Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
June 7, 2021 - United States Football League (USFL)
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League started its 2021 season this week with 14 teams aligned in an eight-team Pacific Division, a four-team Mountain North Division and a four-team Mountain South Division. Each team is to play a 62-game season through the first week of August. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league's 2020 season consisted of only four teams each playing a 30-game schedule at a complex in the Houston area. Of the 12 teams in the league's last full season of 2019, the White Sands Pupfish (Alamogordo, NM), California City Whiptails and High Desert Yardbirds (Adelanto, CA) did not return. The Martinez (CA) Sturgeon and San Rafael (CA) Pacifics, formerly of the Pacific Association, were added prior to the cancelled 2020 season, while the Colorado Snow Sox, Santa Cruz (CA) Seaweed and Salina (KS) Stockade were added prior to the 2021 season. The Salina Stockade returns after playing in the league's 2016 and 2020 seasons and will play 45 of its games on the road due to limited availability of its home ballpark. The Salina Stockade was a Pecos League-operated travel-only team in the 2017 Can-Am League, the 2018 American Association and the 2019 Pacific Association. Two other California-based teams called the Lancaster Sound Breakers and Pittsburg Anchors were proposed for the 2021 season but never materialized.
Appalachian League: The former advanced Rookie-level Appalachian League, which was converted to a summer-collegiate league under the Major League Baseball's Prospect Development Pipeline, started its inaugural 2021 season with ten teams each playing a 54-game schedule. The league has kept the same markets, but each team has a new name. The East Division includes the Bluefield (VA) Ridge Runners (was Blue Jays), Burlington (NC) Sock Puppets (was Royals), Danville (VA) Otterbots (was Braves), Princeton (WV) Whistlepigs (was Rays) and Pulaski (VA) River Turtles (was Yankees). The West Division consists of the Bristol (VA) Stateliners (was Pirates), Elizabethton (TN) River Riders (was Twins), Greeneville (TN) Flyboys (was Astros), Johnson City (TN) Doughboys (was Cardinals) and the Kingsport (TN) Axmen (was Mets).
American Association: The owner of the American Association's Winnipeg Goldeyes has come to an agreement with the city of Jackson (TN) that will allow the team to play its 2021 home games in the city. The Goldeyes had reached a ballpark agreement with the owner of the Jackson Generals, a former Double-A Southern League team that lost its affiliation with Major League Baseball, to use The Ballpark at Jackson, but the city said that agreement was not valid since the Generals had no ballpark rights once they lost their affiliation and it was trying to force the Generals departure.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced an Augusta-based team called the Georgia Soul has been added as a 2021-22 expansion team.
Global Women's Basketball Association: After cancelling its 2020 summertime season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some of the GWBA teams have posted 2021 schedules with games set for June, July and early August. The schedules include GWBA teams called the St. Louis Surge, Columbus Cardinals, Wisconsin Glo (Oshkosh), Detroit Dodgers and Flint Monarchs, along with non-league games.
The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced the addition of two new Texas-based teams called the Beaumont Panthers and the Rockwall 7ers for the 2022 season. The TBL is currently playing its 2021 spring-summer season with 29 teams aligned in 4 regional divisions.
Canadian Football League: The CFL's Edmonton Football Team, formerly known as the Edmonton Eskimos, has selected the Edmonton Elks as the team's new nickname. The nicknames under consideration in the rebranding process included the Elkhounds, Elk, Eagles, Eclipse, Elements, Evergolds and Evergreens, while the Elks and Energy were later trademarked. The "Elk" name was the overwhelming nickname choice, but the team decided to add an "s" to the name.
United States Football League: The head of The Spring League developmental football league is partnering with Fox Sports to start a new eight-team version of the professional USFL in the spring of 2022. The original spring-summer USFL operated for three seasons (1983-85), but disbanded after a failed attempt to move to a 1986 fall schedule in direct competition with the National Football League. No team locations have been announced for the new USFL, but the league has retained rights to some of the team names from the previous USFL. In 2008, another group failed in an attempt to revive the USFL with various delayed start dates during the period of 2010 to 2013. Attempts were then made to start the USFL as a developmental league in 2014 to 2016, but these efforts never got off the ground.
American Hockey League: The AHL's new Palm Springs (CA) area team, which will be the affiliate for the National Hockey League's 2021-22 expansion team called the Seattle Kraken, broke ground this week on its new 10,000-seat Coachella Valley Arena that is expected to be ready for the 2022-23 season. The yet-to-be-named team trademarked six names: Firebirds, Dragons, Sun, Eagles, Hawks and Falcons.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The QMJHL announced its 2021-22 season schedule that will feature all 18 teams playing 68 games against teams in all three divisions. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions this past season, the 12 Quebec-based teams played games within the six-team East and West divisions, and the 6 Maritimes teams played regular-season games within the Maritimes Division.
North American 3 Hockey League: With the owner of the Tier-III junior-level NA3HL's Mason City-based North Iowa Bulls purchasing the Tier-II North American Hockey League's Amarillo Bulls and moving that team to Mason City, the North Iowa Bulls will move up to the NAHL for the 2021-22 season and a new NA3HL team called the Mason City Toros will be formed for the 2021-22 season.
Liga de Balompié Mexicano: Mexico's professional LBM soccer league, which operates outside the Mexican Football Federation, announced its second season will start on July 23, 2021. The LBM had only 7 of 17 teams left by the end of its inaugural 2020-21 season and has since come under new management. In April, the LBM announced a team called the Chapulineros de Oaxaca has been added for 2021.
USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Sacramento Republic FC of the Division-III USL Championship league introduced a third jersey for the 2021 season featuring the chest of a quail, the state bird of California and the team's unofficial nickname since 2016. As part of an April Fool's Day joke in 2016, the team announced it was adopting a new secondary logo with two California quails and that Quails would be the team's new name. Fans have been referring to the team as the Quails since the initial joke. Major League Soccer Division-III League: The MLS is reported to be developing an in-house Division-III professional league to be used for MLS affiliated teams and bridge the gap between academy teams and the top-tier teams. Currently, 16 of the 27 MLS teams have affiliates in the United Soccer League-11 in the Division-II USL Championship and 5 in the Division-III USL League One.
Canadian Premier League: Canada's eight-team Division-II professional CPL announced it will start the 2021 season with a four-week 32-game event called "The Kickoff" in Winnipeg (Manitoba), home of the league's Valour FC. The league will reevaluate the situation next month to see if it will be able to move games to home markets or continue a single-site season. The CPL played a shortened 2020 schedule in Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island).
Interstate Box Lacrosse Association: The semi-pro IBLA will have17 regions each with a Regional Box Lacrosse League (RBLL) in 2021. New RBLLs were added in Maryland, Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Empire South (New York) for 2021. Teams play games within their RBLL during the summer and league winners participate in a season-ending National Championship at one location in the fall.
Premier Lacrosse League: The professional tour-based field lacrosse PLL started its 2021 season this weekend with eight teams. The season will feature seven regular-season stops in Boston (Foxborough), Atlanta, Baltimore, Long Island, Minneapolis, Colorado Springs and Albany (NY); an All-Star weekend in San Jose; and a three-weekend playoff in Salt Lake City, Philadelphia and Washington (DC). Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic last season, the PLL played a 16-day PLL Championship Series in Salt Lake City during July and August 2020 with seven teams. During the off-season, the PLL and the other field lacrosse league known as Major League Lacrosse (MLL) entered into a merger with the MLL now operating under the PLL format. The PLL added an eighth team called the Cannons for the 2021 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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United States Football League Stories from June 7, 2021
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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