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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 16, 2020 - International League (IL)

BASEBALL

International League: Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins have ended their affiliation with the Rochester (NY) Red Wings of the Triple-A International League. The Twins are reported to make the St. Paul Saints, a team from the independent American Association, its new Triple-A affiliate. The Red Wings are expected to be assigned a new MLB parent club in the near future.

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico: Mexico's ten-team fall/winter LMP, or Mexican Pacific League, has shut down play for 11 days until November 17 due to several coronavirus (COVID-19) cases among players.

South Atlantic League (SALLY): Major League Baseball's New York Mets have ended their affiliation with the Columbia (SC) Fireflies of the low Class-A SALLY. With the Florida State League (FSL) switching from a high Class-A to a low Class-A designation under the restructuring of Minor League Baseball, the Mets decided to keep its St. Lucie Mets FSL team as its low Class-A affiliate. Columbia is expected to be assigned a new MLB affiliation. The Mets announced it will make the Brooklyn Cyclones, which was a short-season Class-A team in the New York-Penn League, a full-season affiliate in 2021. It is uncertain if the Cyclones will be a high Class-A team or possibly switched to Double-A with the Mets' current Binghamton (NY) Rumble Ponies Double-A team moving to high Class-A.

Southern League: The Pensacola Blue Wahoos of the Double-A Southern League announced the team will be called the Pensacola Mullets for at least one game in the 2021 season. The Mullets nickname was the runner-up in the name-the-team contest prior to the team's first season in 2012 and was used for a one-game promotion in the 2016 season.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro men's ABA announced a new team called the Altoona (PA) Railroaders will start play in the 2021-22 season. An ABA team called the Altoona Sharks was proposed in 2012 as part of the failed "Pennsylvania Project", which featured one ownership group attempting to add 19 different Pennsylvania-based ABA teams to the league.

National Basketball League of Canada: The eight-team NBL-Canada, which usually operates a season from late December through April, announced March 12, 2021 as a tentative start date for its next season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In March 2020, the league postponed play in its 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) with a third of the regular-season games remaining.

The Basketball League: The TBL announced the addition of two more California-based teams called the Temecula Eagles and the California Sea-Kings (Seaside) for the league's fourth season starting in March 2021. These are the league's 17th and 18th new teams since last season and with all 12 teams returning from a shortened 2020 season, the league is now up to 30 teams for the 2021 season. The TBL has a goal of 32 teams and now has five California-based teams. The California Sea-Kings have been part of the American Basketball Association for the past ten years and based in the Monterey/Seaside area.

FOOTBALL

American Arena League: A new team called the St. Louis Bandits and the Chicago Power, formerly the Southland Power of the Indoor Football Association, have joined the AAL and will start play in 2021.

National Arena League: The NAL announced the addition of its first West Coast team called the Ontario (CA) Bandits will be part of the league's next season starting in April 2021. The Ontario Bandits become the league's seventh team along with the Jacksonville Sharks, Columbus (GA) Lions, Carolina Cobras (Greensboro, NC), Orlando Predators, Jersey Flight (Trenton), and Albany (NY) Empire.

American West Football Conference: An ownership group called Rage Sports LLC, which planned to have its semi-pro Tri-City Rage (Kennewick, WA) team fill in last season for the AWFC's folded Tri-Cities Fire (Kennewick), is working to return an AWFC team to the Tri-Cities for the 2021 or 2022 season. The Fire dropped out of the league just prior to the 2020 season and the Rage was to play the Fire's previously scheduled road games, but the 2020 season was eventually cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A new team called the San Diego Red Tails is organizing and is considering the AWFC or Elite Indoor Football as its home when it starts play in 2022.

HOCKEY

Manitoba Junior Hockey League: The 12-team MJHL, which is one of the ten leagues that make up the Junior-A Canadian Professional Hockey League, has decided to shut down play in its 2020-21 season until January 2021 due to an increase in cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the province. The 2020-21 season started on October 9 and teams had played anywhere from five to ten games.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The 18-team QMJHL announced 7 of the 12 Quebec-based teams that were idled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) have been cleared to restart play in a protected environment. The league's Gatineau Olympiques, Drummondville Voltigeurs, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Victoriaville Tigers, Shawinigan Cataractes, Chicoutimi Saguenéens and Quebec Remparts will play all games at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City from November 17 to 27, 2020.

National Hockey League: The NHL is considering a number of options for starting its 2020-21 season. This could include a reduced schedule of games, teams playing alternate weeks at hub cities, and a temporary realignment to reduce travel and to place the Canadian teams in their own division due to travel restrictions.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The MLS announced it will hold a player draft to stock the league's 2021 expansion team called the Austin FC on December 15, 2020. Austin FC will become the league's 27th team. The MLS also announced it will start its next season in early March 2021. The league hopes to play games in home markets and avoid a one-city bubble format. Fans were allowed in some cities in 2020, but restrictions on having fans during the season caused significant financial losses.

USL League One (United Soccer League): A potential ownership group for a 2022 Division-III USL League One expansion team called New Hampshire FC signed a franchise agreement with the league last month. The group is looking to build a 5,000-seat soccer stadium and is considering sites in Nashua, Londonderry or Salem.

Liga de Balompié Mexicano: Some of the teams in the new 17-team Mexican men's professional LBM (Mexican Football League), which started its inaugural season with 17 teams on October 14, 2020, are having financial issues leading to some players and coaches not being paid. The LBM took over operations of the Atletico Jalisco club, which was unable to use the Atletico Jalisco name and recently played a game as the "Sin Nombre" (Nameless). The Lobos Zacatepec club has dropped out due to financial problems and other teams called the Acaxees Acapulco, Club Veracruzano and San José are reported to have similar issues. Also this week, the league president announced his resignation.

National Independent Soccer Association: The men's Division-III professional NISA announced an application for a NISA expansion team in Chicago has been approved and the team will start play in the 2021 Fall Season. The NISA reported it has received an application from a group trying to bring a team to Rochester (NY). The city's most recent professional team was the Rochester Rhinos, which last played in the Division-II United Soccer League's 2017 season and planned to return in the future as part of the Division-III professional USL League One, if a new stadium could be built. An amateur men's team called the Rochester Lancers is part of the National Premier Soccer League.

National Women's Soccer League: The NWSL held the player draft this week to stock the new Racing Louisville FC expansion team that will start play as the league's tenth team in the 2021 season.

OTHER

Athletes Unlimited - Lacrosse: After completing the first season of a women's professional softball league this summer at one location in Rosemont (IL) and announcing the first season of a new women's professional indoor volleyball league will be held in Nashville starting in February, Athletes Unlimited announced its third professional sports league will be an outdoor women's lacrosse league. The new league will play in July and August 2021 at a location still to be determined.

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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