Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
September 11, 2023 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
Pecos League: With the recent loss of the Lancaster (CA) Sound Breakers team for the 2024 season, the independent Pecos League is talking about possibly reorganizing the Wasco (CA) Reserve team to keep the Pacific Division at eight teams for next season. The Wasco Reserve last played in the 2022 season, but the team played only a partial home schedule with 2022 home games played in Bakersfield (CA), home of the league's Bakersfield Train Robbers. The league wants the Reserve to return with home games in Wasco.
Northwest League: The Hillsboro (OR) Hops team from the High-A Northwest League is facing a shortfall in funding for a new ballpark and the team could be forced to leave if it cannot meet new ballpark and facilities standards issued by Major League Baseball. The Oregon Legislature failed to grant the team some of the requested funding for a new ballpark this summer. The team is facing a September 30 deadline to provide a ballpark update to Major League Baseball.
The Basketball League: The TBL expansion team based in Frederick (MD) will be called the Frederick Flying Cows when it starts play in the 2024 season. Other names up for fan voting included the Drache, Brew Bears and Howling Dwayyo.
East Coast Basketball League: The semi-pro ECBL announced a new team called the Hagerstown (MD) Warthogs has been added for the 2024 season. The league had the Hagerstown-based Hub City Hogs team in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, but the team dropped out during the 2023 season with a 4-1 record.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA G-League announced its 2023-24 season schedule that will feature 31 teams each playing a 50-game schedule from November 10, 2023, through March 30, 2024. The season will again start with a Showcase Cup tournament in November and December followed by a 34-game regular season. The G-League had 30 teams last season but the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers will own and operate a new G-League team called the Rip City Remix, which was added to the Western Conference and will play on the campus of the University of Portland in North Portland. Last season's Lakeland (FL) Magic relocated to become the Osceola (FL) Magic for 2023-24. The Indiana Pacers have moved their Fort Wayne Mad Ants affiliate to Indianapolis as the Indiana Mad Ants for the 2023-24 season and the team will receive a new name when it moves to a new arena in the Indianapolis suburb of Noblesville (IN) for the 2024-25 season. With the addition of Portland, the G-League is up to 31 teams, which includes two unaffiliated teams-the G-League Ignite and the Capitanes de Mexico City. Of the 30 NBA teams, only the Phoenix Suns do not currently have a G-League affiliate.
Women's Basketball Development Association: Missing from the summer women's basketball scene in 2023 was the professional developmental WBDA, which operated last summer with 15 teams across the United States and aligned in an eight-team Eastern Conference and a seven-team Western Conference. The league started play in 2005 as the Blue-Chip Women's Basketball League before changing to the WBDA ahead of the 2019 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, recently completed player tryouts for four yet-to-be-named teams in Nashville, Boston, Dallas, and Las Vegas as part of the league's inaugural 2024 season.
American 7 Football League: The men's semi-pro A7FL, which is a 7-on-7 full contact outdoor football league with players not wearing wear hard pads or helmets, recently announced a four-team Indianapolis Division will be added for the 2024 season. The league completed its 2023 season in late May with 25 teams across the United States.
American Women's Football League: The new semi-pro full-contact AWFL is organizing for a start in 2024 and has announced eight potential teams for its inaugural season. These teams include the Huntsville (AL) Tigers, Delaware Diamonds, Dallas Prime, Louisiana Bayou Storm Surge (Baton Rouge), Virginia Lady Eagles, Carolina Queens, Houston Power, and Carolina Scorpion.
National Football League: The new ownership of the NFL's Washington Commanders confirmed this week the team is not considering changing the team's name back to the Washington Redskins as requested by a Native American group.
The Arena League: The new six-on-six indoor TAL announced its inaugural 2024 season schedule will feature four teams each playing eight games from June 1 through July 27, 2024. The teams will be the Duluth (MN) Harbor Monsters, Kansas City (MO) Goats, Waterloo (IA) Woo, and Ozarks Lunkers (Springfield, MO).
North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL started its 2023-24 season this week with 32 teams aligned in four divisions-a nine-team South, an eight-team Midwest, a nine-team East and a six-team Central. Each team will play 60 games through April 13, 2024. All 29 teams have returned from last season and the league added three new teams called the Colorado Grit (Greeley), the Rochester (NY) Junior Americans and the New Hampshire Mountain Kings (Hooksett). The Cloquet-based Minnesota Wilderness are playing its September home games in Proctor (MN) since repairs to the cooling tower are a month behind schedule at the team's home arena in Cloquet.
Ligue Nord Américaine de Hockey: The Quebec-based minor professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, will play its 2023-24 season starting later this month with only six teams. An expansion team called the Bâtisseurs de Montcalm was added as seventh team last season but it could not find new investors for a second season and the league dissolved the franchise and held a player dispersal draft.
Saskatchewan Junior Female Hockey League: The new Under-22 SJFHL plans to start its inaugural 2023-24 season on October 1 with six teams called the Lumsden Lynx, Outlook Mountain Ice Hawks, Regina Hockey Club, Saskatoon Prairie Blaze, Southland Impact (Swift Current) and Western Prairie Klippers (Kindersley).
Union Hockey League: The proposed new Senior-A semi-pro UHL, which was originally called the North Eastern Hockey League, has announced the inaugural 2023-24 home schedules for the eight teams that will be aligned in four-team Eastern and Western divisions. Each team will play 16 home and away games from November 4, 2023, through March 31, 2024. The Eastern Division will feature the Boston Gold Kings, Holyoke (MA) Papermen (originally the Royals), North Shore Nighthawks (Middleton, MA), and Poughkeepsie (NY) Polar Bears (originally the Rockland Polar Bears). The Western Division will have the Midwest Mammoths (Dyer, IN), Niagara Falls (NY) Buffalos, Pittsburgh River Monsters, and Motor City Apollos (Chelsea, MI, originally the Soo Apollos of Sault Ste. Marie, MI).
USL League Two (United Soccer League): The men's pre-professional USL League Two announced the Hill Country Lobos (Kyle, TX) team has been added for the 2024 season.
USL League One (United Soccer League): The men's Division-III professional USL League One announced a franchise has been granted to Portland (ME). A group called USL to Portland plans to privately fund renovations to the city's 6,000-seat Fitzpatrick Stadium with the new team expected to start play in the 2025 season. When a Portland USL League One team was first proposed in 2019, Portland United was mentioned as a name for the team.
Canadian Premier League: The proposed new Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) expansion franchise in the men's professional CPL faced a major setback as the group trying to bring a CPL team to the city has pulled back efforts to build a new 5,500-seat stadium for the team on the site of the Marquis Downs racetrack. The Saskatoon group was awarded a CPL franchise in 2021 conditioned on building a new stadium for the team. Stadium groundbreaking had been proposed for this year with the new team to start play in the 2024 season.
Athletes Unlimited - Volleyball: The women's Athletes Unlimited has posted the five-week schedule for the third season of its four-team women's professional indoor volleyball league that will run from October 6 through November 3, 2023. The league has switched to a fall season and moved to Legacy Park (formerly Bell Bank Park) in Mesa (AZ). The league played a February-March season in 2021 and a March-April season in 2022, with both of those seasons played at the Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas. Along with the switch of the regular season to the fall, an Athletes Unlimited Volleyball Exhibition Tour was organized from March to April 2023 with 14 top professional players visiting various top college programs and playing exhibition matches on their campuses.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking the changes in the sports world's leagues, teams, and nicknames since April 2007.
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