Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
May 22, 2023 - Eastern League (EL)
Eastern League: As part of a promotion that started in 2019, the Portland (ME) Sea Dogs of the Double-A Eastern League will be renamed the Maine Whoopies for a game next month to honor the whoopie pie as the official state treat of Maine. The team will take other food-related names this season as the Maine Red Snappers for a game in June, the Maine Bean Suppahs in July, and the Maine Clam Bakes in August.
Intercounty Baseball League: Canada's Southern Ontario-based IBL recently started its 2023 season with the same eight teams as last season and again aligned in a single-table format. The IBL includes both college and former professional players. Each team plays a 42-game schedule through August 20, 2023.
Southern Winter League: A new professional development baseball league called the Southern Winter League (SWL) plans to start play this September with four teams playing games at the Nuevo Estadio de Beisbol in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico, which is across the border from Yuma (AZ). The four SWL teams will be called the Yellow Sox, Maples, Samurai and the SLRC Datileros.
Western Association of Professional Baseball Clubs: The proposed new independent WAPB never got off the ground this season as planned. Based on the last update in August 2022, the league stated there were six teams set for 2023 with market reservations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. One of those teams was the previously announced Henderson (NV) Hoo, which was to play home games at the College of Southern Nevada. The other five teams, two of which would be league-owned, were to be announced over the next few weeks but that never happened. The WAPB was first announced in 2019 with plans to start play in 2020 with eight teams playing a 78-game schedule. Last year, the league stated the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic delayed its development.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced the Houston-based HBCU Movement team has joined the ABA for the 2023-24 season and it will feature all Historically Black College & University players. Another team called the Edgewood 96ers, based in the town of Ninety Six (SC) just east of Greenwood (SC), will play a limited schedule as part of the ABA starting in January 2024.
Women's National Basketball Association: The professional WNBA started its 2023 season this weekend with the same 12 teams as last season and again aligned in six-team Eastern and Western conferences. Each team will play a 40-game regular-season through September 10, 2023. The league has talked about possible expansion by the 2025 season with Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, Portland (OR), Philadelphia, Toronto and the Bay Area reported to be some of the markets under consideration. The WNBA has had a total of 12 teams since the 2010 season and the same 12 teams since the San Antonio Stars moved to become the Las Vegas Aces for the 2018 season.
American Flag Football League: The AFFL, which has been trying to organize a men's professional league with teams playing a 7-on-7 style of flag football, has pushed back it proposed start to 2024 with four teams. The league has sold franchises to investors in Boston, Dallas and Las Vegas, but does not want to start until at least four franchises are sold. The league previously identified Atlanta, New Orleans and Orlando as other potential markets. Also, the AFFL recently announced plans to start a women's professional flag football league in 2025.
XFL: After being purchased out of bankruptcy and restarting play in a 2023 season, the eight-team XFL recently announced it will return for a 2024 season. The XFL announced plans to hold a Rookie Draft next month for the 2024 season. The league is expected to remain at eight teams next season, but there has been speculation the league could expand for 2025.
Eastern Hockey League: The Boston area's junior-level Bridgewater Bandits team announced it will be moving its Tier-III teams from the United States Premier Hockey League's Premier Conference and Elite Conference to the Tier-III EHL starting with the 2023-24 season. The Bandits will operate Tier-III teams at both the EHL level and the lower-level EHL Premier level. The Bandits previously operated in the EHL as the Boston Bandits for four seasons (2013-17) before moving to the USPHL. The Bandits came under new ownership prior to the 2020-21 season and were renamed the Bridgewater Bandits.
Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League: The Leamington Flyers of Canada's Junior-B GOJHL are leaving the league and moving up a level to the Junior-A Ontario Junior Hockey League starting with the 2023-24 season. The GOJHL's Thorold Blackhawks team, which was forced to play its 2022-23 season in Port Colborne due to construction at its home arena, is making a permanent move to Port Colborne where the team will be renamed prior to the 2023-24 season.
National Hockey League: Voters in the city of Tempe (AZ) this week rejected propositions on a new development that was to include a new arena being built for the NHL's Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes have struggled to get a new arena built over the past several years and were forced to play this season at the 5,000-seat Mullet Arena on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe. The Coyotes will return to the Mullet Arena next season, but the future of the team in Arizona is uncertain without a new arena. The Coyotes plan to consider other possible sites for an arena. There has also been talk of possible relocation with Houston, Atlanta and Salt Lake City mentioned as possibilities.
Major League Soccer: MLS announced an expansion franchise has been granted to San Diego and it will become the league's 30th team when it starts play in the 2025 season at the 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium on the campus of San Diego State University. The team's name and crest will be announced later. San Diego is currently home to the San Diego Loyal FC in the Division-II professional USL Championship league, and that team's officials stated the Loyal will remain in the city.
USL Super League (United Soccer League): The proposed women's professional USL Super League, which plans to start play in August 2024 with 10 to 12 teams and follow the fall-to-summer international soccer calendar, announced 8 target cities for their franchises with additional first-season cities to be announced. The initial cities include Charlotte, Tampa, Dallas/Fort Worth, Lexington (KY), Phoenix, Spokane (WA), Tucson and Washington (DC). The league also announced Chattanooga (TN), Oakland, Madison (WI), Indianapolis and Jacksonville are under consideration for future expansion once pending soccer stadiums are completed in those cities. The Super League was originally announced as a Division-II professional league, but is now applying for Division-I status under the U.S. Soccer Federation. This would put it in competition for players with the current spring-summer Division-I National Women's Soccer League.
League1 Alberta: Canada's developing new Division-III pro-am provincial league known as League1 Alberta recently started a 2023 exhibition series that features five men's teams and five women's teams each playing an eight-game schedule through July 2023. The league is part of League1 Canada, which oversees similar provincial Division-III leagues in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. League1 Alberta plans to start with its inaugural full-season schedule in 2024.
Northwoods Women's Softball League: The men's summer-collegiate baseball league known as the Northwoods League announced it will start a new women's summer-collegiate softball league in 2024 with teams playing at Northwoods League ballparks. The teams and locations are still to be announced. Teams will each play a 40-game schedule from June through early August. The 24-team Northwoods League has teams located throughout the North Central United States and one team in Ontario, Canada.
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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