Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
November 9, 2020 - Eastern League (EL)
Minor League Baseball (MiLB): Major League Baseball's New York Yankees will no longer be affiliated with the Trenton Thunder of the Double-A Eastern League, the Charleston (SC) RiverDogs of the low Class-A South Atlantic League and the Staten Island Yankees of the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League (NYPL). The Yankees will make the Somerset Patriots (Bridgewater, NJ), a team that has been part of the independent Atlantic League since the 1998 season, its new Double-A affiliate starting with the 2021 season. With the reduction of affiliated teams from 160 to 120, and the planned elimination of the NYPL, the Yankees will end its affiliation with the NYPL's Staten Island Yankees and will make the NYPL's Hudson Valley Renegades (Wappingers Falls, NY) its full-season Class-A affiliate in 2021. The future of any affiliations with Trenton, Charleston and Staten Island is uncertain. Part of the MiLB restructuring is to place teams closer to their MLB affiliates. This could see the California League and Florida State League moving from a high Class-A to a low Class-A classification with the current South Atlantic League. The Midwest League and short-season Northwest League would move to a high Class-A classification with the current Carolina League and be joined by a new high Class-A Mid-Atlantic League.
Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: Mexico's highest-level of baseball, the 16-team Triple-A LMB (Mexican Baseball League), announced there will be no team relocations prior to the 2021 season. The owner of the league's Cancun-based Quintana Roo Tigres was working to move the team to San Luis Colorado (Sonora) and the Aquascaliente Rieleros were reported to be considering a move to Veracruz for the 2021 season. The LMB announced investors submitted a letter of intent to a bring a future Veracruz Aquilas expansion team to the league, but no timetable was given for adding that team.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro men's ABA announced a new team called the River City Chaos, based in Danville (VA), has been added as an expansion team.
National Basketball Association: The National Basketball Players Association and the NBA owners agreed to start the 2020-21 NBA season on December 22, 2020 with each team playing a 72-game schedule, but there are still details to be finalized. The league might have to find a home court for the Toronto Raptors if travel restrictions between Canada and the United States are still in force. There is talk of the Raptors playing home games in either Newark or Buffalo.
United Basketball League: The UBL semi-pro exposure league, which has been playing a season consisting of weekend "cluster" events the past few years, held a six-team Basketball Madness event in Dallas on October 24, 2020. This was the league's first scheduled event since a "cluster" event was cancelled in March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
United Arena League: The lower-level indoor UAL released its 2021 season schedule that will feature only three UAL teams called the Georgialina Lions (Grove Town, GA/Augusta area), Palmetto Colts (Anderson, SC) and the Peach State Cats (Cumming, GA). The season will run from early May to late July with each team playing eight games, one of which will be against either the Southern Steam or Birmingham (AL) Ravens from Elite Indoor Football.
Indoor Football League: After being dropped last week by the National Arena League (NAL), the Louisville Xtreme announced the team has joined the IFL for the 2021 season. The IFL stated it will play its 13th season in 2021 with 12 of its 17 franchises participating. The IFL started the 2020 season with 13 teams but was forced to cancel the season after only two games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Louisville Xtreme joins the 2021 IFL with the new Northern Arizona Wranglers (Prescott Valley) and the Massachusetts Pirates (Worcester) from the NAL. The league's 2020 teams called the Cedar Rapids River Kings, Oakland Panthers, Quad City Steamwheelers and San Diego Strike Force decided to sit out the 2021 season and an expansion team called the Columbus (OH) Wild Dogs announced it will not start play until the 2022 season.
Texas Alliance Arena League: This week the proposed new TAAL announced the Fort Worth Blaze as the newest member for its inaugural 2021 season. The TAAL lists logos for three other teams called the Lone Star Bisons, Mid City Gunslingers and West Texas Vipers (Abilene).
Superior International Junior Hockey League: The seven-team Junior-A SIJHL, which is one of the ten leagues that make up the Junior-A Canadian Junior Hockey League, has received approval to begin play on a modified basis. This weekend the SIJHL started an exhibition schedule that will run until mid-December, but it only includes the league's five Canadian teams from Northwestern Ontario. The league's two teams based in the United States, the Thief River Falls (MN) Norskies and Wisconsin Lumberjacks (Spooner), will not be participating because of coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions between Canada and the United States. SIJHL teams will have to minimize physical contact during the games. It is still uncertain when the regular season will start due to issues related to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.
Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL announced its 2020-21 season could start as early as December 31, 2020 and run through April 18, 2021, but details have not been finalized. The MASL's Wichita Wings, St. Louis Ambush, Dallas Sidekicks and Kansas City Comets announced they will participate in a six-game pre-season Central Cup tournament from December 12 through December 20, 2020.
Major Arena Soccer League 3: The MASL's new 2021 amateur-level MASL3, or M3, announced the Springfield (MO) Demize has joined the M3 from the Premier Arena Soccer League where it was the 2020 national champion. The M3 was created as a gateway for amateur players looking to develop into professional players in the MASL2 and the MASL.
USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Reno 1868 FC of the Division-II professional USL Championship league announced it has ceased operations after four seasons and will no longer be part of the league. The team had an affiliation with Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes for its four seasons. The Reno 1868 FC shared the city's ballpark with the Reno Aces baseball team in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The team's inability to build a soccer-specific stadium was one of the reasons for folding. The league's 2022 expansion team called Queensboro FC (Queens, NY) will operate a team called the QBFC Academy in the new elite-level developmental USL Academy League that starts play in 2021.
United Women's Soccer: The pro-am UWS announced its reserve-level UWS League Two has formed a new Great Lakes Conference with six Michigan-based teams for the 2021 season. Teams include the AFC Plymouth, Corktown AFC (Detroit), Legends FC (Brighton; was Michigan Legends), Livonia City FC, North Oakland SC and Rebels FC (Macomb County). Five of these teams had been listed as part of a Michigan Conference for a 2020 season that was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Liga Mexicana de Futbol Rapido Pro: The top Mexican men's professional indoor soccer league known as the LMFR Pro recently started its 2020 season with 23 teams aligned in a ten-team Chihuahua-based Zona Norte (North Division), a seven-team Zona Noreste (Northeast Division) and a six-team Zona Centro (Central Division). The league's original 2020 season scheduled for late May to August was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Play in the Zona Norte was already shut down after only one game due to a spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the state of Chihuahua. The LMFR Pro also operates a women's league called the LMFR Femenil. The LMFR-Pro is planning a future men's Zona Sur (South Division).
Athletes Unlimited - Volleyball: After completing the first season of its women's professional softball league this summer at one location in Rosemont (IL), Athletes Unlimited is planning for the first season of its women's professional indoor volleyball league to be held at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville from February 26 to April 4, 2021. Four teams will each play a 30-game season. As it did with the softball league, each week individual athletes earn points based on team wins and individual performance. Teams will change each week with the top four athletes in the standings serving as captains and drafting their teams for the next week.
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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