Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 12, 2022 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League has posted the 2023 league alignment, which as of now features a seven-team Pacific Division and an eight-team Mountain Division. The Pacific Division had eight teams in 2022, but the Tucson Saguaros have been moved to the Mountain Division, the 2022 Wasco Reserve team is no longer listed, and a new team called the Lancaster (CA) Sound Breakers has been added. The Mountain Division had eight teams in 2022, but has lost the Weimar (TX) Hormigas and Colorado Springs SnowSox, while adding Tucson from the Pacific Division and a new team called the Blackwell (OK) Flycatchers.
Atlantic League: Construction of a new ballpark in Hagerstown (MD) for an expansion team in the independent Atlantic League will move forward after recently completing the purchase of one remaining parcel needed for the development. The new ballpark is expected to be ready for the 2024 season. The new Hagerstown team plans to hold a name-the-team contest.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced teams called the 94 Elite (Salem, MA) and the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin 2Legendary Elite have been added for the 2022-23 season that starts in November. Also, the Central Florida Mix (Orlando) will return this season after a two-year absence.
The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced a St. Louis-based expansion team called TRU STL has been added for the 2023 season.
Professional Basketball Association (PBA by 1891): As the league known as the PBA by 1891 finishes up its 2022 spring-summer season, several more teams have been added for the 2022-23 fall-winter season. Teams called the Des Moines Dragoons and the Bradenton Yessuh have been added to the league's new developmental D-League that will start this fall. Teams called the H-Town Bombers (Houston), Atlanta Elite Kings, Albany (GA) Good Life and Chattanooga Spades were added to the pro-level PBA.
Major League Football: The proposed new fall-season professional MLF, not to be confused with the four-team developmental Major League Football (MLFB) that recently suspended operations, has moved its planned start from October 2022 to the fall of 2023. The MLF had previously listed 32 proposed markets across the United States, but that has now been scaled back to 18 teams with nine-team Eastern and Western conferences each with three-team North, South and Central divisions. The MLF stated it owns the trademark for "Major League Football" and sent the MLFB a cease and desist order for using the name.
Freedom Football League: There have been no new announcements for quite some time from the proposed spring-summer FFL, which was created by former National Football League players. The FFL has been trying to get off the ground since 2018 with eight to ten teams that would be owned by fans and players. The most recent proposed team listing included a Western Conference with the San Diego Warriors, Portland (OR) Power, Texas Revolution and Oakland Panthers, and an Eastern Conference with the Ohio Players (Cleveland), Florida Strong, Alabama Airmen and St. Louis Independence, which was to be renamed by fans.
Indoor Football League: The IFL's new Tulsa expansion team announced it will be called the Tulsa Oilers when it starts play in the 2023 season. The team's ownership also operates the Tulsa Oilers hockey team in the ECHL. Other potential nickname choices included the Tornado, Crude, Wildcatters and Bison.
North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL stared its 2022-23 season this week with 29 teams and the same alignment as last season: a six-team Central Division, a seven-team East Division, an eight-team South Division and an eight-team Midwest Division. There were three teams that relocated for the 2022-23 season, but remained in their respective divisions. The Jamestown (NY) Rebels became the Philadelphia Rebels; the Wichita Falls (TX) Warriors became the Oklahoma Warriors (Oklahoma City); and the Minnesota Magicians (Cloquet) became the Wisconsin Windigo (Eagle River). Each team will play a 60-game schedule through mid-April 2023.
North American 3 Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level NA3HL, which is affiliated with the Tier-II North American Hockey League, started its 2022-23 season this week with the same 34-team alignment as last season: three six-team Central, East and West divisions and two eight-team South and Frontier divisions. The only off-season change was in the South Division with the relocation of the Oklahoma City Ice Hawks to the Albuquerque area as the New Mexico Ice Wolves. Each team will play a 47-game schedule through March 5, 2023.
United States Premier Hockey League - Premier Conference: The USPHL's Tier-III Premier Conference started its 2022-23 season this week with 73 teams across 10 regional divisions. Of the 64 teams from last season, the New Jersey Whalers and the Philadelphia Hockey Club did not return, but the league added 11 new teams. 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 (MI) 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 their name to the Isanti Outlaws. Each team will play 60 games through March 2023.
United States Premier Hockey League - Elite Conference: The UPSHL's Tier-III developmental Elite Conference started its 2022-23 season and has grown from 20 to 23 teams across 4 regional divisions. The New Jersey Whalers did not return, but the PAL Islanders and Elmira Jr. Enforcers have been added to the Mid-Atlantic division, the Nashville Spartans to the South East division and the Columbia (SC) Infantry to the Florida division. Each team will play 44 games through March 5, 2023.
Major Arena Soccer League: The MASL's Ontario (CA) Fury announced last month the team would be changing its name for the 2022-23 season. A planned announcement scheduled for August 25 has been moved to September 17, 2022.
USL Championship (USL): The Orange County SC of the Division-II professional USL Championship is still not guaranteed use of its home at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine (CA) next season. The city is considering giving exclusive rights to the stadium to Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, whose USL Championship affiliate called the LA Galaxy II is moving to the MLS NEXT Pro league for 2023.
Major League Soccer: MLS announced its top prospects league known as MLS NEXT will feature 628 teams across six age groups (U13, U14, U15, U16, U17, and U19) for its 2022-23 season that started this weekend. Each of the 29 MLS teams will have their academy teams play within the various age groups, which include prospects from non-academy elite independent soccer clubs. MLS created the MLS NEXT Pro league for the 2022 season as a step between the MLS NEXT academy and MLS teams.
American Futsal League: The professional AFL, which is the only professional futsal league in the United States sanctioned under the world governing body of futsal called the Asociación Mundial de Futsal (AMF) and affiliated with the USA Futsal Federation, played its 2022 season from late February to early June. Six teams from California, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado each played a ten-game schedule.
National Futsal Premier League: The top men's amateur NFPL played its 2021-22 season from mid-December 2021 through April 2022 with seven teams each playing a 12-game schedule. Teams are based in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota. The NFPL is trying to start a women's league and four clubs sponsored women's teams in a Summer Open Cup tournament in July.
Women's Professional Fastpitch: The new WPF is a new women's pro fastpitch league being organized through the collaboration of USA Softball, the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) and Smash It Sports. The WPF wants to operate a six- or eight-team league, but started this year with two WPF-sponsored teams called the USSSA Pride and the Smash It Sports Vipers playing about 30 games in a 2022 exhibition season from mid-June to early August. Some games were played at the USSSA Space Coast Complex in Viera (FL) and others at tour stops in Kansas City (KS), Evansville, Peoria, Oxford (AL) and Indianapolis. The WPF is based in Oklahoma City and recently announced a third team called the Oklahoma City Spark will start play in 2023.
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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