Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 5, 2022 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Major League Baseball Draft League: Although the ownership of the Trenton Thunder in the six-team MLB Draft League, which is a showcase for top MLB draft-eligible prospects prior to the MLB draft, is committed to the league for now, its goal is to have the team return to being an MLB affiliated team in the future. The Trenton Thunder lost its Double-A affiliation with the New Yankees during the restructuring of Minor League Baseball prior to the 2021 season and opted to join the MLB Draft League in 2021.
Western Canadian Baseball League: The Edmonton Prospects of the summer-collegiate WCBL have been facing delays in completing a new ballpark in suburban Spruce Grove and it might not be ready for the start of the 2023 season. The Prospects lost its lease at RE/MAX Field in Edmonton prior to the 2021 season, so the team played as a travel-only team in 2021 and played most of their 2022 games in Sherwood Park while waiting for completion of the new Spruce Grove ballpark. The Prospects control the Edmonton market for the WCBL, so the group that took over at RE/MAX Field organized the Edmonton Riverhawks team in the summer-collegiate West Coast League and that team started play in the 2022 season.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): This week, the NBA G-League announced its 30-team 2022-23 season schedule that will again be split into two parts. The season will include the 28 teams operating under individual affiliations with 28 of the 30 NBA teams, plus the league's developmental G-League Ignite team (now based in the Las Vegas area) and the unaffiliated Mexico City Capitanes team. Only the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns do not have affiliated teams in the G-League. Each G-League team will play a 50-game schedule with part one being the Showcase Cup tournament from early November to late December followed by a 32-game regular season from late December through March 2023. Teams will be aligned in four regional pods for the Showcase Cup Tournament and switch to a two-conference alignment for the regular season. There was one off-season team name change as the Aqua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (CA) team was renamed the Ontario Clippers.
The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced two more expansion teams called the Fairfax Storms (Fairfax County, VA) and the Maryland Tempest (Bowie) have been added for the 2023 season.
East Coast Basketball League: The semi-pro ECBL recently announced a team called the Virginia Dream has been added to the Northwest Division, while teams called the Georgia Kangaroos (Toccoa) and the Letitfly Webdogs of Spartanburg (SC) have been added to the Southwest Division for the 2023 season. The Virginia Dream had been part of the Official Basketball Association, while the Georgia Kangaroos had been part of the Universal Basketball Association. The ECBL's former travel-only team called the Bishopville (SC) Devils team has been elevated to a full-schedule team for the 2023 season and will play in the Southeast Division.
Upland South Indoor Football League: A new lower-level developmental indoor football league known as the USIFL is organizing for a start in November 2022. The league currently has five member teams called the Ohio Blitz (Lima), Morristown (TN) Gators, Kentuckiana Kurse (Louisville), Kentucky Banditz (Danville) and the Kentucky Mafia (Elizabethtown).
National Arena League: The ownership of the NAL's Albany (NY) Empire and Orlando Predators has purchased an interest the league's Columbus (GA) Lions. The NAL operated with six teams in 2022, but plans to add the Fayetteville (NC) Mustangs and West Texas Warbirds (Odessa) for 2023.
Premier Hockey Federation: The women's professional PHF officially announced the name of its new Montreal-based expansion team and the league's seventh team will be the Montreal Force when its starts play in the 2022-23 season.
Can-Am Junior Hockey League: The independent CAJHL, which started play in January 2022 when six teams left the former junior-level Western States Hockey League midway through its 2021-22 season to form the CAJHL, currently lists five teams based in Alberta (Canada) for its 2022-23 season. Of the six CAJHL teams from last season, the league's only non-Canadian team called the Vernal (UT) Oilers moved to the Tier-III junior-level United States Premier Hockey League for the 2022-23 season and another team called the Edmonton Eagles will not be part of the 2022-23 season. The CAJHL added an expansion team called the AMP Warriors based in Calgary (Alberta) for the 2022-23 season.
Liga de Balompie Mexicano: Mexico's independent professional LBM (Mexican Football League), which completed its 2022 season in July with seven teams, recently announced teams called the Cachorros FC (San Luis Potosi) and the Lobos USSL (Cuautitlán Izcalli, Mexico) have been added for the 2023 season. The LBM also finalized the six teams that will start a new LBM Segunda Division (Second Division) this month.
USL Championship (USL): A group of investors under the name JAXUSL has obtained rights to a Jacksonville (FL) expansion franchise in the men's Division-II professional USL Championship with plans to have the team start play in 2025. The group is currently looking at sites for a proposed new soccer stadium for the men's team and a possible women's team in the new Division-II USL Super League that starts play next year. JAXUSL has also formed a partnership with the Jacksonville-based Florida Elite Soccer Academy, which operates pre-professional teams in the men's USL League Two and the women's USL W-League. The city's most recent professional soccer team was the men's Jacksonville Armada that last played in the final 2017 season of the Division-II North American Soccer League.
Liga Mexicana de Futbol Rapido Profesional: The Northeast Division of Mexico's top indoor soccer league known as the LMFR recently started play in the 2022-2023 season with eight teams aligned in four-team South (Sur) and North (Norte) divisions. The LMFR also has other regional divisions that will start play later this fall or early in 2023. The LMFR is also planning a women's league called LMFR Femenil that will start play in January 2023.
Arena Lacrosse League: Canada's indoor amateur developmental ALL recently announced the addition of a team in Brampton as the eighth team in the Ontario-based ALL East division. The ALL operated with a seven-team ALL East and a four-team British Columbia-based ALL West for its 2021-22 season that ran from mid-December 2021 to early April 2022. A name for the Brampton team is still to be announced.
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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