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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
September 28, 2020 - Frontier League (FL)

BASEBALL

Frontier League: The owner of the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent American Association announced a deal to bring a Frontier League expansion team to Ottawa (Ontario, Canada) next season under a ten-year lease agreement. Ottawa's most recent team called the Ottawa Champions played five seasons (2015-19) in the independent Can-Am League, but the team was not included in a merger of the Can-Am League teams into the Frontier League after the 2019 season due to financial and ballpark lease issues. The first season of the new 14-team merged Frontier League was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Frontier League has two current Quebec-based Canadian teams called the Quebec Capitales (Quebec City) and the Trois-Rivieres Aigles. The city of Ottawa had an affiliated team called the Ottawa Lynx of the Triple-A International League for 15 seasons (1993-2007). The Can-Am League added the Ottawa Rapidz team the following season but it lasted only the 2008 season, and an Ottawa Voyageurs team failed to get off the ground for the league's 2009 season.

Atlantic League: Major League Baseball (MLB) announced this week the independent Atlantic League, Frontier League and American Association are now "Partner Leagues" of MLB. These leagues will collaborate on future MLB initiatives with MLB providing joint marketing and promotional opportunities. During the 2019 season, the Atlantic League served as a testing ground for various rule and equipment changes being explored by MLB. It is uncertain what role these leagues will have when MLB's agreement with Minor League Baseball expires next week.

Appalachian League (APPY): Just ahead of the current Professional Baseball Agreement between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball (MLB) expiring on September 30, MLB plans to announce next week that the advanced short-season Rookie-level APPY League will become a summer-collegiate league next season. All ten teams in the league are MLB-owned with local operators running the daily operations. USA Baseball will assist in selecting players for the new APPY summer-collegiate league.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association: The NBA commissioner stated the league's 2020-21 season will most likely not start until January 2021 due to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA's G-League usually starts its season in early November, but the league is said to be considering a single-location tournament that would take place between the end of the NBA's current playoffs and the start of the next NBA season in early 2021. The G-League operated with 28 teams last season and previously announced plans to add the Mexico City Capitanes team, which had been part of Mexico's Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional, for the 2020-21 season. The proposed tournament could also include the league's recently announced Ignite team, which will include top draft prospects that decided to skip college. The Ignite team is based in Walnut Park (CA).

FOOTBALL

United Arena League: Although the lower-level UAL had to cancel its inaugural 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league is preparing for a 2021 start. Three UAL teams called the Peach State Cats (Cumming, GA), Palmetto Colts (Anderson, SC) and the Georgia-Lina Lions (Augusta, GA area) are currently holding tryouts.

Texas Alliance Indoor League: The proposed lower-level professional TAIL, which states it is an independent professional arena league comprised of smaller professional arena teams in the Texas area, has come under new ownership and has been renamed the Texas Alliance Arena League (TAAL). The league had to cancel its inaugural 2020 spring-summer season that was to feature four league-owned teams called the Lonestar Bisons, Dallas Vipers, Texas Blaze and Midcity Gunslingers, along with the Las Vegas Kings and the Waco Tornadoes. Back in June 2020, the American Arena League announced it received commitments from owners of the then TAIL to serve as an AAL West Division for the 2021 season.

HOCKEY

North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced its 2020-21 season schedule will run from October 9, 2020 to April 25, 2021 and it will feature 23 teams aligned in four regional divisions. The NAHL had 26 teams last season, but the Jamestown (NY) Rebels, Springfield (IL) Junior Blues, Corpus Christi IceRays and Topeka Pilots did not return. The Topeka Pilots were relocated and will return in the 2021-22 season as the Kansas City Scouts, while the other three non-returning teams were sitting out due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The NAHL added one new team called the Wichita Falls (TX) Warriors, while the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights were sold and became the Danbury (CT) Junior Hat Tricks for the 2020-21 season.

Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League: The Welland Junior Canadians of Canada's Junior-B GOJHL announced they will sit out the 2020-21 season due to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The team intends on returning for the 2021-22 season.

SOCCER

Major Arena Soccer League: Two former indoor soccer players have filed an application to bring a new team called the Cleveland Crunch to the professional MASL for the 2021-22 season. Cleveland has had some indoor soccer history with the Cleveland Force that played ten seasons (1978-88) in the original Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). A new team called the Cleveland Crunch played the next three seasons (1989-1992) in the MISL, but when the renamed Major Soccer League folded in 1992 the Cleveland Crunch joined the indoor National Professional Soccer League for the next nine seasons (1992-2001). The Cleveland Crunch joined a second version of the MISL in 2001 and was renamed the Cleveland Force in 2002 until the team folded in 2005.

Major League Soccer: The 26-team MLS announced the remainder of its 2020 regular season schedule that will run through November 8, 2020 with playoffs to follow. Due to travel restrictions, the league's three Canadian teams will continue to play home games in the United States: the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena in Harrison (NJ), the Toronto FC in Hartford (CT) and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Portland (OR).

OTHER

Major League Rugby: The professional MLR announced its 2021 season will start on March 20 and will feature 13 teams aligned in a six-team Eastern Conference and a seven-team Western Conference. The MLR operated with 12 teams in a 2020 season that was cancelled after only a few games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Glendale-based Colorado Raptors of the Western Conference have since withdrawn from the league and two new Western Conference teams called the Dallas Jackals and Los Angeles Giltinis have been added.

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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