Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
March 13, 2023 - Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL)
Atlantic League: The Lexington (KY) Legends of the independent Atlantic League came under new ownership after the 2022 season and announced this week the team has changed its name to the Lexington Counter Clocks ahead of the 2023 season. The name pertains to the counter clockwise direction of horse racing established in Kentucky as a way of declaring independence from the British and their clockwise direction of horse racing.
Texas League: The Amarillo Sod Poodles of the Double-A Texas League announced the team will adopt the alternate identity of the Amarillo Calf Fries for six games during the 2023 season. These games will celebrate the history of cowboys and calf fries was a name for the fried calf testicles eaten by cowboys.
Eastern League: The Akron RubberDucks of the Double-A Eastern League announced the team will again play a game during the 2023 season as the Akron Black Tyrites in honor of the city's contribution to the Negro Leagues.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced an expansion team called the Raleigh (NC) Rockets will be added to the Mid-Atlantic Division for the 2023-24 season.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The ten-team minor professional CEBL, which started in 2019 with all six teams owned and operated by the league, has sold the league's Edmonton Stingers franchise to an individual ownership group. The league's Scarborough Shooting Stars, Vancouver Bandits, Calgary Surge and Winnipeg Sea Bears also have outside ownership. The league organizer operates the Niagara River Lions and controls the group that owns the remaining four teams.
Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): The Mexican men's professional CIBACOPA, or Pacific Coast Basketball League, started its 2023 season this week with the same eight teams as last season and again aligned in a single-table format. Each team will play a 34-game schedule through May 13, 2023. Teams include the Astros de Jalisco (Guadalajara, Jalisco), Caballeros de Culiacan (Sinaloa), Halcones de Ciudad Obregon (Sonora), Ostioneros de Guaymas (Sonora), Pioneros de Los Mochis (Sinaloa), Rayos de Hermosillo (Sonora), Venados de Mazatlan (Sinaloa) and Zonkeys de Tijuana (Baja California).
Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional-Femenil: Mexico's LNBPF (Mexican Women's National Professional Basketball League), which is affiliated with the top men's LNBP, announced its 2023 season will run from May 4 to August 20, 2023 and feature 11 teams. The league operated with eight teams last season, but has added three teams called the Halcones Rojos de Veracruz, Correcaminos de la UAT Victoria and the Freseros de Irapuato.
Great Lakes Arena Alliance: The new GLAA started its inaugural 2023 season last weekend with five teams called the Chicago Power, Battle Creek (MI) Smoke, West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon), Ohio Blitz (Celina) and the Southern Michigan Apex, which was announced for the Kalamazoo/Portage area but also appears to be based in Battle Creek with the Smoke for this season.
The Arena League: The proposed new six-,man TAL announced Springfield (MO) as its first franchise location. The league plans to launch in June 2024 with four teams playing 6-on-6 indoor football. Little Rock, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Rockford (IL), Dubuque (IA), Duluth (MN), Wichita Falls (TX), Waterloo (IA) and Rochester (MN) have been mentioned for possible teams, but the league wants to keep teams in the same region to minimize travel costs.
Eastern Hockey League: The Tier-III junior-level EHL recently announced the Flemington (NJ) Ice Arena has purchased the Protec Junior Ducks (Morris Township, NJ) and the team will move to Flemington where it will become the New Jersey Bears starting with the 2023-24 season.
Southern Professional Hockey League: The SPHL's Pensacola Ice Flyers were renamed the Pensacola Bushwackers for a game this weekend as a tribute to the city's popular drink called the Bushwacker. As part of a Rebrand Night promotion, the SPHL's Peoria Rivermen played a game this weekend as the Peoria Flying Carp.
Major League Soccer: MLS announced the groupings for the group-play portion of the 2023 Leagues Cup tournament, which will run from July 15 to August 20 and feature 47 teams-29 from MLS and 18 from Mexico's Liga MX. The MLS Champion Los Angeles FC and Pachuca from the Liga MX will receive byes for the group-play, while the remaining 45 teams will be aligned in 15 three-team groups across West, Central, South and East regions.
MLS NEXT Pro (Major League Soccer): Major League Soccer's developmental reserve league known as the MLS NEXT Pro announced the Rochester New York FC will not be part of the league's second season in 2023. The club failed to obtain the necessary financing for the 2023 season. The Rochester New York FC played in the 2022 season as the league's only independent team and was not affiliated with an MLS team. The club was listed to be part of a seven-team Northeast Division for the 2023 season.
National Women's Soccer League: The women's professional NWSL announced the Utah Royals FC (Salt Lake City) will return as an expansion team and become the league's 13th team for the 2024 season. The former Utah Royals team, which had been operated by the owners of Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake, folded after three seasons (2018-20) with players transferred to a 2021 Kansas City expansion team. When the Real Salt Lake MLS team changed hands in late 2020, the new ownership was granted the rights to restart the NWSL's Utah Royals in the future at a reduced franchise fee.
USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Division-II professional USL Championship started its 2023 season this week with 24 teams aligned in 12-team Eastern and Western conferences. Each team will play a 34-game schedule through October 14, 2023. The league had 27 teams last season, but the Major League Soccer affiliates called the Atlanta United 2, Los Angeles Galaxy II and New York Red Bulls II left and moved to the MLS NEXT Pro league for the 2023 season. The league's Oklahoma City Energy FC sat out the 2022 season and is again sitting out the 2023 season due to stadium issues.
League One Volleyball: The women's professional indoor LOVB (pronounced LOVE) recently announced Atlanta and Houston as its first pro markets when the league starts play in 2024.
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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