Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
March 22, 2021 - Major League Rugby (MLR)
Appalachian League: The Danville (VA) team in the new summer-collegiate Appalachian League will be called the Danville Otterbots when it starts play in the 2021 season. The city most recently had the Danville Braves in the former advanced Rookie-level Appalachian League where teams were owned by MLB clubs. As part of MLB's restructuring of Minor League Baseball, the Appalachian League was converted to a summer-collegiate league under the MLB Prospect Development Pipeline. All ten of the markets in the former league moved to the new league with each team to take a new nickname.
Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League: The summer-collegiate PGCBL has grown to 16 teams for the 2021 season with five-team East and Central divisions and a six-team West division. The Niagara Power (Niagara Falls, NY) has joined from the New York Collegiate Baseball League, along with new teams called the Auburn (NY) Doubledays and Batavia (NY) Muckdogs. Auburn and Batavia had teams by the same names as longtime members of the former Class-A short-season New York-Penn League, which was eliminated with the recent restructuring of Minor League Baseball.
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League is hosting its annual Pecos Spring League this month with all games played at a complex in the Houston area. This season, the league has only two official teams called the Salina Stockade and the Galveston Sea Lions that are playing games against each other and against other local teams (Houston Hot Shots, Houston Apollos, Houston Bombers, Houston Aztecas) and international teams (Team Cuba and Los Peloteros of Mexico).
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced two more teams called the Oceanside (CA) Geniuses and the Chicago-based Grooming Champions have been added as expansion teams for the 2021-22 season. The ABA stated it plans to have over 200 participating teams next season.
Liga Mexicana de Baloncesto Profesional Femenil: Mexico's top women's basketball league known as the LMBPF announced it will operate with ten teams for its 2021 season that will start next weekend and run through May 2021. The teams are aligned in five-team Mexicana and Nacional divisions. Gone from the last season are the Gladiadoras de San Luis PotosÃ, Reales de Fresnillo and Mustangs de Saltillo. The league added new teams called the Algodoneras de la Comarca and Racers de Saltillo, while the AZTKS del Estado de México returned after not playing in 2020.
American Arena League: The AAL started its 2021 season last weekend and it has posted a tentative schedule through June 2021. The AAL lists 16 teams aligned in a seven-team East, a five-team Mid West and four-team Texas-based West. The schedule includes some non-league games and does not list any games for the Nashville-based Music City Fire.
Fan Controlled Football: The new 7-on-7 indoor fan-interactive FCF, which is the first fan-controlled professional sports league with fans electronically calling plays, completed its short inaugural 2021 season this weekend with four teams called the Zappers, Wild Aces, Beasts and Glacier Boyz. Each team played four games over four weekends in February with a four-team playoff held on March 14 and a championship game on March 20. All games were played at the Infinite Energy Arena in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth.
Women's Football Alliance: After sitting out the 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the full-contact WFA is planning for a 2021 season to run from early May through June. The WFA currently lists 9 Division 1 teams, 15 Division 2 teams and 39 Division 3 teams.
Ontario Hockey League: The 20-team OHL, which is the only one of the three major-junior hockey leagues that has yet to start play this season, recently received some financial assistance from the Ontario government. The OHL is still trying to work out details to return for a short season with games possibly played in hub cities.
Professional Women's Hockey Players Association: The National Hockey League's St. Louis Blues announced they will host a PWHPA 2021 Dream Gap Tour event next month in St. Louis. The games will involve the PWHPA's Minnesota-based Team Addidas and New Hampshire-based Team Women's Sports Foundation. The two teams participated in earlier tour events hosted by the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers. The NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs have also agreed to host a future tour event.
North American Hockey League: With the Amarillo Bulls of the Tier-II junior-level NAHL moving to Mason City (IA) next season, there are already discussions about obtaining a replacement team for the Amarillo market, possibly by next season.
Major Arena Soccer League 2: The MASL 2 recently announced the addition of the new Cleveland Crunch team to the league and the team already played two games this weekend. The league recently announced the RGV Barracudas FC (Rio Grande Valley/Hidalgo, TX) will return next season as part of the 2021-22 MASL 2 season.
National Independent Soccer Association: The professional Division-III NISA announced the schedule for its 2021 Spring Season that will feature nine teams each playing an eight-game schedule from May 1 to June 26, 2021. These same nine teams will participate in the previously announced week-long Legends Cup tournament in Chattanooga (TN) next month.
National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL's previously announced 2022 expansion team for Sacramento could be in jeopardy and that ownership group is reported to be interested in moving the team to San Diego. The head of the Sacramento NWSL expansion group recently pulled out of the effort to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to Sacramento for the 2023 season.
USL Championship (United Soccer League): A private economic development group is trying to organize an ownership group to bring a professional Division-II USL Championship team to Grand Rapids (MI). Once the ownership group is formed, it will work toward financing and constructing a new 7,500-seat soccer stadium.
USL League One (United Soccer League): The professional Division-III USL League One announced it will start its 2021 season on April 10. The league operated a shortened 2020 season with 11 teams, but the Orlando City B dropped out after the season. The league now has 12 teams with the addition of the North Carolina FC from the USL Championship and the return of the Toronto FC II team that sat out last season.
Women's Premier Soccer League: The elite-level WPSL announced plans to start a WPSL U-21 League this summer. Many of the WPSL's current teams are expected to field U-21 teams, but the league is also opening applications to non-WPSL teams. The U-21 season will run from mid-May to late July.
Major League Rugby: The professional MLR started its fourth season this weekend with 12 teams aligned in six-team Eastern and Western Conferences. 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 Dallas Jackals then announced they would push back its start until the 2022 season. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, the league's Toronto Arrows will start the season playing its home schedule in Atlanta, while the league's San Diego Legion will start by playing its 2021 home schedule in Las Vegas. The 2021 regular season runs until mid-July.
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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