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 American Hockey League

Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 26, 2021 - American Hockey League (AHL)


BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League has confirmed a new Staten Island (NY) team will join the league for the 2022 season. Staten Island recently lost the affiliated Staten Island Yankees team from the former Class-A short-season New York-Penn League, which was shut down in late 2020 as part of the restructuring of Minor League Baseball.

American Association: After starting the 2021 season on the road and playing home games in Jackson (TN), the independent American Association's Winnipeg Goldeyes have received permission to return home and play their remaining 19 home games in Winnipeg starting August 3, 2021.

Frontier League: The independent Frontier League's travel-only team called Equipe Quebec (Team Quebec), which has been playing 2021 games only in the United States and consists of players from the league's Quebec-based Trois-Rivieres Aigles and Quebec Capitales (Quebec City) teams, has been granted permission to return to Quebec for home games. The remaining 21 home games on the team's schedule will be split between Trois-Rivieres and Quebec City starting July 30, 2021.

Major League Baseball: The MLB's Cleveland Indians announced the team will be renamed the Cleveland Guardians after the 2021 season. The team has been known as the Indians since the 1915 season. The Oakland city council approved a term sheet for a proposed new baseball stadium in the city, but it included changes that the Oakland A's rejected. Officials with the Oakland A's made a fourth trip to Las Vegas this week to consider potential sites for a new stadium, if it is decided to relocate the team.

Triple-A East League: After playing home games in Trenton (NJ) for the 2021 season, the Buffalo Bisons of the Triple-A East league will return to Buffalo for 23 home games starting August 10, 2021.

BASKETBALL

The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced the addition of the Phoenix-based Arizona HEET (Help Encourage Excellence Together) as a 2022 expansion team. The TBL is finishing up its 2021 season that had 29 participating teams. The league plans to have 48 teams for the 2022 season..

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA confirmed it will add a Canadian team next season in St. John's (Newfoundland). This is the team that will replace the St. John's Edge of the National Basketball League of Canada that lost its lease at the city's Mile One Centre.

Women's Universal Basketball Association: The WUBA started the National Super League portion of its schedule last month as a summertime off-season league for international players. The WUBA lists 21 teams in Western, Southern and Heartland conferences, but only the ten-team California-based Western Conference has started play and is listed on the schedule running through August 7, 2021. The WUBA held its 12-team National League for rookie and non-professional players this past fall.

BIG3 League: The 12-team BIG3 professional 3-on-3 touring basketball league announced its next three events scheduled for New Orleans will be moved due to a spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases near that city. Next weekend's event will be moved to Dallas with the following two events to be moved to yet-to-be-named Midwestern cities.

FOOTBALL

Championship Indoor Football: The CIF's new Billings (MT) team announced it will be called the Billings Outlaws when it starts play in the 2022 season. Billings had the Billings Thunderbolts in the original Indoor Football League for one season (2000). The team moved to the National Indoor Football League for six seasons (2001-06), first as the Billings Outlaws (2001-04), then as the Billings Mavericks (2005), and again as the Billings Outlaws (2006). The Outlaws team moved to the United Indoor Football league for two seasons (2007-08) and became part of a newer version of the Indoor Football League (IFL) before folding after two seasons (2009-10) in the IFL. Another IFL team called the Billings Wolves played two seasons (2015-16) before folding.

National Arena League: The owner of the league's West Virginia Roughriders (Wheeling) sponsored an alumni exhibition game last weekend and stated the team is committed to the NAL and a return in 2022. The West Virginia Roughriders last played in the 2019 American Arena League and moved to the NAL for a 2020 season that was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Roughriders voluntarily sat out the 2021 season and the team was put up for sale, but now the team plans to make an official announcement in early December about its return for the 2022 season.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The AHL announced its 2021-22 schedule that will feature 31 teams all affiliated with National Hockey League teams. The NHL's 32nd team called the Seattle Kraken will share the AHL's Charlotte Checkers affiliate with the NHL's Florida Panthers this season since the Kraken's AHL arena in the Palm Springs area will not be ready until next year. The nine Pacific Division teams will play 68 games and other teams will play either 72 or 76 games. The three teams-Springfield (MA) Thunderbirds, Charlotte Checkers and Milwaukee Admirals-that sat out last season will return. The Utica (NY) Comets relocated to become the Abbottsford Canucks (British Columbia), while the Binghamton (NY) Devils relocated to become a new version of the Utica Comets. Also, the Bridgeport (CT) Sound Tigers were renamed the Bridgeport Islanders.

ECHL: The owner of the ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers (St. John's) is in a dispute with the city of St. John's over the lease on its arena, which was also used by the St. John's Edge team in the National Basketball League of Canada, and stated the ECHL team could be looking for a new home. During lease negotiations for the Growlers, the owner had agreed to purchase the St. John's Edge and pay off certain outstanding debt to help the city, but the city then shut out the Edge by signing a new arena lease with owners of a team in the American Basketball Association. The ECHL's Kalamazoo (MI) Wings announced a new affiliation with the National Hockey League's Columbus Blue Jackets and the American Hockey League's Cleveland Monsters starting with the 2021-22 season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: The three Canadian MLS teams-Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Toronto FC and CF Montreal-are all returning to their respective cities to play home games next month. All teams started their 2021 seasons as road teams due to travel restrictions between the United States and Canada with Vancouver playing home games in Salt Lake City, Toronto playing home games in Orlando, and Montreal playing home game in Fort Lauderdale. Toronto FC already hosted two home games in Toronto last week, while Montreal hosted a home game in Montreal last weekend.

United Women's Soccer: The owner of the Lansing United team in the pro-am UWS announced the recently completed 2021 season was the team's last season in the UWS or any other league.

Women's Premier Soccer League: The elite-level WPSL announced a Panama City-based team called the Florida Roots FC (Futbol Club) will join the league for the 2022 season.

USL Championship (United Soccer League): With a Major League Soccer expansion team coming to Charlotte next season, the owner of the Charlotte Independence in the Division-II professional USL Championship is considering selling the USL Championship team and starting a new team in the Division-III professional USL League One, or moving the Independence to the USL League One. There is a lot of uncertainty with several MLS teams planning to move their lower-level affiliated teams from the USL to the new MLS development league that is to start next season. With the MLS and USL relationship starting to dissolve, the USL is reported to have proposed implementing promotion and relegation between the USL Championship and USL League One starting in 2026 with a possible change from the spring-fall schedule to the European fall-spring schedule that includes a winter break.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The city of Portland (ME) failed to approve plans submitted by a group trying to build a new soccer stadium for a Division-III professional USL League One team. The group identified two potential sites but the city wants more information. The USL League One team was approved on condition of having a suitable stadium and hopes to start play in 2023.

OTHER

Athletes Unlimited - Lacrosse League: The Athletes Unlimited four-team professional women's field lacrosse league started its inaugural five-week 2021 season last weekend with all games to be played at Maureen Hendricks Field (formerly Maryland SoccerPlex) in Germantown (MD) through August 22, 2021. Similar to the Athletes Unlimited women's softball and volleyball leagues, players earn individual points during games and the top four players will serve as captains and draft the four teams for the next week. Athletes Unlimited held the first season of its softball league in Chicago this past summer and plans to return in 2021. Athletes Unlimited recently completed the first season of its volleyball league in Dallas and already announced a return for a 2022 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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