football has ambitious plans for 32 teams across the United States starting play in the fall of 2021 as a top-level professional league.
Kootenay International Junior Hockey League: Canada's Junior-B KIJHL, which consisted of 19 teams from British Columbia and one from Washington State last season, announced three teams called the 100 Mile House (BC) Wranglers, Beaver Valley Nighthawks (Fruitvale, BC) and Spokane (WA) Braves will not operate for the 2020-21 season due to effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Wranglers and Nighthawks decided to take a one-year leave of absence due to the lack of revenue from no fans being allowed in attendance, while the Braves are unable to travel between the United States and Canada. Eligible players from these teams were dispersed in a draft involving the remaining 17 teams.
North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL has lost another team called the New England Knights (Raynham, MA), whose ownership is now involved with the Boston Advantage teams in the junior-level United States Premier Hockey League, and is down to 30 teams for the 2020-21 season. Of the 34 teams from last season, the New England Knights, Skylands Kings (Stockholm, NJ), Breezy Point (MN) North Stars, L-A Nordiques (Lewiston/Auburn, ME), Maine Wild (Biddeford) and Coulee Region Chill did not return. The Coulee Region Chill was purchased and will become the Oklahoma City Blazers for the 2021-22 season. The NA3HL added the El Paso Rhinos and Oregon (WI) Tradesmen, which was the league's dormant Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts franchise, for the 2020-21 season. There were two off-season relocations for 2020-21 with the Elmira (NY) Jr. Soaring Eagles becoming the Bay State Bobcats (Chicopee, MA) and the New England Stars (Tyngsboro, MA) becoming the New Jersey Titans (Middletown). The alignment is down from six to five divisions with the Northeast and Coastal divisions being replaced by a new East Division.
Southern Professional Hockey League: The Peoria (IL) Rivermen of the SPHL recently signed a new lease with the Peoria Civic Center for use of the city's Carver Arena, but the Civic Center stated that without a proposed $4 million bailout from the city or state it will shut down in 60 days. The Rivermen stated if that happens, the team will not seek an alternate venue and will go dormant for the 2020-21 season. Even if the Civic Center obtains the funding, the Rivermen and the league's other Illinois-based team called the Quad City Storm (East Moline, IL) might shut down operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and being forced to play games without spectators.
Federal Prospects Hockey League: The ten-team lower minor professional FPHL announced an unofficial start date of December 3, 2020 for its 2020-21 season. The league owners still have to vote on the start date and then develop a schedule that would most likely be about 50 games. A lot depends on the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, but the league says it needs fans in the stands to survive.
National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL started its "NWSL Fall Series" this weekend with nine teams aligned in three regional pods. The OL Reign (Tacoma), Portland Thorns and Utah Royals (Salt Lake City) will play in the West, Sky Blue FC (New Jersey), Washington (DC) Spirit and the Chicago Red Stars will play in the Northeast, while the North Carolina Courage (Cary), Orlando Pride and the Houston Dash will play in the South. Each team will play four games against teams in their own pod through October 17, 2020. Although teams play games within their pods, the standings have all teams aligned in one table. Due to scheduling issues at its regular home at Red Bull Stadium in Harrison (NJ), the Sky Blue FC is playing home games in Montclair (NJ) on the campus of Montclair State University.
Major League Rugby: The professional MLR announced the exclusive negotiating agreement it entered into with the Kanaloa Hawaii group to bring a 2021 MLR franchise to Hawaii has expired. The MLR hopes the potential ownership group will continue working on plans so it could join in a future season. The ownership group was exploring use of Aloha Stadium in Honolulu for home games.
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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Midwest League Stories from September 7, 2020
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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