Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 6, 2021 - Atlantic League (AtL)
Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League announced a yet-to-be-named expansion team based in Hagerstown (MD) will join the league for the 2023 season. The Maryland Stadium Authority recently announced funding to build a new ballpark for the team. The city lost its former minor league baseball team called the Hagerstown Suns, which was a long-time member of the low Class-A South Atlantic League, during the restructuring of Minor League Baseball prior to the 2021 season. Next week, the Atlantic League's new 2022 Staten Island expansion team plans to announce its list of six or seven potential team names.
Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: The owners of the Leones de Yucatan team in Mexico's top LMB (Mexican Baseball League) are again attempting to place an LMB team in Mazatlan to be called the Marineros de Mazatlan. The owners tried this in 2016 and 2017, but this time it is reported to be the purchase and relocation of the LMB's Rieleros de Aquascaliente. Mazatlan is home to a team called the Venados de Mazatlan in the fall-winter Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (Mexican Pacific League)
Major League Baseball: The ownership group trying to bring an MLB team called the Nashville Stars to the city has received an endorsement from the Greater Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce. MLB has stated expansion would be considered once the ballpark situations were settled in Oakland and Tampa Bay.
The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced an expansion team called the Southern California Moguls (So Cal Moguls), based in northern San Diego County, has joined the league for its 2022 season. The TBL had three California-based teams in the 2021 four-team West Division and previously announced two other 2022 California-based expansion teams called the Bakersfield Magic and the Temecula Eagles.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced the owner of the league's Elmira (NY) Eagles has formed an expansion team called the Hornell (NY) Bulls, which will join Elmira in the Northeast Division.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF announced a new team called the Rapid City (SD) Marshals has joined the league and will start play in the 2022 season. The team's ownership group also owns the league's 2021 expansion team called the Wyoming Mustangs (Gillette) and the recently announced 2022 expansion team called the Billings (MT) Outlaws. Originally, the ownership group had organized a Rapid City indoor team first called the Outlaws, then briefly the War Eagles, and finally the Rapid City Mayhem. Due to potential coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions at its home arena in South Dakota, the Mayhem was moved to Gillette (WY) as the Thunder Basin Pitbulls, which became the Wyoming Mustangs upon joining the CIF. Rapid City has had previous indoor football teams called the Black Hills Machine, Rapid City Red Dogs, Black Hills Red Dogs and Rapid City Flying Aces. The CIF had previous teams "Marshals" teams with the Mesquite (TX) Marshals (2016) and the Dallas Marshals (2017-18). The CIF's recently announced 2022 Denver expansion team is holding a name-the-team voting contest that started with 24 teams and is down to 6 names for final voting next week.
United Football League: The proposed new UFL, which is billed as America's premier spring football league, is under development and has added four more team names from the failed National Gridiron League (NGL). With the four teams announced last week, the UFL lists eight teams with the addition of the St. Louis Stampede, Virginia Beach Destroyers, Mississippi Mudcats (Jackson) and Arkansas Twisters (Little Rock). The NGL was originally announced as an indoor league with plans to start play in 2019, but switched to an eight-man outdoor league and never started play in either 2020 or 2021. The UFL will also be an eight-man outdoor league and claims its history is associated with previous versions of the UFL-a Midwest-based minor league that played four seasons (1961-64) and a fall-season league that played four seasons (2009-12).
North American 3 Hockey League: The junior-level Tier-III NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II junior-level NAHL, started its 2021-22 season this weekend with 34 teams aligned in 5 regional divisions. The league had 31 teams last season and lost the North Iowa Bulls (Mason City) to the NAHL. The new Mason City (IA) Toros and Austin IceBats were added, as were two former dormant NA3HL teams. New ownership took over the dormant Breezy Point (MN) North Stars and changed it to the Minnesota Loons. The new Norwich (CT) Sea Captains took over the dormant Skylands Kings (Stockholm, NJ). The Missoula (MT) Junior Bruins were sold and relocated to Rapid City (SD) as the Badlands Sabres. The Wausau (WI) RiverWolves were sold and renamed the Wausau Cyclones. Last season's Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers/Oklahoma City Hockey Club was renamed the Oklahoma City Ice Hawks.
Federal Prospects Hockey League: The FPHL recently announced it would play its 2021-22 season with seven teams, but previously announced expansion teams called the Motor City Rockers (Fraser, MI) and an unnamed team in Bloomington (IL) seemed to have disappeared. Bloomington was announced in November 2019 with a proposed start in the 2020-21 season. The FPHL scheduled three regular-season neutral-site games for Bloomington during the 2019-20 season. Two of these games were played in January 2020, but a March 2020 game, which was to feature Bloomington's team name announcement, was cancelled as was the rest of the FPHL season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Fraser-based FPHL expansion team was announced in July 2020 for a start in the 2020-21 season. The FPHL played a shortened 2020-21 season with only four participating teams. Both Bloomington and the Motor City Rockers elected to sit out the 2020-21 season with plans to return for the 2021-22 season.
Major League Soccer: Two of the three groups vying for a potential MLS expansion team in Las Vegas have filed trademarks for the Las Vegas Villains and the Las Vegas Heroes as possible team names. A third group hopes to build a new MLS-type stadium at the current home of the USL Championship's Las Vegas Lights FC and plans to use that name, if chosen for expansion.
USL League One (United Soccer League): The ownership of the Rochester Rhinos team, which last played in the 2017 season of the Division-II USL Championship and announced plans in 2018 to try to join the Division-III USL League One, has been renamed the Rochester New York FC, or RNY FC. The Rochester Rhinos were listed in 2019 as a USL League One expansion team, but the team's recent release stated a league announcement for RNY FC will be made in the coming weeks.
Liga de Balompie Mexicano: Mexico's professional LBM (Mexican Soccer League), which operates outside the Mexican Football Federation, started its second season last month with eight teams each playing a 14-game schedule through November 20, 2021. The LBM started play in 2020 and had only 7 of 17 teams active by the end of the 2020 season. Six teams that participated in the 2020 season are returning and the league added two new teams called the Deportivo Real Tlamazolan and Halcones Queretaro, which changed its name from LimSoccer.
National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA announced another affiliation with a seventh amateur league called the Tennessee-based Pioneer Premier League, which will start play in 2022.
Athletes Unlimited - Softball League: Athletes Unlimited started the second season of its five-week women's professional softball league on August 28, 2021. The league will again feature four teams playing all games at the Parkway Bank Sports Complex in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont. The teams do not have individual owners and are not tied to any one city. Teams play three games each weekend, one game against each of the other teams. Players are not under contract with any one team and they are ranked by points earned each week by the team and individually. The top four players each week become captains, who then draft new teams for the next weekend. Athletes Unlimited used the same format for a women's pro volleyball league that played in Dallas this past February and March, and for a women's pro field lacrosse league that recently completed its inaugural season with all games played in Maryland.
Major Series Lacrosse: The 2018 sale of the Brampton Excelsiors team in Canada's Ontario-based indoor Senior-A MSL is being challenged after the Brampton owner announced plans in late 2020 to move the team to Owen Sound. The team played as the Owen Sound Lacrosse Club in the league's shortened 2021 season, but the Ontario Lacrosse Association stated it will not sanction any of Owen Sound's MSL activities until the team can prove the sale and relocation of the Excelsiors followed all bylaws.
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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