Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
December 28, 2020 - NBA G League (G League)
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League announced a new team called the Colorado Springs SnowSox has been added for the league's 2021 season that will run from early June to early August. The SnowSox will be part of the league's eight-team Mountain Division that has other teams in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Kansas. The league also has a Pacific Division consisting of six California-based teams.
Southern League: The Knox County (TN) Commission voted to approve a sports authority that could allow construction of a new ballpark in Knoxville and see the move of the Double-A Southern League's Tennessee Smokies from its current home in Kodak (TN), about 20 mile east of Knoxville. The Smokies were based in Knoxville since 1972 and known as the Knoxville Smokies from 1993 to 1999 until moving to Kodak as the Tennessee Smokies for the 2000 season. The lease at Smokies Stadium expires in 2024.
California League: As part of the deal to persuade the Fresno Grizzlies to move from the Triple-A Pacific Coast League to the low Class-A California League and to avoid possible litigation, Major League Baseball has guaranteed it will keep professional baseball in the city through the 2036 season and it will try to bring Triple-A or Double-A baseball back to the city in the future.
National Basketball Association: The 30-team NBA started its 2020-21 season this week with all teams playing games at their home arenas, except the Toronto Raptors who will play in Tampa. Due to varying coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, only six teams will start the season with limited fans in attendance while the other teams start play without fans. Each team will play a 72-game season. The NBA commissioner stated that expansion to 32 teams could be considered in the future as a means of increasing league revenue, but there are concerns with a possible dilution of talent and lack of competitiveness among teams. Seattle, which lost the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season, is considered the frontrunner for expansion and a Seattle arena being renovated for a National Hockey League expansion team could also host an NBA team. Las Vegas has expressed interest in an NBA expansion team, while Kansas City, Anaheim and other cities have been mentioned for possible NBA expansion.
National Basketball Association G-League: The NBA G-League is reported to be considering the home arena of the league's College Park Skyhawks in the Atlanta area to host a shortened 2020-21 season. It looks like 17 of the 29 G-League teams, plus the league's select Ignite team, will each play a 12-game schedule starting in early February. Non-participating teams could loan players to other teams, while some players from non-participating teams could be made available for a player draft.
Women's American Basketball Association: The semi-pro WNBA recently announced two expansion teams called the Augusta (GA) Phoenix and Florida All Stars (Gainesville) will be part of the 2021 season. The league states it currently has 28 teams across the United States.
The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced its 33rd team and 21st expansion team since the end of a shortened 2020 season will be called the Houston Push. The league will start its fourth season on April 9, 2021. This is later than previous seasons that started in January.
Maximum Basketball League: The semi-pro MBL recently removed two Louisville-based teams called the Kentucky Rebels and Derby City Flash from the league due to violation of league standards.
American Patriot League: The proposed APL, which has been trying to get off the ground as a new springtime outdoor professional football league since 2018, recently announced it will postpone the start of its inaugural season until the spring of 2022 due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The APL wants to start with 8 teams but says that could grow to 12 teams based on new interest in the league. The APL lists seven of the eight team locations as Daytona Beach, Mobile, Shreveport, Sacramento, Canton, Houston and Ypsilanti (MI).
National Hockey League: The 31-team NHL announced it will start a 56-game season on January 13, 2021. Teams will play games in home arenas without fans at the start of the season and games could move to neutral sites depending on the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in each city. Teams will only play games against teams in their division. The seven Canadian teams will be placed in a North Division, while the United States teams will be aligned in regional eight-team West, East and Central divisions.
Ontario Hockey League: The 20-team major-junior OHL, which has 17 teams in Canada and 3 teams in the United States, announced it will have to further delay the start of the 2020-21 season from its proposed start date of February 4, 2021 due to a 28-day provincial lock-down from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The 18-team QMJHL has postponed regular-season games until January 22, 2021. When play resumes, the 12 Quebec-based teams in the league will play games as part of Protected Environment events in one of four QMJHL cities (Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan). The league plans to reevaluate the situation with the six-team Maritime Division, but is expecting games between those teams to resume on January 21. The QMJHL also announced the 2020-21 season standings will be based on a percentage of wins and losses and not points.
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 a team called the PWHPA All-Stars will participate in games against men's junior-hockey teams as part of the United Premier Junior Hockey League's two-week "Hub City Tampa" event next month. The USPHL created the event at one location in Tampa to allow its teams in the Tier-II National Collegiate Development Conference and Tier-III USPHL Premier and Elite divisions to continue playing in a safe environment. The women's team will consist of players from the PWHPA teams based out of the organization's Minnesota and New Hampshire regional training hubs.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The elite-level WPSL announced two new teams called the Chicago Dutch Lions FC and the Vermont Fusion (Manchester) have joined the league for the 2021 season. The Dutch Lions organization has two other WPSL teams called the Dayton (OH) Dutch Lions FC and the Florida Gulf Coast Dutch Lions FC (Cape Coral).
United Women's Soccer: The elite-level pro-am UWS announced the Tulsa-based Side FC 92 will add a First Division team to the Southwest Conference and also add a reserve UWS League Two team for the 2021 season. The UWS announced a new four-team New England Conference has been added to the reserve UWS League Two for 2021. The Boston-based Upper 90 Soccer Academy team will join three new UWS League Two started by the UWS First Division's New England Mutiny (Springfield, MA), Connecticut Fusion (Farmington) and Worcester (MA) Smiles. The First Division Detroit FC will add a UWS League Two team to the Great Lakes Conference that now grows to eight teams for 2021.
United Premier Soccer League: The men's amateur pro-development UPSL announced it will start an official nationwide women's league with play starting in May 2021. The UPSL started as a regional California-based league in 2011 and has grown to over 200 teams in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Western Ultimate League: The Seattle Cascades team in the womxn's WUL announced a change of the team's name to the Seattle Tempest. The Cascades were to be one of seven teams in the inaugural 2020 season of the WUL ultimate frisbee league, but it was forced to cancel the inaugural 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Each WUL team was to have played four to six games from March 21 to May 9, 2020. The league is committed to returning in 2021 for its first 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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NBA G League Stories from December 28, 2020
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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