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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 2, 2020 - NBA G League (G League)

BASEBALL

New York-Penn League: With Major League Baseball (MLB) looking to reduce its affiliated minor league teams from 160 to 120, the MLB was reported to have proposed converting the 14-team short-season Class-A NYPL to a summer-collegiate wood-bat league similar to what recently was announced for the Appalachian League (APPY). The NYPL would be for draft-eligible senior-year college players, the current summer-collegiate Cape Code League for top junior-year players and the new summer-collegiate APPY would include top freshman and sophomore college prospects. Some current NYPL markets could stay as part of the 120 remaining teams affiliated with MLB and some NYPL larger-market teams could switch to one of the independent professional leagues, which play longer seasons than the 76-game NYPL season and the proposed 60-game summer-collegiate season.

Expedition League: The summer-collegiate Expedition League's new team in Butte (MT) will be called the Mining City Tommyknockers when it starts play in 2021. Tommyknockers are mythical beings that keep miners safe by knocking to indicate danger or telling miners where to dig.

Texas Collegiate League: After sitting out the 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Baton Rouge (LA) Rougarou will return to the summer-collegiate TCL under new ownership for the 2021 season.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro men's ABA announced a new team called the Delaware Snipers (Wilmington) has been added as an expansion team. A new team called the Los Angeles Wolfpack was also added and the ABA states it is the league's 180th team.

National Basketball Association – Gatorade League (G-League): The new Detroit-based G-League affiliate of the NBA's Detroit Pistons will be called the Motor City Cruise when it starts play for the 2021-22 season at a new arena under construction at Wayne State University. The Pistons recently purchased the G-League's Northern Arizona Suns (Prescott Valley) from the NBA's Phoenix Suns. The Motor City Cruise will replace the Grand Rapids Drive as the Pistons' G-League affiliate after the 2020-21 season. The owner of the Grand Rapids Drive wants to keep the team in the league and is seeking a new future NBA affiliation. The NBA currently has three teams—the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets—without direct relationships or affiliations with G-League teams.

Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA recently announced three new teams called the Boston 94 Elite, Virginia Beach (VA) Pumas and Crescent City Voodoux (New Orleans) have been added as expansion teams.

FOOTBALL

Canadian Football League: The CFL commissioner stated the league is considering various options under which it could hold a 2021 season as it tries to resume talks with the Canadian government about possible financial assistance. The CFL could play games in a single location, or hub city, and play games with a limited number of fans or no fans at all. The CFL cancelled its entire 2020 season and teams are in need of ticket sales to generate revenue.

Arena Football League: A group called Texas Sports & Entertainment recently purchased the assets and team name of the Washington (DC) Valor, which played three seasons (2017-19) in the now-defunct AFL, with plans to establish a new team in Texas called the San Antonio Valor for the 2021 season. The Valor has yet to announce which league it will be part of, but the Indoor Football League is said to be possibility. Another San Antonio team called the San Antonio Gunslingers recently announced it has joined the American Arena League.

National Arena League: The NAL announced two of its 2021 expansion teams called the Louisville Xtreme and the Tampa Bay Tornadoes have been terminated because they were unable to provide required letters of credit due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The league's Wheeling-based West Virginia Roughriders have decided to go dormant for the 2021 season due uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19), but the team will remain in good standing and plans to return in 2022. The NAL has six teams called the Jacksonville Sharks, Columbus (GA) Lions, Carolina Cobras (Greensboro, NC), Orlando Predators, Jersey Flight (Trenton), and Albany (NY) Empire that will move forward toward a 2021 season starting in April.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The 31-team AHL announced February 5, 2021 as an anticipated start date for its 2020-21 season. Additional details on a schedule and league alignment are still to be determined.

Ontario Hockey League: The 20-team major-junior OHL announced it will start its 2020-21 season on February 4, 2021 with teams playing a 40-game schedule instead of the normal 68 games. Teams will play primarily against teams in their geographic region due to health concerns and to reduce travel. The league alignment for the season will be announced in the future along with the season schedule. The OHL could be forced to play without body-checking based on statements from the Ontario provincial government.

SOCCER

Liga de Balompié Mexicano: Mexico's new Liga de Balompié (LBM), or Mexican Football League, has started its inaugural season with 17 teams. The LBM is an alternative to Mexico's current first-division league called the Liga MX and it is not sanctioned by the Mexican Football Federation.

USL Championship (United Soccer League): The 35-team Division-II professional USL Championship league cancelled its 2020 season championship match this weekend between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Phoenix Rising FC due to several players on the Tampa Bay team testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The 2020 season will end with two co-champions—the Tampa Bay Rowdies as champion of the 17-team Eastern Conference and the Phoenix Rising FC as champion of the 18-team Western Conference. The league is considering a 2021 Season Kickoff game between the two teams next season.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The Division-III professional USL League One cancelled its 2020 season championship match this weekend between the Greenville (SC) Triumph and Union Omaha due to several players on the Omaha team testing positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Triumph was named the season champion due to its highest regular-season point total of the 11 teams.

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The pre-professional U-23 USL League Two announced the Round Rock SC (Austin area) has joined for the 2021 season. The Fort Wayne FC, which was supposed to be a 2020 expansion team in the National Premier Soccer League before that league's 2020 season was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), will join the USL League Two for the 2021 and 2022 seasons before moving up to the Division-III professional USL League One in 2023. The Cleveland Force SC, which will place a team in the new elite-level U-19 USL Academy League, announced its intentions to place a future team in the USL League Two.

USL Academy League (United Soccer League): The USL Academy League, which will be an elite-level youth development competition starting in 2021, announced the founding teams in the remaining four of its seven divisions. The league announced a six-team East-Central Division, a nine-team Florida Division, a five-team South-Central Division and an eight-team Southwest Division. With these 28 teams and the 27 teams announced last week for the other three divisions (Northeast, Atlantic and Southeast), the league now has a total of 55 teams. Each Academy League team will be comprised of top U15-U19 prospects from an affiliated higher-level team in the USL system, either the USL Championship, USL League One or USL League Two.

National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA announced a team called the Maryland Bobcats (Boyds), based in Montgomery County and 30 miles north of Washington (DC), has joined the league and hopes to start play in the league's 2021 Spring Season. The Bobcats were part of the amateur United Premier Soccer League in 2020 and were one of the non-league teams that participated in the NISA's Independent Cup this past summer. A Bobcats II team plays in the regional amateur Eastern Premier Soccer League, which recently announced an affiliation with the NISA.

OTHER

National Lacrosse League: The professional indoor (box lacrosse) NLL announced it will return to play on April 9, 2021 to start its 2020-21 season with 13 teams. The NLL has usually played a December-through April regular season, but concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced a later start date. The NLL suspended play in March 2020 for its 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with teams having played 10 to 13 games of an 18-game schedule. The league eventually cancelled the remaining games of its 2019-20 regular season along with the post-season playoffs. This summer the NLL announced a Fort Worth expansion team will start play in the 2021-22 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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