Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
January 25, 2021 - National Women's Hockey League (NWHL)
American Association: The new ownership of the American Association's Kansas City (KS) T-Bones have renamed the team the Kansas City Monarchs as part of a long-term licensing agreement with the Negro League Baseball Museum, which owns the rights to the Monarchs name. The Kansas City Monarchs played from 1920 to 1965 and were the longest-running team in the former Negro leagues.
Pioneer League: The Northern Colorado Owz (Windsor) of the independent Pioneer League officially announced this week the team will not start play until the 2022 season due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). With the switch of the advanced Rookie-level Pioneer League from an affiliated league to an independent MLB Partner League in November, the league's Orem (UT) Owlz were relocated to a new complex under construction in Windsor.
Southern League: With the Double-A Southern League's Jackson (TN) Generals not being offered an MLB affiliation under the recent restructuring of Minor League Baseball, the city of Jackson has asked the team to vacate the stadium by February 15, 2021. The owner of the Generals claims the team has not officially withdrawn from the Southern League, even though it has no MLB affiliation, and will announce plans in the near future for maintaining professional baseball in Jackson. The Southern League is expected to operate with eight teams after losing the Generals' affiliation and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp moving up to the Triple-A level.
Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): Mexico's Pacific Coast Basketball League known as the CIBACOPA, which typically plays a March-to-May season, has entered into a collaboration alliance with Mexico's top basketball league known as the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto (LNBP) and the Liga de Basquetbol Estatal de Chihuahua (Chihuahua State Basketball League). Under the alliance, the leagues will work together to strengthen and organize basketball in Mexico and align the playing calendars of the leagues. The CIBACOPA is looking at starting its 2021 season in May.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The organizer of the seven-team professional CEBL, which traditionally plays a May to August season, would like to expand in the future with the cities of Montreal, Calgary, Quebec City and Winnipeg mentioned as possibilities.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a team called the Nebraska Blizzards (Omaha) will be added to the South Central Division as a 2021-22 expansion team.
American Western Football Conference: The lower-level professional AWFC announced its 2021 regular season will run from May 8 through August 14, 2021 with five teams each playing a 12-game schedule. The AWFC did not play a 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks (Wenatchee, WA) and Idaho Horsemen (Nampa) are the only teams returning from the 2019 season and are joined by new teams called the Oregon High Desert Storm (Redmond), Tri-City Rush (Kennewick, WA) and Yakima (WA) Canines. Yakima was added as a 2020 expansion team but never started play since the season was cancelled, while Oregon and Tri-City were added for 2021.
ECHL: The National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens officially announced a three-year affiliation agreement with the ECHL's 2021-22 expansion team in Trois-Rivieres (Quebec). The Canadiens also have the Quebec-based Laval Rocket as their American Hockey League affiliate.
United States Premier Hockey League: The USPHL recently announced an expansion team based in Hershey (PA) will start play next season in the Tier-III USPHL Premier Division.
National Women's Hockey League: The six-team NWHL started its shortened two-week 2020-21 season this week with teams each playing five games and the playoffs at one arena in Lake Placid (NY) from January 23 through February 5, 2021. The expansion Toronto Six joins the league's five returning teams from last season called the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts (Amherst, NY), Connecticut Whale (Danbury), Metropolitan Riveters (Monmouth Junction, NJ) and Minnesota Whitecaps (St. Paul).
Western Hockey League: In order to play some type of 2020-21 season, the WHL is considering a bubble format with teams playing only intra-divisional games.
Canadian Premier League: The eight-team professional CPL announced its intention to start the 2021 season on May 22, 2021 with all teams playing a full 28-game schedule. The CPL played with seven teams in its inaugural 2019 season, which was split into a 10-game Spring Season and an 18-game Fall Season. The league added the Atletico Ottawa club for 2020, but was forced to play a shortened season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. All teams played a seven-game schedule without fans in August and September at one location in Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island).
Liga de Balompié Mexicano: After starting its inaugural 2020-21 season with 17 teams back in October, Mexico's new professional LBM is down to only 8 teams to finish the season with the recent loss of teams called the Halcones de Zapopan and Mexico City's Atletico Capitalino.
National Women's Soccer League: The NWSL's new Kansas City expansion team, which assumed all player rights of the former Utah Royals FC, will be known as Kansas City NWSL, or Kansas City, for the 2021 season and use the "KC" crest as its logo while a permanent name for the team is developed.
USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Division-II professional USL Championship league announced that teams will be allowed flexible starts to the season anywhere between April 24 to May 15, 2021. Teams will be aligned in four regional divisions and each play a 32-game schedule. The league's schedule and alignment will be announced at a future date. The league operated with 35 teams last season, but now lists 31 teams after the loss of the Philadelphia Union II, Portland Timbers 2, Reno 1868 FC, St. Louis FC and North Carolina FC, and the addition of the Oakland Roots SC.
USL League Two (United Soccer League): The pre-professional USL League Two announced the FC Wichita and FC Motown (Morristown, NJ) have joined the league from the National Premier Soccer League. FC Motown will start play in 2021, but FC Wichita has yet to decide whether the team will start play in 2021 or 2022. The league also announced the FC Bascome Bermuda will delay its start until the 2022 season due to international travel restrictions related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
United Women's Soccer: The pro-am UWS announced the FC Wichita has been added as a fifth team to the league's new Central Conference for the 2021 season. The reserve UWS League Two announced the New England FC (Mendon, MA) has joined the 2021 New England Conference; the Steel United (Basking Ridge, NJ) has joined the 2021 Northeast Conference; and the FC Midland (Michigan) has been added to the 2021 Great Lakes Conference.
Major League Rugby: The professional MLR announced its Dallas Jackals expansion team will not start as planned in the 2021 season, but will wait until 2022 to start play due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Last month, the MLR announced its fourth season would start on March 20, 2021 with 13 teams aligned in a six-team Eastern Conference and a seven-team Western Conference. The MLR operated with 12 teams in a 2020 season that was cancelled after only a few games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since then, the Glendale-based Colorado Raptors of the Western Conference withdrew from the league and two new teams, the Dallas Jackals and Los Angeles Giltinis, were added to the conference. The MLR still plans to start play on March 21 with 12 teams.
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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