Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 21, 2020 - International League (IL)
International League: Although the Indianapolis Indians of the Triple-A International League have yet to comment on a possible name change for the team, a recent unscientific poll in the city found that 67 percent of the respondents think the team should change its name. About seven weeks ago the team announced it would form a committee to reassess the appropriateness of its team name.
Coastal Plain League: The summer-collegiate CPL announced it will add a new team in Spartanburg (SC) for the 2021 season. The city was previously home to a CPL team called the Spartanburg Stingers for five seasons (2003-07).
West Coast League: The summer-collegiate WCL announced a new team called the Edmonton Riverhawks has been added for the 2021 season and will play at RE/MAX Field, which had been home to the Edmonton Prospects of the summer-collegiate Western Canada Baseball League (WCBL). The Prospects lost its lease at RE/MAX Field and decided to build their own new ballpark in suburban Spruce Grove where the team will restart play in the WCBL for the 2022 season.
Major League Baseball: MLB officially announced plans for the 2020 postseason that will be held at neutral sites. The initial wild card games will be held in the home stadiums of each league's top four seeds. The San Diego Padres' Petco Park and the Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles will host the American League Division Series games, while San Diego will also host the American League Championship Series. The Texas Rangers' Globe Life Field in Arlington and the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park will host the National League Division Series games, while Globe Life Field will also host the National League Championship Series and the World Series.
The Basketball League: This week the professional TBL announced its 11th and 12th expansion teams for the 2021 season will be the Detroit Hustle and the Flint United. With all 12 of the TBL teams returning from a shortened 2020 season, the league has doubled in size to 24 teams. The TBL plans to announce four to eight more teams in the upcoming weeks.
American Basketball Association - Mexico: The semi-pro men's ABA has been trying to get its Mexican league called the ABA Mexico off the ground for a couple of years and is now planning to start play this fall. The league currently lists four Baja California teams called the Rosarito Ball, ), Cerveceros de Tecate, Tijuana Black Sheep and Panteras de Mexicali; a Baja California Sur team called the Tucanes de Mexico (Los Cabos); and three U.S. teams called the San Diego Surf, San Diego Kings and San Diego Guardians.
Women's Universal Basketball Association: The WUBA recently held a player draft for teams that are scheduled to start play next month. The WUBA, which played six seasons (2011-17) and was owned by the group that operates the men's semi-pro Universal Basketball Association, was sold this year and the new ownership is restarting the league after a three-season absence. The league currently lists 25 teams in four conferences to be located in Atlanta (Southern Conference), Oakland (Western Conference), New York City (Northern Conference) and Houston (Heartland Conference). A previous WUBA release said the fall session feature non-professional rookie-level players right out of the NCAA, while a 2021 spring-summer session would include mostly overseas players trying to stay in shape during their off-season.
Indoor Football League: The IFL's Oakland Panthers team announced it will go dormant for the league's 2021 season set to start next spring. The Panthers entered the league as a 2020 expansion team, but were unable to start play when the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A co-owner of the Panthers also owns the league's Cedar Rapids (IA) River Kings and San Diego Strike Force and those teams are reported to be sitting out the 2021 season.
Pro Prep Flag Football: Two players from the Canadian Football League have created the Winnipeg-based Pro Prep Flag Football league that will start play on September 30 with a Varsity Division (High School) and a Pro Division (Junior, College and Pro). Since the CFL, Canadian university and Manitoba high school football seasons were all cancelled, the new league wants to fill the gap as a competitive alternative to tackle football. The league is sanctioned by Football Manitoba and endorsed by Football Canada. All games will be played at one location in Winnipeg.
American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's expansion Seattle Kraken announced a change in the location for a new arena that was to be built in downtown Palm Springs (CA) for its new AHL affiliate. The new arena will still be located in the Coachella Valley, but will move about 15 miles southeast and closer to Palm Desert (CA). This will push back the start of the Seattle AHL affiliate from the 2021-22 season, which is when the new NHL team will start play, to the 2022-23 season. Therefore, the Seattle Kraken will not have its own AHL affiliate for the inaugural 2021-22 season.
ECHL: The owner of the ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers (St. John's) signed an agreement to bring an ECHL expansion team to the new Xtream Arena in Coralville (IA), which is about ten miles from Iowa City and close to the University of Iowa. The team is expected to start play in the 2021-22 season. The ownership group is also planning to bring an ECHL expansion team to Trois-Rivieres (Quebec) for the 2021-22 season.
North American Hockey League: Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in the state of Illinois, the Springfield Jr. Blues of the Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced the team will sit out the 2020-21 season. The team will lose rights to its players that will be part of a dispersal draft, so it will have to sign all new players if it returns next season. The Springfield Jr. Blues team started play in 1993 and is the league's longest tenured team.
United States Hockey League: The Tier-I junior-level USHL announced two of its Eastern Conference teams called the Cedar Rapids (IA) Roughriders and the Madison (WI) Capitols will sit out the 2020-21 season, so the league will operate with 14 teams. The Roughriders' home arena suffered significant damage from a storm last month. The Capitols were facing coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions from the state of Wisconsin. A dispersal draft will be held for players on the two teams that both plan to return for the 2021-22 season.
LNAH: The Quebec-based minor professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, held its 2020-21 player draft last month for the same six teams as last season, but the league announced this week it will probably not return to training camps until December. Because there are too many uncertainties surrounding restrictions for the coronavirus (COVID-19), the season will probably start in 2021.
USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Division-II pro USL Championship officially announced the Oakland Roots of the Division-III National Independent Soccer Association will join for the 2021 season and take over the territory rights of the once-proposed USL Championship East Bay franchise.
USL League One (United Soccer League): The future of the FC Tucson in the Division-III USL League One is uncertain. FC Tucson was purchased by the Phoenix Rising FC of the Division-II USL League Championship in 2017 to serve as a developmental affiliate team for Phoenix, but that development agreement was ended this year and FC Tucson could be put up for sale.
National Lacrosse League: The professional indoor NLL held a player draft this week for the league's 2021 season, which will include the same 13 teams that participated in the 2020 season that was shortened due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
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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