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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 4, 2021 - NBA G League (G League)


BASEBALL American Association: The formerly independent American Association, which is now a Partner League of Major League Baseball (MLB), announced a partnership with the Australian Baseball League (ABL). This agreement will have the two leagues collaborate on marketing and the exchange of personnel. The ABL has been in operation since its 2010-11 season and received MLB financial support for its first six seasons. Traditionally, the ABL plays a November through February season, but due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) the ABL's 2020-21 season started last week with only six of the eight teams participating.

California Winter League: The developmental CWL, which is the official winter league of the Frontier League, plans to operate its seventh season from January 18 through February 15, 2021. All CWL games are played at a complex in Palm Springs (CA). The league is a showcase for players trying to find a spot on a Frontier League team or other professional teams that might be scouting the CWL season. The CWL operated with eight teams in its 2020 season.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association G-League: The NBA G-League is reported to be considering a month-long 2021 bubble season with all games played at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World in Orlando. This is the same complex that was used by the NBA to complete its 2019-20 season. The season would start on February 8, 2021 with 18 teams playing 12 to 15 games. Only 17 of the 28 active G-League teams, plus the league's select Ignite team, are expected to participate in the season.

The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced its 34th team and 22nd expansion team since the end of a shortened 2020 season will be called the Shreveport Mavericks. This will be the rebirth of a former Mavericks team with which the TBL team's general manager/coach was involved. The Beaumont-based Southeast Texas Mavericks (2009-11), formerly the Southeast Texas Mustangs (2008-09), were a successful American Basketball Association team. After a failed attempt to join the National Basketball Association's D-League (now the G-League), the Mavericks returned for two more successful ABA seasons (2013-15) as the Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks. The team relocated to Owensboro and switched to the Premier Basketball League as the Kentucky Mavericks for the 2016 and 2017 seasons before shutting down operations.

Florida Basketball Association: The semi-pro FBA announced a new team called the Clermont Crocodiles (Crocs) has been added as a 2021 expansion team. The FBA now lists eight member teams.

FOOTBALL

The Spring League: The TSL elite professional football development league recently completed a short fall season involving six teams (Generals, Aviators, Conquerors, Jousters, Alphas and Blues) playing all games at San Antonio's Alamodome. Originally, the fall season was scheduled to be played in Las Vegas. The planned four-week season started October 27, 2020, but the fourth week scheduled for November 17 had to be cancelled due to effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Each team ended up playing three games and the top two teams participated in a 2020 TSL 2020 Championship game that was held in Orlando on December 15, 2020. The TSL holds various scrimmages and events to showcase talent to the National Football League and Canadian Football League. Last year, the TSL partnered with the XFL to scout talent and to test potential rules and in-game technology.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The 31-team AHL is still working out details on a 2020-21 season with its partner National Hockey League teams and reports it is still trying to start play on February 5, 2021.

Southern Professional Hockey League: The minor league SPHL started its 2020-21 season this week with only five of its ten teams participating in the season. The Birmingham Bulls, Huntsville Havoc, Knoxville Ice Bears, Macon Mayhem and Pensacola Ice Flyers will each play a shorter 42-game schedule. The Evansville Thunderbolts, Fayetteville Marksmen, Peoria Rivermen, Quad City Storm and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs are voluntarily sitting out the 2020-21 season due to restrictions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Federal Prospects Hockey League: The FPHL announced it has pushed back the start of its 2020-21 season from January 15 to February 3, 2021. The FPHL had ten teams last season, but is down to seven teams aligned in a three-team Eastern Division and a four-team Western Division. The FPHL also stated the Danbury (CT) Hat Tricks will delay the start of their season due to state restrictions from the coronavirus (COVID-19). Since last season the league's Battle Creek Rumble Bees and Mentor (OH) Ice Breakers folded. The league added the new Motor City Rockers (Fraser, MI), but the Rockers and the Delaware Thunder decided to voluntarily sit out the entire 2020-21 season.

SOCCER

National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA's Chicago expansion team is down to 8 nickname finalists as part of a Moniker Madness bracket that started with 64 proposed team names. The final eight names are the Chicago Athletic Club, Second City FC, Point Chicago, Chicago Bricklayers, Chicago Sting, Chicago Railmen, Chicago House and Elevated Chicago. Four other NISA expansion teams called New Amsterdam FC (New York City), New Jersey Teamsters FC (Bayonne), Flower City Union (Rochester, NY) and Maryland Bobcats FC (Baltimore) were announced in 2020 and the league plans to announce additional applicants in early 2021.

Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL started its 2020-21 season schedule this weekend with 11 teams all aligned in one table for the standings. The league operated with 17 teams last season, but five teams called the Mesquite (TX) Outlaws, Turlock Cal Express, Milwaukee Wave, and Mexico's Soles de Sonora and Monterrey Flash are voluntarily sitting out the 2020-21 season and will remain MASL members. The Orlando SeaWolves team, which struggled in the 2019-20 season and was taken control of by the MASL, did not return for the 2020-21 season. Due to the possible effects and restrictions from the coronavirus (COVID-19), the MASL has only announced its schedule through January 2021. The MASL also announced the establishment of an official arena soccer pyramid with the developmental Major Arena Soccer League 2 (M2) and the new amateur-level Major Arena Soccer League 3 (M3). Although it is a separate entity under different management, the amateur-level Premier Arena Soccer League will cooperate with the M2 and MASL in the new arena soccer pyramid.

Major Arena Soccer League 2: The MASL 2, or M2, will not start its next season until the late spring or early summer of 2021 due to the uncertainties of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The M2 will try to fill in the gap with various regional tournaments in markets where teams are allowed to operate. The M2 and its teams called the Colorado Inferno FC and Amarillo Bombers FC will sponsor a Rocky Mountain Invitational tournament starting early February 21. This will feature teams from the M2, the amateur Major Arena Soccer League 3 (M3) and the amateur Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL). The M3 started play in December with a Heartland Invitational tournament featuring the Omaha Kings, Wichita Wings II, Sunflower State FC (Kansas City, KS) and the Springfield (MO) Demize. The PASL hopes to start its 2020-21 season of men's and women's competition on January 16, 2021. OTHER

Major Series League: The owner of the Brampton Excelsiors, a longtime member of Canada's six-team Ontario-based Senior-A MSL, announced plans in November to move the indoor (box lacrosse) team about 90 miles north to Owen Sound for the league's next spring-summer season, which usually runs from late May through July. Since purchasing the Excelsiors in 2018, the team's owner also purchased the Owen Sound North Stars Senior-B indoor lacrosse team. Although it has yet to receive official approval from the Ontario Lacrosse Association, the relocation is expected to move forward. As part of the relocation, the Excelsiors name is expected to remain in Brampton for use by a new MSL franchise, should a new owner apply for a franchise. Also, the league's Six Nation Chiefs (Hagersville) team announced in November the team will play in 2021, if there is a season, but the future of the team is uncertain beyond next season due to poor attendance and a lack of major sponsors. One problem the league will face in 2021 is that the professional indoor National Lacrosse League (NLL), which usually operates from late December through April, has pushed its 2021 season start to April due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Because of the overlap of the NLL's season with the Senior-A indoor season, the MSL will not be able to stock their team rosters with NLL players that typically compete in the MSL during the NLL off-season. The NLL is expected to return to its traditional winter-spring schedule for 2021-22.

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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