Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
January 3, 2022 - United Soccer League One (USL1)
Northern League: The new Crown Point (IN) team announced for the unaffiliated pre-professional Northern League, which had been operating as the summer-collegiate Midwest Collegiate League since the 2011 season and recently announced a change in its name and classification, held fan voting last month to name the team with results still to be announced. Nicknames up for voting included the Lake County Corn Dogs, Lake County Dune Bugs, Lake County K9s, Lake County Locomotives and Lake County Orbits.
Double-A Northeast League: The city of Richmond (VA) is seeking proposals for a 70-acre site that would include a new ballpark for the Richmond Flying Squirrels of the Double-A Northeast League. The team's owner has been trying to get a new stadium built for the team since it moved to the city from Norwich (CT) for the 2010 season. With Major League Baseball recently taking control of Minor League Baseball and issuing new ballpark standards, the team needs to move forward on a new ballpark plan or risk losing the team. Ownership stated the team needs to be in a new ballpark no later than 2025.
Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: The Sonoma (CA) Stompers of the California-based independent Pacific Association announced the team will join the summer-collegiate California Collegiate League for the 2022 season. The Pacific Association was dormant for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and was down to only three teams. With the loss of Sonoma, the league has only two remaining teams called the Napa Silverados and Vallejo Admirals.
Puerto Rico Independent Baseball League: The PRIBL recently announced the schedule for its 2022 season that will feature the same four teams from the league's inaugural 2021 season. Teams will each play a 36-game schedule (6 home and 6 away games against the other teams) in 41 days from February 28 to April 9, 2022. The 2021 season ran from late June through July.
Western Association of Professional Baseball: The proposed independent Western Association is still working on starting play in 2022 and recently announced it will sponsor a month-long Winter Warmup and instructional league to be held in Henderson (NV) from early February to early March 2022. The Western Association will be scouting players as it plans to launch in June 2022 with eight teams based in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Texas and each team playing a 78-game schedule. A team called the Henderson Hoo was previously announced and the league plans to announce more teams in the near future.
Professional Basketball Association: The PBA is planning for its second spring/summer season in 2022 and has announced the addition of several new teams called the Bluff City Spartans (Memphis), Triangle Pacers (Raleigh-Durham, NC), Seattle Reign, Knoxville (TN) Young Yellowjackets and its first Mexican team called the 94 Elite de Hermosillo (Sonora), which was based in Boston and part of the Premier Basketball League in 2021. A previously announced team for San Gabriel Valley (CA) will be called the San Gabriel Valley Coyotes when it starts play in 2022. The 2022 PBA will have teams aligned in eight regional divisions for a May to August season. A women's league called the LPBA is also organizing.
Independent Professional Women's Basketball League: The IPWBL, which held a short inaugural 2021 summer season with a three-team Midwest Region and a four-team Southern Region, has added new teams called the Chicago Gambits, Austin Trailblazers and "The SIP", based in Columbus (MS). The IPWBL currently lists nine member teams for 2022.
Arena Football Association: A new team called the Magnolia State Spartans (Philadelphia, MS) is organizing and announced plans to be part of the Arena Football Association, which will start in 2022 and include some of the Texas-based teams that participated in the 2021 Lonestar Series.
Fan Controlled Football: The 7-on-7 indoor fan-interactive FCF, which is the first fan-controlled professional sports league with fans electronically calling plays, recently announced Team KOD and Team 8OKI as two of its four expansion teams for the league's second season in the spring of 2022. The FCF held its first season this past spring with four teams each playing a short four-game schedule at one location. Next week the FCF will be holding player tryouts for the 2022 season.
Federal Prospects Hockey League: The FPHL held the third of three 2021-22 neutral-site regular-season games in Biloxi (MS) this week to gauge interest in a potential future FPHL team. The game between the Columbus (GA) River Dragons and the Port Huron (MI) Prowlers was a sellout and the three-game series drew over 20,000 fans. The FPHL and a group trying to bring a team called the Mississippi Sea Wolves to Biloxi sponsored the three-game series and the Prowlers wore Mississippi Sea Wolves throwback jerseys during the game. An announcement was made during the game that the Mississippi Sea Wolves will be returning to the city full time, most likely as an FPHL expansion team. Biloxi was home to the former Mississippi Sea Wolves that played 11 seasons (1996-2005 and 2007-09) in the ECHL and the former Mississippi Surge that played five seasons (2009-14) in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Western Professional Hockey League: The ownership of the new Billings (MT) franchise in the proposed new WPHL announced the team will be called the Billings Blizzard. The Billings Bullheads, Montana Magma, Montana Magic and Billings Roughnecks were names selected for fan voting, but the Billings Blizzard was selected via write-in votes. The Billings ownership also owns the Billings Outlaws indoor football team that will start play in the 2022 season of Champions Indoor Football. The new single-A WPHL is organizing in the western half of the United States as a developmental league and plans to start play in the fall of 2022. The league has one other named team called the Las Vegas Millionaires, but eventually hopes to have eight teams with four in a Mountain Division and four in and around Texas.
Premier Arena Soccer League: The amateur-level PASL started its 2021-22 season last month and again features both a men's division and a women's division. Current posted schedules list five men's teams (Elizabethtown Ignite, Cincinnati Swerve, Brew City Legends, Chicago Mustangs and Metro Louisville) and six women's teams (San Antonio Slayers, Dallas Select, Austin Fierce United, Dallas NXT Image, Cincinnati Sirens and Columbus Eagles).
National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA has received an application for membership from the 1,000 Oaks FC, based in Westlake Village (CA). The team is expected to start play in the 2023 season.
USL League One (United Soccer League): The Spokane Public Facilities District, which plans to build and operate a proposed new soccer stadium in downtown Spokane (WA), has received a $4 million stadium investment from the USL and will lease the new stadium to a future Division-III USL League One team instead of to a potential ownership group trying to bring a Division-III MLS NEXT Pro team to the city. The agreement with the USL does not yet have an ownership group and a 2023 stadium completion date is not firm. The USL will also try to bring a women's team to the new stadium.
USL W-League (United Soccer League): The new women's pre-professional USL W-League announced the Cincinnati-based Kings Hammer FC has joined for the league's inaugural 2022 season. The Kings Hammer FC had a men's team in the 2021 season of the pre-professional USL League Two.
National Premier Soccer League: Over the past few months, the men's elite-level amateur NPSL announced several new teams ahead of its 2022 season. New teams include the Jackson Lions FC (New Jersey), Grove Soccer United (Glendale, CA), Soccer Club Brave Lions (Glendale, CA), Lubbock (TX) Matadors, Corinthians of San Antonio and Cedar Stars FC (Chester, NY).
Women's Premier Soccer League - Canada: The elite amateur-level WPSL announced the creation of a new Canadian league known as the WPSL-Canada, which will start as an amateur-level Division-II league with plans to become Canada's national professional league within the next two to five years. The new league will be backed by the WPSL (USA), but will be run by Canadians and operate separately under a different structure. Rather than a team-membership model used in the WPSL, the WPSL-Canada will be a more centralized operation with teams becoming partners with league governance. The WPSL-Canada hopes to start in 2022 with 16 Canadian teams aligned in eight-team East and West conferences. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary have been mentioned as possible initial team locations.
Canada Co-Operative Championship Rugby League: The new professional "rugby league" CCCRL was introduced this year and plans to have six men's teams and six women's teams playing in a short 2022 competition in Toronto with league play starting in 2023. The CCCRL will feature a 9-player version of "rugby league" instead of the traditional 13-player version. The CCCRL plans to start in 2023 with men's and women's teams in each of six locations to include Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal in an Eastern Conference and Vancouver, Calgary and Regina (Saskatchewan) in a Western Conference. The league hopes to grow to 12 teams. Individual team names will be announced in the future.
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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