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 Southern League

Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
January 17, 2022 - Southern League (SL)


BASEBALL

Double-A South League: As part of a lease agreement and public assistance for a new stadium to be built in downtown Knoxville (TN), the Tennessee Smokies of the Double-A South League will be renamed the Knoxville Smokies when the team moves from its current home in Kodak (TN) to the new stadium that is to be ready for the 2024 season. The team was previously called the Knoxville Smokies until moving 20 miles east to its current home at Smokies Stadium in Kodak for the 2000 season.

Coastal Plain League: The Asheboro (NC) Copperheads team in the summer-collegiate CPL has changed its name to the Asheboro Zookeepers starting with the 2022 season. The name was chosen due to the proximity of the team's home field to the North Carolina Zoo.

Major League Baseball Draft League: The new owner of the Frederick (MD) Keys team, which participated in the inaugural 2021 season of the MLB Draft League, plans to work with the city on improving and renovating the local stadium so the team can return to becoming an MLB affiliate. The Keys were the Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles until losing its MLB affiliation after the 2020 season. Joining the MLB Draft League was considered a temporary step to returning to an affiliation.

BASKETBALL

The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL has posted the alignment for its 43 teams that will be participating in the 2022 season starting in early March. The TBL will have six regional divisions: a nine-team Central, nine-team Northeast, six-team Lower Midwest, seven-team Upper Midwest, six-team Southeast and a six-team West.

American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced teams called the Las Vegas Dream and the Nebraska Musketeers have been added as 2022-23 expansion teams. No specific city was listed as the home for the Nebraska team. The semi-pro East Coast Basketball League reported the owner of the new Las Vegas team has abandoned plans for a team called the Electric City Steam (Scranton, PA), which had been accepted into the ECBL for its upcoming 2022, and that team has now been terminated by the ECBL.

FOOTBALL

Arena Professional Football League: The new APFL recently announced the Jersey Flight (Trenton), West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon) and South Carolina Cowboyz (Pendleton) will be part of the league's inaugural 2022 season. Jersey was part of 2021 the National Arena League, West Michigan was part of the 2021 American Arena League (AAL) and South Carolina was part of the 2020 AAL. The APFL also has two previously announced teams called the Charlotte Thunder and Pennsylvania Union (Harrisburg).

American Indoor Football Alliance: The AIFA announced four teams for its inaugural 2022 season to include the Mississippi Raiders (Jackson), St. Charles (MO) Bandits, Tampa Bay Cyclones and Las Vegas Kings. Three teams came from the 2021 American Arena League: the Mississippi Raiders were based in Hattiesburg, the St. Charles-based Bandits were the St. Louis Bandits, and Tampa Bay was the Tornadoes. The Carolina Predators (Fayetteville, NC) were not part of the recent AIFA team announcement.

American Arena League 2: The Waco Tornadoes from the 2021 Texas-based 8Man Indoor Football League announced the team is now part of the American Arena League's new developmental AAL 2.

Champions Indoor Football: The CIF has removed the Wichita Force from the league for violation of league requirements. The CIF is down to eight teams for the 2022 season and will announce a revised schedule. The Wichita Force joined the CIF as a 2015 expansion team. The league stated it will look for new ownership to return to Wichita in the future.

National Arena League: The Wheeling-based West Virginia Roughriders team, which last played in the 2019 American Arena League; moved to the NAL for a 2020 season that was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; and voluntarily sat out the 2021 season, will not play in the 2022 season due to renovations this summer at its home arena. In October 2021, the team announced it did not plan on returning to the NAL so it is uncertain in which league the team will play when it returns in 2023.

United States Football League: The Birmingham (AL) city council approved $500,000 to support plans for the new eight-team USFL to host all games at the city's two stadiums when the league starts play in April 2022. The league has not yet made an official announcement on Birmingham as the host city. The USFL announced its first player draft will start on February 22, 2022.

HOCKEY

Can-Am Junior Hockey League: The new six-team independent CAJHL, which is comprised of teams that left the Western States Hockey League at the midway point of the 2021-22 season, started its schedule this week. The CAJHL standings show the teams keeping their WSHL won-loss records.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: The 18-team major-junior QMJHL announced it will suspend play in its 2021-22 season until February 1, 2022 due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The league hopes to reschedule all postponed games so teams can complete their 68-game schedules.

SOCCER

Canadian Premier League: The commissioner of the eight-team professional CPL has stepped down and was awarded rights to an expansion franchise in Windsor (Ontario) under the conditions a soccer-specific stadium is constructed for the team and other league requirements are met. The CPL has three other Ontario-based teams in Ottawa, Hamilton and York (Greater Toronto Area). The league previously announced an expansion franchise for Vancouver for the 2023 season, along with a conditional expansion franchise for Saskatoon (Saskatchewan).

Major League Soccer: MLS held its player draft this week that will stock the league's 28th team called the Charlotte FC, which will start play in the 2022 season. St. Louis City SC will join as the 29th team in 2023 and Las Vegas is considered the frontrunner to become home to the 30th team. MLS had three possible groups interested in the Las Vegas expansion franchise, but the league appears to favor the ownership group planning to build a new soccer-specific stadium for an MLS team possibly named the Las Vegas Villains. This group has ownership interests in the Aston Villa club in England's Premier League. The owner of the National Hockey League's Vegas Golden Knights recently decided to end his attempt to start an MLS expansion team called the Las Vegas Heroes. This effort had considered using Allegiant Stadium, home to the National Football League's Las Vegas Raiders. Another group that owns the Las Vegas Lights FC of the Division-II USL Championship has been trying to renovate the Lights' Cashman Field to become the home for a possible MLS expansion team that would use the Las Vegas Lights name.

National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III men's professional NISA announced a team called the Savannah Clovers FC has been approved for membership and will start play in the 2023 season. The team had been a member of the United Premier Soccer League since the 2016 season.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The group working to bring a Division-III USL League One team to Portland (ME) has decided against trying to build a new soccer-specific stadium and plans to renovate the city's Fitzpatrick Stadium, with the 2024 season as a target for the team to start play.

USL League Two (United Soccer League): The men's pre-professional USL League Two announced the Blue Goose SC (Shreveport, LA), Caledonia SC (Lakeland, FL) and Commonwealth Cardinals FC (Fredericksburg, VA) have joined for the league's 2022 season. The Caledonia SC will also start a team in the new women's pre-professional USL W-League for the 2022 season.

USL W-League (United Soccer League): The new women's pre-professional USL W-League announced the Cedar Stars Academy (Bergen County, NJ) and the Caledonia SC (Lakeland, FL) have joined for the league's inaugural 2022 season.

OTHER

Premier Ultimate League: The women's PUL ultimate frisbee league recently announced it will return in 2022 with 12 teams. The PUL played its inaugural spring-summer season in 2019 with eight teams and expanded to 12 teams for a 2020 season that was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The 2021 season included 9 of the league's 12 teams participating in 3 different three-team regional tournaments in August and September.

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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Southern League Stories from January 17, 2022


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