Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
August 8, 2022 - Atlantic League (AtL)
Atlantic League: Preparation of the site that will become home to a new ballpark in downtown Hagerstown (MD) for an independent Atlantic League expansion team is just getting underway, so completion of the ballpark is not expected until 2024. When Hagerstown was announced for expansion this last September, the team was scheduled to start play in 2023. With the addition of the expansion Staten Island FerryHawks for 2022, the league had nine teams going into this season. To balance the schedule, the league created a tenth team by placing a second team in Lexington (KY) called the Kentucky Wild Health Genomes, which is operated by the league's Lexington Legends. It is uncertain if this experiment in Lexington will continue next season. The league has used a Road Warriors travel-only team in the past to keep an even number of teams and a balanced schedule.
Pioneer League: The ten-team independent Pioneer League is considering prospective owners for possible future expansion to 12 teams as a way to reduce travel costs. The league currently has four teams in Montana, three in Colorado, two in Idaho and one in Utah. A group from Providence (UT) is interested in an expansion team, but the league wants to add two teams at the same time to keep a balance in the scheduling and the two-division alignment.
Major League Baseball: As MLB's Oakland Athletics held discussions with the owner of a potential new ballpark site in Las Vegas, a group of port operators and trucking firms filed a lawsuit against a proposed new waterfront ballpark planned for Oakland. There are now three lawsuits filed against this ballpark.
Professional Basketball Association: The PBA announced a merger with the 1891 club, which is one of the largest basketball communities that creates opportunities for players and showcases their talent, and the league has been renamed the PBA by 1891. As part of 1891, the two organizations will manage, create and develop basketball markets throughout North America. The PBA by 1891 also announced the Chattanooga Engineers, Carolina Cosmos (Wilmington, NC) and Waco Terror have been add to the league's new developmental D-League that starts play this fall.
Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA commissioner stated the league would like to add one or two teams by 2024 or 2025, but the teams would need the right ownership and arena. The commissioner stated the WNBA is not ready to start a developmental league similar to the NBA's G-League, but thinks 3-on-3 basketball can offer developmental opportunities. The league's Seattle Storm and Chicago Sky, which partnered with Force 10 Sports Management to sponsor 26 players on 3-on-3 teams last year, will be joined by the WNBA's Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings and Indiana Fever this year to partner with Force 10 to expand professional women's basketball opportunities. Force 10 competing in the 2022 Red Bull 3X (3-on-2) circuit this summer.
Pacific Pro Football: The once-proposed developmental Pacific Pro Football, or Pacific Pro League, which to have four southern California teams starting play in July 2020, abandoned plans for a league-based operation in 2020. The league organizer has switched to HUB Football, which is a series of invitation-only instructional camps to assist elite street free agent players.
American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's Calgary Flames announced its AHL affiliate, which previously operated as the Stockton Heat before relocating to Calgary after the 2021-22 season, will be called the Calgary Wranglers when it starts play in the 2022-23 season. Calgary had a previous junior-level hockey team called the Calgary Wranglers that played ten seasons (1977-87) in the major-junior Western Hockey League.
Kootenay International Junior Hockey League: The Junior-B KIJHL announced the Spokane Braves team has not been able to fill a player roster and will not be part of the league's 2022-23 season that will now feature 19 teams. The Braves are the only KIJHL team based in the United States, while all the other 19 teams are based in British Columbia. The Braves also did not play in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, mostly due to cross-border travel restrictions from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The team hopes to return for the 2023-24 season.
MLS NEXT Pro (Major League Soccer): Major League Soccer's professional soccer league known as MLS NEXT Pro is playing its inaugural season this year with 21 teams. Twenty of the teams serve as the developmental and reserve team for their MLS parent, while one team is an independent. The MLS NEXT Pro announced seven additional MLS teams (Atlanta United, Austin FC, Charlotte FC, Los Angeles Galaxy, Los Angeles FC, Nashville SC and New York Red Bulls) will add reserve teams to the league for 2023 and grow the league to 28 teams. Nashville SC recently announced it will operate its MLS NEXT Pro team in Huntsville (AL). All of the newly added teams will announce team names and home venues in the near future. The Atlanta United, Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls currently operate reserve teams (Atlanta United 2, LA Galaxy II and New York Red Bulls II) in the Division-II USL Championship and those teams will be leaving that league next season. The MLS will have 29 teams next season with the addition of St. Louis City SC, which is operating the St. Louis CITY2 team in the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro. As of now, only the MLS's D.C. United and CF Montreal have not yet announced MLS NEXT Pro teams for next season. The D.C. United has its reserve team currently playing as the Loudon United FC (Leesburg, VA) in the USL Championship, while CF Montreal has its reserve team called CF Montreal currently playing in the Premiere Ligue de Soccer du Quebec (Premier Soccer League of Quebec).
National Indoor Soccer League: The NISL announced the addition of a sixth club called the Central Florida Crusaders (Orlando) for the league's second season in 2022-23. The NISL operated with four clubs in its inaugural 2021-22 season with each club operating a team in the men's division and the women's division. The four clubs from last season will return and the NISL also added another Florida team called the Tampa Bay Strikers for the 2022-23 season. All six clubs will operate both men's and women's teams in the 2022-23 season.
Professional Box Lacrosse Association: The proposed new PBLA indoor lacrosse league, which plans to start play in December 2022, announced the top four team nickname choices per team for each of seven previously announced markets and these nicknames are now available for fan voting. These include Binghamton (Bombers, Bravehearts, Blast and Brawlers), Charlotte (Fury, Goal Diggers, Bootleggers, and United LAX), Elmira (Tilt, Express, Renegades and Huckleberries), Hampton Roads (Neptunes, Salty Crabs, Hammerheads and Hooligans), New England (Warriors, Rebellion, United LAX and Chowderheads), Syracuse (Sasquatch, Revolution, Flow and Sparklemuffins) and Trenton (Titans, Terror, Jersey Shorehounds and New Jersey Chopper Squad). An eighth team could still be announced for 2022.
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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