Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
November 21, 2022 - Atlantic League (AtL)
Atlantic League: The independent Atlantic League announced its 2023 season schedule that will again feature ten teams aligned in five-team North and South divisions. A new yet-to-be-named team based in Frederick (MD) will replace the Kentucky Wild Health Genomes (Lexington, KY) in the South Division. The league's Lexington Legends operated the Genomes as a second Lexington team during the 2022 season to keep an even number of teams in the league. The Legends were sold in the off-season and the second Genomes team was dropped. The ownership of the Frederick Keys team in the Major League Baseball Draft League will own and operate the new Frederick Atlantic League team, which will play 48 of its 126 games at home while the other nine teams will play 63 home games. Both Frederick teams will share the local Harry Grove Stadium and the Keys will play 40 home games as part of its 80-game schedule.
Northwoods League: The summer-collegiate Northwoods League announced the Thunder Bay Border Cats (Ontario, Canada) will return to the league in 2023 after a three-year absence due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Northwoods League, which operated with 22 teams in 2022, will also add the expansion Minot (ND) Hot Tots for the 2023 season and grow to 24 teams. A 2022 travel-only team called the Minnesota Mud Puppies will return in 2023 to keep the league at an even number of teams.
Western Canadian Baseball League: The summer-collegiate WCBL announced the Edmonton Prospects team will not participate in the 2023 season as the team waits for construction of its new ballpark that is now set to be completed in 2024. The Prospects played home games at several venues in the 2022 season.
West Coast League: The summer-collegiate WCL announced its 2023 season schedule will feature the same 16 teams as last season and will again be aligned in eight-team North and South divisions. The WCL includes five teams in British Columbia (Canada), one in Alberta (Canada), four in Oregon and six in Washington. Each team will play a 54-game schedule from early June to early August 2023.
Women's National D-League: The developmental women's basketball league known as the WNDL is planning to play a 2022-23 season starting next month. Although the league lists 12 teams in 3 four-team divisions, not all teams are listed on the 2022-23 schedule. WNDL teams include the Connecticut Stars, Westchester (NY) Shooting Stars, New Jersey Storm and Philadelphia Fever in the North; Florida Sol, Georgia Pursuit, D.C. Eclipes (yes Eclipes) and Carolina Storm in the South; and the Minnesota Reign, Milwaukee Buckettes, Ohio Sweeps and Kentucky Vipers in the Midwest.
United States Football League: As the eight-team professional springtime USFL prepares for its second season in 2023, the league announced a team called the Memphis Showboats will replace the Tampa Bay Bandits in the league's South Division. A team called the Memphis Showboats was part of the original USFL for the 1984 and 1985 seasons. The Tampa Bay Bandits team will be on hiatus in 2023 and could return in the future, so the Tampa Bay coach and players will switch to the Showboats in 2023. The Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis will host 2023 home games involving both the Showboats and the Houston Gamblers, while Birmingham (AL), which hosted all USFL games in 2022, will be home to the South Division's Birmingham Americans and New Orleans Breakers. The USFL is still seeking one or possibly two stadiums to host the four North Division teams in 2023. Detroit and Philadelphia are reported to be under consideration. The USFL's 2023 season will start in April.
Canadian Football League: The CFL commissioner gave his "state of the league" address ahead of the league's Grey Cup championship game and stated expansion to a tenth team to be located in Atlantic Canada is a priority, but no timeline was given. Over the past few years, a potential ownership group has been trying to establish a team called the Atlantic Schooners, to be based in Halifax (Nova Scotia), but this has been stalled due to delays in financing construction of a suitable stadium.
United Football League: The proposed new UFL, which evolved from the failed attempt of the National Gridiron League and is billed as America's premier spring football league, is still planning to start play in April 2023 with 14-teams aligned in seven-team Eastern and Western conferences. The league's St. Louis Stampede recently announced plans to build an 8,400-seat temporary football stadium across the river in Cahokia Heights (IL). The team will play in this stadium for two seasons before construction begins on a permanent stadium at the site. The league's Oklahoma City Wranglers announced plans to build a 10,000-seat stadium for the team on the site of a former shopping mall.
XFL: The outdoor professional spring-season XFL, which plans to restart play in February 2023, held its player draft this week in Las Vegas to stock the eight teams that will be part of the 2023 season.
Professional Women's Hockey Players Association: The four-team tour-based PWHPA announced it will hold an All-Star event on December 11, 2022 in Ottawa (Ontario) in partnership with the National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators. PWHPA teams will play regular-season games in Ottawa and nearby Kemptville (Ontario) and Gatineau (Quebec) on the two days leading up to the All-Star event.
National Premier Soccer League: The United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) has designated the men's NPSL as Tier-1, which is the top designation within the USASA. The NPSL is the only men's national league within the USASA.
National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL announced its 2023 season schedule this week and it will feature the same 12 teams as last season again aligned in a single-table format. Instead of starting the season with its Challenge Cup tournament as it did the past two seasons, the Challenge Cup will run concurrently with the 2023 regular-season schedule. The regular season will start on March 25 and end in September 2023 with each team playing 22 games. The Challenge Cup will start in April 2023 with the 12 teams aligned into four-team groups. Each team will play at least six games as part of group-play with the top four teams moving to the semi-finals followed by a championship in September.
USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Division-II professional USL Championship announced the league's expansion team to be based in Providence (RI) will be called the Rhode Island FC when it starts play in the 2024 season. The league's Oklahoma City Energy FC, which sat out the 2022 season because of renovations to its home at Taft Stadium, announced the team will not be able to return in 2023 because its home field does not meet the league's field dimension requirements and no other venue in the area met league requirements. A proposed new soccer stadium is to be built for the team, but it will not be ready until 2026. The Energy FC will maintain its membership in the USL Championship and explore other possible solutions until it future home is completed.
USL Academy League (United Soccer League): The USL Academy League, which features players 15-20 years of age and establishes a youth-to-professional pathway, announced it will start a girl's division in 2023. The USL Academy system connects elite youth soccer organizations to local senior teams in the men's USL Championship, USL League One and USL League Two, and the women's USL W-League and USL Super League, which plans to start play in 2023.
Major League Rugby: The professional MLR, which plays the rugby-union style with 15 players aside, announced its 2023 season schedule, which will feature 12 teams aligned in a six-team Eastern Conference and a six-team Western Conference with each team playing 16 games from February 17 to June 18, 2023. The MLR also announced its new 12th team based in Chicago will be called the Chicago Hounds when it starts play in 2023. Chicago was placed in the Western Conference that lost teams in Austin and Los Angeles since last season. The Chicago Hounds was the name of a former minor United Hockey League team that played only one season (2006-07).
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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