Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
June 13, 2022 - Major League Rugby (MLR)
Empire Baseball League: The independent Empire League, which develops players for other independent leagues that are partners of Major League Baseball, started its 2022 season this week with four teams each playing a 40-game schedule through July 25, 2022. The three New York-based teams called the Plattsburgh T-Birds (Thunderbirds), Saranac Lake Surge and Tupper Lake Riverpigs have returned from last season, while a travel-only team of Japanese players called the Japan Islanders has replaced last season's New Hampshire Wild (Concord). The Empire League is also operating a team called the Empire Greys, which is based out of Tupper Lake and is playing as a travel-only team in the 2022 season of the independent Frontier League.
International League: The Triple-A International League's Louisville Bats played two games this weekend as the Louisville Redbirds, which was the team's name from 1982 through the 1998 season. The team changed to the RiverBats in 1999 and then to the Bats for the 2002 season. The league's Indianapolis Indians played a game this weekend as the Indianapolis Clowns to honor the Negro Leagues and the city's former Negro Leagues team by that name.
Major League Baseball: Two future heirs to MLB's Baltimore Orioles are involved in a lawsuit as to who controls the team. One heir looking to control the team is based in Nashville and mentioned the possibility of moving the team to Tennessee.
Women's American Basketball Association: The semi-pro WABA has posted the teams and divisional alignment for the upcoming 2022 season starting on July 2. The league will feature 19 teams aligned in a four-team Midwest, a four-team North Upper, a four-team North Lower and a seven-team South.
Canadian Football League: The CFL started its 2022 season this week with the same nine teams as last season and again aligned in a five-team West Division and a four-team East Division. Each team will play 18 games through October 2022. The CFL will hold one 2022 regular-season neutral-site game in Nova Scotia as part of the Touchdown Atlantic series, which features a game played in the Maritimes provinces where the league has been trying to add a fifth team for the East Division.
European League of Football: The ELF, which plays American-style football and completed a 2021 season last year with eight teams aligned in four-team North and South divisions, has started its second season that features 12 teams aligned in four-team Northern, Southern and Central conferences. All eight teams have returned from last season and the league added four new teams called the Vienna Vikings (Austria), Istanbul Rams (Turkey), Dusseldorf Rhein Fire (Germany) and Swarco Tirol Raiders (Innsbruck, Austria). Each team is scheduled to play 13 games through the first week of September 2022.
Major League Football: The new MLFB announced the Arkansas Attack (Little Rock), Virginia Armada (Virginia Beach) and Ohio Force (Canton) as three of the four teams that will participate in the league's inaugural season starting in August. A location for the league's fourth team, which was listed as the Independence and is now the Airborne, along with a full schedule will be announced soon. The MLFB plans to play a condensed schedule in 2022 and start with a full spring schedule in 2023.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF has approved the new ownership group for the league's Rapid City (SD) Marshals and the team will remain Rapid City.
National Collegiate Development Conference: The United States Premier Hockey League's Tier-II junior-level NCDC will play its 2022-23 season with 14 teams aligned in seven-team North and South divisions. The league had 13 teams last season, but the Philadelphia Hockey Club withdrew from the six-team South Division after the season. Two new teams called the Mercer Chiefs (New Jersey) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights have been added for the 2022-23 season. These new teams are expected to be added to create a seven-team South Division to go with the returning seven-team North Division.
United States Premier Hockey League - Premier Division: The USPHL's Tier-III Premier Division has posted the teams and league alignment for the 2022-23 season. The league had 64 teams across 10 regional divisions in 2021-22, but the Philadelphia Hockey Club and New Jersey Whalers are not returning. The league has added 11 new teams and expanded to 73 teams across 10 regional divisions for 2022-23. The Atlantic East and Atlantic West divisions have been merged into one Mid-Atlantic division, while a new five-team Northwest division has been added. New teams include the Nashville Spartans, Minnesota Squatch (Elk River), Columbia (SC) Infantry, Battle Creek Kernels, Bakersfield Roughnecks, Idaho Falls Spuds, Bellingham Blazers, Rock Springs (UT) Prospectors, Rogue Valley Royals (Medford, OR), Vernal (UT) Oilers and Seattle Totems. The Rum River Mallards (Isanti, MN) changed to the Isanti Outlaws.
United States Premier Hockey League - Elite Division: The UPSHL's Tier-III developmental Elite Division will increase from 20 to 22 teams across 4 regional divisions for the 2022-23 season. The New Jersey Whalers are not returning, but the PAL Islanders have been added and replace the Whalers in the Mid-Atlantic division. Other new teams include the Nashville Spartans to the South East division and the Columbia (SC) Infantry to the Florida division.
USL Championship: Completion of a new 6,300-seat soccer stadium in downtown Des Moines (IA) for a Division-II professional USL Championship team has been pushed back, so the new team will not start play until the 2025 season.
Liga de Balompié Mexicano: Mexico's independent professional LBM (Mexican Football League), which started its 2022 season in April with eight teams, is down to only seven teams after the league's Atletico Capitalino (Texcoco/Mexico City) club was expelled last month for not complying with league requirements. Atletico Capitalino had played 5 of its 14 scheduled games in the 2022 season.
Major League Rugby: As the 13-team professional MLR finishes up its 2022 season, the league is considering future expansion and wants a presence in the Midwest with St. Louis and Chicago mentioned as possible sites. A group trying to bring an MLR team to St. Louis has chosen the St. Louis Knights as a potential team name.
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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