Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
January 23, 2023 - Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL)
Arizona-Mexico League: The start of the proposed independent AZMXL has been pushed back from June 2023 to a first pitch in 2024. The league currently lists seven possible teams located in Arizona, Texas and northern Mexico (Sonora).
Northern League: The independent pre-professional Northern League, which operated as the summer-collegiate Midwest Collegiate League through the 2021 season, announced the Joliet (IL) Generals team has relocated to Griffith (IN) where it will be called the Griffith Generals starting with the 2023 season. The Northern League has six teams located in northern Indiana and the Chicago area.
Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa el Pacifco (CIBACOPA): The Mexican men's professional CIBACOPA, or Pacific Coast Basketball League, will start its 2023 season in early March with the same eight teams as last season. The season will run through May 2023.
National Professional Basketball Association: The men's semi-pro NPBA which is currently finishing up its 2022-23 fall-winter season, recently announced teams called the Detroit Torque, Toledo Lions and Linwood (IL) Bearcats have been added for the next season.
American Arena League 2: The new AAL2, which plans to start play in 2023 as a developmental league for the American Arena League, recently announced a team called the Delaware Bullsharks (Wilmington) has been added as a 2024 expansion team.
American Flag Football League: The AFFL, which is trying to organize a professional league with teams playing a 7-on-7 style of flag football, previously identified Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, New Orleans and Orlando as the inaugural cities for a proposed start in the spring of 2023. In October 2022, the AAFL announced the sale of two franchises to investors in Boston and Las Vegas. At that time, the AFFL stated it would not start league-play until it had sold four teams and if that did not happen, the league could hold some events in 2023 and push a regular season start to 2024. The AAFL was said to be in talks with a group in Pittsburgh about a possible franchise sale and it was still targeting markets in Florida and Texas.
American Spring Football League: The proposed springtime professional ASFL, which was planning to start play in 2023 with eight teams, has pushed back its start until 2024. This past October the ASFL announced the first two franchises would be located in Houston and Little Rock.
Federal Prospects Hockey League: A group representing the South Jersey Ice & Athletic Center is looking to raise funds for a new arena in the Atlantic City (NJ) area for a potential future FPHL team.
Professional Women's Hockey Players Association: The National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning is partnering with the four-team tour-based PWHPA for a 2022-23 tour stop at the AdventHealth Center Ice complex in Wesley Chapel (FL), north of Tampa, from February 24-26, 2023. Each of the four teams will play two games over the weekend event.
Major League Indoor Soccer: The men's minor professional MLIS, which started its inaugural 2022-23 season early last month, announced the membership of the Milwaukee-based team called the Brew City Legends has been transferred to a new local ownership group and the team will complete the season as the Brew City United. The Legends' owner is moving out of state, but will retain the Legends name and trademarks.
Major League Soccer: MLS announced the groupings for the month-long Leagues Cup tournament that will feature 47 teams-all 29 MLS teams and all 18 teams from Mexico's top Liga MX. The group-play round will feature 45 teams aligned in 4 regions with 15 three-team groups (4 Central groups, 4 East groups, 4 South groups and 3 West groups). Los Angeles FC (MLS champion) and Pachuca (Liga MX champion) will have a bye for the group-play round. The top two teams from each of the 15 groups, plus Los Angeles FC and Pachuca, will advance to the 32-team Knockout Stage. The Leagues Cup runs from July 15 to August 20, 2023 and both leagues will suspend regular-season play during this tournament.
National Indoor Soccer League: The professional NISL, which operates both a men's division and a women's division, started its second season this weekend with five teams each playing a 16-game schedule into April 2023. The NISL had four teams in its inaugural 2022-23 season with the Rome (GA) Gladiators playing as a travel-only team. The Rome Gladiators are sitting out the 2023 season and will return in 2024, but the league added two expansion teams called the Central Florida Crusaders (Orlando) and Tampa Bay Strikers. Each scheduled NISL game is a doubleheader featuring separate men's and women's matches.
USL W-League (United Soccer League): The women's pre-professional USL W-League announced teams called the Paisley Athletic FC (Kearny, NJ) and Virginia Marauders FC (Winchester) have been added as 2023 expansion teams. The Virginia Marauders FC is also adding a men's team in the pre-professional USL League Two.
American Ultimate Disc League: The men's professional AUDL recently announced the league's new expansion team in Houston will be called the Houston Havoc when it starts play in the 2023 season.
Major League Cricket: The professional MLC recently announced its inaugural 2023 season will feature six teams representing Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York and Washington (DC). A new cricket stadium under construction in Grand Prairie (TX) will be home to the Dallas team and will also be the league's primary venue for the 2023 season, which will feature 19 games over 18 days (July 13-30) including a championship match. Team names and additional venues are still to be announced. The MLC's affiliated developmental Minor League Cricket has been playing since 2020 and had 26 teams across the United States playing a 14-game summer season in 2022.
Major League Pickleball: The professional co-ed MLP has finalized the 24 teams for the upcoming 2023 season. Of the 12 teams previously announced for the top Premier Level, a new team called the St. Louis Shock has replaced the Cabo Vamos (Cabo San Lucas, Baja California) team. Of the 12 teams previously announced for the second-tier Challenger Level, a new team called the Orlando Squeeze has replaced the Valhalla Volleys. The MLP starts its 2023 season with the first Premier Level event next weekend.
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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