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 California League

Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 30, 2020 - California League (CalL)


BASEBALL

California League: With the Fresno Grizzlies recently losing its Triple-A Pacific Coast League affiliation with Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals, the team has been given until next week to decide whether to move its MLB affiliate to the California League, which will switch from a high Class-A to a low Class-A designation, or risk losing an affiliation altogether. Apparently, MLB's Colorado Rockies are interested in adding Fresno as its low Class-A team starting in 2021.

Atlantic League: Officials on Staten Island are reported to be considering a team in the independent Atlantic League for the local Richmond County Bank Ballpark after the Staten Island Yankees lost its Major League Baseball affiliation. The team's former New York-Penn League is supposed to switch to a summer-collegiate league. There is also talk of possibly reconfiguring the ballpark for additional use by a professional rugby team and a local soccer team.

South Atlantic League (SALLY): Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals will not renew its affiliation with the Hagerstown (MD) Suns of the low Class-A SALLY. The Suns suffered from poor attendance and an older deteriorating stadium and the team was targeted for elimination as a future MLB affiliate. The city could be considered for a possible independent or summer-collegiate team.

Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: With the recent news that Veracruz had applied for an expansion team in the Mexico's highest-level LMB (Mexican Baseball League), Baseball Mexico reported the owners of the Guadalajara-based Jalisco Charros, a current team in Mexico's fall-winter Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (Mexican-Pacific League), have also expressed interest in adding an LMB expansion team. It is uncertain if the LMB would actually grow from 16 to 18 teams or possibly eliminate or relocate two existing teams.

Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League announced its 2021 season schedule that will feature all of the league's 22 teams playing 72 games. Although the league did not have an official season in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, several teams were involved in regional "pod" competitions during the summer of 2020.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a team called the Hardwood Hussle, based in San Gabriel Valley (CA), has been added as a 2021-22 expansion team.

The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced its 19th expansion team since last season and 31st team overall for the upcoming 2021 season will be the Salem (OR) Capitals. This team is expected to be a natural rival for the 2021 Portland (OR) Storm expansion team. The ownership of the league's former San Diego Waves team, which played only in the 2019 season, will own and operate the Capitals.

FOOTBALL

National Arena League: The NAL announced this week its 2021 season schedule will feature seven teams each playing a 14-game schedule from April 3 through July 24, 2021. The NAL postponed its entire 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Of the seven 2020 teams, the Worcester-based Massachusetts Pirates left the NAL and the Wheeling-based West Virginia Roughriders decided to sit out the 2021 season. The NAL added the expansion Albany (NY) Empire and Ontario (CA) Bandits for 2021.

Women's Football League Association: The proposed new elite women's full-tackle WFLA is organizing for a start in May 2021. The league is planning 32 teams aligned in 16-team Eastern and Western conferences.

HOCKEY

National Women's Hockey League: The six-team NWHL announced plans this week to hold a shortened 2020-21 season at an arena in Lake Placid (NY) from January 23 through February 5, 2021. Each team will play only five games, one game against each of the other teams followed by playoffs. All games will be played without fans. The NWHL operated last season with five teams and added the Toronto Six expansion team for the 2020-21 season.

Professional Women's Hockey Players Association: The PWHPA, which is trying to develop a sponsor-driven women's hockey league with more competitive player salaries and benefits, announced its Toronto-based team will be call Team Sonnet after signing a sponsorship deal with the Sonnet Insurance Company. After operating a barnstorming tour-based schedule of events in the 2019-20 season, the PWHPA will operate five regional training hubs in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, New Hampshire (Hudson) and Minnesota during the 2020-21 season. The PWHPA says each hub's team will be branded this season.

North American Hockey League: The five-team Midwest Division of the junior-A level NAHL has shut down play until December 31, 2020 due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in the state of Minnesota.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The major-junior QMJHL had to suspend games in its six-team Maritimes Division due to new coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Two of the six teams had already suspended play due to player infections.

Canadian Professional Hockey League: Some of the ten league that are part of the junior-A CPHL, announced delays in their 2020-21 schedules due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions across Canada. The 22-team Ontario Junior Hockey League hopes to start a shortened season in early January 2021. The British Columbia Hockey League cancelled its exhibition schedule and delayed its season start until December 8, 2020. The BCHL's only United States-based team called the Wenatchee (WA) Wild will not play this season due to travel restrictions. The Albert Junior Hockey League started play earlier this month, but announced this week it will delay further play for this season. The Central Canada Hockey League played some pre-season games, but has delayed the start of its 2020-21 season.

SOCCER

National Women's Soccer League: A potential buyer of the NWSL's Utah Royals FC franchise is reported to be considering a move of the team to Kansas City, possibly in time for the 2021 season. A team called FC Kansas City was an original member of the NWSL in the inaugural 2013 season. That team struggled financially and folded after the 2017 season. A new team called the Utah Royals FC (Salt Lake City) joined the NWSL for the 2018 season and absorbed the Kansas City player contracts. The owner of the Royals is also selling Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake men's team and the Division-II Real Monarchs team in the men's Division-II USL Championship.

Canadian Soccer League: Last month the Ontario-based semi-pro CSL completed an abbreviated 2020 season that included only five First Division teams (Brantford Galaxy, Hamilton City, Scarborough, Serbian White Eagles and FC Vorkuta) each playing a total of eight games at two different locations with no more than 100 fans in attendance. The CSL did not operate a Second Division of teams in 2020.

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The pre-professional USL League Two announced a team called FC Málaga City (Pleasant Valley, NY) will be part of the 2021 season. The team is affiliated with the FC Málaga City Academy of Spain.

OTHER

Minor League Cricket: The new MiLC, which is the lower-level league for the proposed Major League Cricket trying to get off the ground in 2021 or 2022, held a schedule of exhibition matches in September and October featuring 24 teams from across the United States. Teams were aligned in a six-team Eastern conference and six three-team Western (Southern California), Western (Bay Area), Central (Midwest), Central (Texas), South (Florida) and South (Georgia) conferences.

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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