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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 22, 2021 - ECHL (ECHL)


BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League announced its Staten Island (NY) expansion team will be called the Staten Island Ferry Hawks when it starts play in the 2022 season. The league also announced its 2022 season schedule that will feature ten teams aligned in five-team North and South divisions.

Double-A South League: The Knoxville (TN) city council approved a plan for a new stadium to be built in downtown Knoxville that would have the Tennessee Smokies of the Double-A South League return to the city after a 2000 move of the team to its current stadium in Kodak (TN). The lease at Smokies Stadium expires in 2024 and construction on the new Knoxville stadium could start as early as January 2022. The Jackson (TN) Generals organization, which lost its Major League Baseball affiliation and was not included in the switch of the former Southern League to the Double-A South League for the 2021 season, has seen its lease at The Ballpark in Jackson terminated by the city this week because the terms of the lease called for the team to be an MLB affiliate. During the 2021 season, the Jackson Generals did not play but operated The Ballpark, which served as the home field for the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent American Association due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions. The Jackson Generals hope to join one of the independent MLB Partner Leagues and renegotiate a lease with the city.

High-A Central League: The Beloit (WI) Snappers team from the High-A Central League has been renamed the Beloit Sky Carp. The rebranding was part of the team's move to a new stadium that opened near the end of the 2021 season. Other nickname finalists were the Moo, Supper Clubbers, Cheese Balls and Polka Pike.

Major League Baseball: The MLB's Cleveland Guardians, formerly the Cleveland Indians, have reached an agreement with the Cleveland Guardians roller-derby team that will allow the MLB team to move forward with using the new Guardians nickname.

Northwoods League: The Battle Creek (MI) Bombers of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League have come under new ownership and the team will be rebranded prior to the 2022 season.

Pecos League: The independent Pecos League has added two new teams called the Austin (TX) Weirdos and the Santa Rosa (CA) Scuba Divers to its list of teams for the 2022 season.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced a team called the 413 Elite, based in Springfield (MA), has been added as a 2022-23 expansion team.

Eastern Canadian Basketball League: The proposed new ECBL, which plans to start play in the spring of 2022 with six league-operated teams based in the Maritimes provinces, announced its fourth team will be the Valley Vipers, based in Berwick (Nova Scotia) of the Annapolis Valley. The other previously announced teams include the Summerside Slam (Prince Edward Island), Truro Tide (Nova Scotia) and Saint John Union (New Brunswick).

The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced the Orlando-based Central Florida Force has been added as a 2023 expansion team.

FOOTBALL

Arena Football Association: The new AFA announced the initial six teams for its proposed start in 2022: the Amarillo Venom, West Texas Warbirds (Odessa), Texas Jets (Houston), Rio Grande Valley Dorados, Texas Crude (North Richland Hills) and North Texas Bulls (Fort Worth). Amarillo and West Texas were two Champions Indoor Football teams that sat out the CIF's 2021 season, but competed in a 2021 five-team Texas-based Lone Star Series that also included the AFA's Texas Jets. The North Texas Bulls were part of the 2021 American Arena League and a Rio Grande Valley Dorados team was part of the short-lived 2019 International Arena Football League.

United States Football League: The proposed new springtime USFL, which will be owned and operated by FOX Sports, announced its inaugural 2022 season will start in April with eight teams aligned in two four-team North and South divisions. Each team will play a ten-game regular season. All games will be played at one location for the 2022 season. Birmingham (AL) has been mentioned as the USFL's 2022 home, but an official announcement is still to follow. The founder of the developmental The Spring League is a co-founder of the USFL and will act as the USFL's President of Football Operations.

HOCKEY

ECHL: The ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers (St. John's) completed its first homestand of the 2021-22 season in Conception Bay South rather than the team's normal home, the Mary Brown's Centre (formerly the Mile One Centre), in St. John's. The team's ownership and the city have been involved in ongoing lease and operating disputes about the arena and it is uncertain where the team will play its next home stand. Growlers' ownership has talked of building a new arena at a different location in Newfoundland.

United States Hockey League: The Omaha Lancers of the Tier-I junior-level USHL cancelled its three games this weekend due to a player boycott related to the team's operations.

Western Professional Hockey League: The group that owns the Billings (MT) Outlaws 2022 expansion team in the Champions Indoor Football announced it will place a Billings team in the new single-A professional WPHL for the league's inaugural 2022-23 season. As of now, the Billings Bullheads, Montana Magma, Montana Magic and Billings Roughnecks are potential team names for fan voting.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: MLS announced it will hold the expansion draft next month to stock the league's new Charlotte FC team that will start play in the 2022 season.

Major Arena Soccer League: The professional MASL held a pre-season Central Cup tournament last weekend with four Midwestern teams: the Kansas City Comets and St. Louis Ambush from the MASL and the Omaha Kings FC and Wichita Wings from the lower-level MASL2.

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The pre-professional USL League Two announced the Marin FC Legends (Marin County, CA) team has been added for the league's 2022 season.

USL W-League (United Soccer League): The new women's pre-professional USL W-League announced the Tampa Bay United and the Florida Elite Soccer Academy (St. John's) have joined for the league's inaugural 2022 season. A Tampa Bay United women's team has been part of the Women's Premier Soccer League for the past few seasons. The Florida Elite Soccer Academy has had a men's team as part of the USL League Two since the 2019 season.

United Women's Soccer: The pro-am UWS announced the Baltimore-based Coppermine United, which had a successful 2021 season as part of the lower-level UWS League Two, has been promoted to the UWS and will operate teams at both levels for the 2022 season.

OTHER

Arena Lacrosse League: Canada's indoor winter amateur developmental ALL recently announced the four teams that will comprise the league's new ALL West division. Teams called the Sea Spray, Grizzlies, Black Fish and Shooting Eagles will each play a 12-game schedule from mid-December 2021 through March 2022 with all games played at the Langley Events Centre (British Columbia). The 2022 ALL East will feature seven Ontario-based 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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