Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
November 6, 2023 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
Carolina League: The city of Spartanburg (SC) held the groundbreaking ceremony this week for a downtown ballpark to be built as the new home for the Down East Wood Ducks (Kinston, NC) of the Low-A Carolina League. The relocated Wood Ducks are expected to start playing in Spartanburg for the 2025 season. The team has selected a new name that will be announced in April 2024.
Frontier League: The independent Frontier League's new 2024 "New England" expansion team to be based in Brockton (MA) announced five nickname finalists for fan voting-the Nor'easters, Grinders, Chowdaheads, Knockouts, and Chowdah Monstahs. Voting ran through November 4.
United Shore Professional Baseball League: The independent developmental USPBL announced its 2024 season schedule will feature the same four teams as last season with a total of 70 games all played at Jimmy John's Field in Utica (MI) from May 17 through August 31, 2024. The USPBL features the Utica Unicorns and Eastside Diamond Hoppers in the East and the Westside Woolly Mammoths and Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers in the West.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA recently started its 2023-24 season and currently lists 118 teams aligned in four regions (East, Central, South, and West). Each region is further aligned into Black, Blue, Red, and White divisions. The 2023-24 season runs through early March 2024.
Women's National Basketball Association: The WNBA announced it has dropped Portland (OR) from consideration for a proposed 2025 expansion team at this time due to upcoming renovation projects at the Moda Center, which is home to the National Basketball Association's Portland Trail Blazers and was to serve as home to a new WNBA team. The WNBA plays most of its season in the summer during the NBA's off-season but arena renovations were scheduled for two consecutive summers in 2026 and 2027.
American Indoor Football: The reborn AIF announced its 2024 schedule will include seven teams each playing an eight-game league schedule from March 24 through June 8, 2024, plus one non-league game still to be announced. The 2024 schedule will include the Amarillo Venom, Columbus (GA) Lions, Cedar Rapids (IA) Riverkings, Harrisburg (PA) Stampede, Mississippi Raiders (Batesville), Corpus Christi Tritons, and an Albany (GA) team listed as the Rivergators. The AIF announced the Beaumont (TX) Renegades team is still negotiating an arena lease and could play some exhibition games in 2024 but will join for a full schedule in 2025. The previously announced West Virginia Miners (Wheeling) team was granted a release from the AIF due to an ownership change. Another AIF team called the River City Rage, originally planned for Council Bluffs (IA), announced plans to move to Coralville (IA) for a start in 2025.
American Arena League 2: The professional developmental AAL2 announced the addition of the ATX (Austin) Wolverines as the fifth team for the league's new 2024 Texas Division. The league also announced the Wheeling (WV) Miners team has been added for the 2024 season. A Wheeling-based team called the West Virginia Miners was previously announced as a new team for the return on the American Indoor Football (AIF) in 2024 but the team was granted a release by the AIF due to an ownership change. The AAL2 plans to have 13 teams participating in the 2024 season.
Arena Football League: The third version of the AFL announced teams called the Nashville Kats and the Louisiana Voodoo (Lake Charles) have been added as the 12th and 13th teams for the league's inaugural season that will start in 2024. The Nashville Kats name was used by two separate teams in the original AFL. The first Kats team played five seasons (1997-2001) before moving to Atlanta as the Georgia Force, while the second Kats team played three seasons (2005-07) before folding. The Voodoo name was used by previous teams called the New Orleans VooDoo that played four seasons (2004-05, 2007-08) in the original AFL and seven seasons (2009-15) in the second version of the AFL. Lake Charles had previous indoor teams called the Lake Charles Land Sharks (2001-04), the Southwest Louisiana Swashbucklers (2005), and the Louisiana Swashbucklers (2006-13).
American Women's Football League: The new semi-pro full-tackle AWFL is organizing for a start in 2024 and recently announced teams called the South Carolina Dames (Columbia) and the River City Warriors (San Antonio) as new members.
Federal Prospects Hockey League: The owner of the FPHL's former Danville (IL) Dashers team has expressed interest in bringing a team back to the David S. Palmer Arena in Danville for the 2024-25 season. The Dashers played nine seasons in the FPHL (2011-20) and sat out the league's shortened 2020-21 season. The Danville arena board replaced the Dashers with an SPHL team called the Vermilion County Bobcats, which started play in 2021 and folded in February 2023. The arena board recently issued a request for a lease proposal to potential owners interested in bringing a team from the ECHL, SPHL, FPHL, or the junior-level United States Premier Hockey League to Danville for the 2024-25 season.
National Junior Hockey League: Canada's independent NJHL, which recently started its inaugural 2023-24 season with six teams based in the province of Alberta, announced it has reached an agreement to place a team in Crowsnest Pass (Alberta) starting with the 2024-25 season. The first of three NJHL regular season showcase games scheduled for this season in Crowsnest Pass was played this weekend.
Major League Indoor Soccer: The men's MLIS announced its 2023-24 season schedule will feature six teams aligned in a single-table format with each team playing a 12-game schedule from December 16, 2023, through April 7, 2024. The MLIS had 12 teams aligned in 3 regional divisions last season but only the Chicago Mustangs, Cleveland Crunch, Rapid City FC (Grand Rapids, MI), and Omaha Kings will return. The Colorado Bucks SC (Littleton/Denver), and Ohio Extreme (Lima) were added as expansion teams for the 2023-24 season.
MLS NEXT Pro: Major League Soccer's developmental reserve league known as the MLS NEXT Pro announced the Jacksonville Armada FC is looking to join the league as one of its independent teams in the 2025 season. The team plans to break ground on a new soccer-specific stadium in January 2024. The Jacksonville Armada played professionally for three seasons (2015-17) in the former North American Soccer League and has operated the amateur Jacksonville Armada U-23 team in the National Premier Soccer League for the past few seasons.
National Premier Soccer League: Over the past couple of months, the men's Tier-I amateur NPSL has announced the addition of several teams for the 2024 season. These teams include the Columbus (GA) United FC, DMV Elite (Hyattsville, MD), Hickory (NC) FC, Port City FC (Wilmington, NC), Siouxland United FC (Sioux City, IA), Wisconsin Conquerors (Marshfield), Bristol Rhythm AFC (Tennessee and Virginia), and the Southern Indiana Guardians FC (New Albany and other neighboring cities). The Wisconsin Conquerors previously announced plans to place an indoor team in the Major Arena Soccer League 2 starting with the 2024-25 season.
USL Super League (United Soccer League): The proposed women's Division-I professional USL Super League, which has targeted eight markets for teams that will start play in August 2024 and follow the fall-to-summer international soccer calendar, has announced the Spokane Zephyr FC and Tampa Bay Sun FC as the names of two of its first-season teams. The league's proposed Charlotte team recently closed out fan voting on either the Carolina Ascent or Carolina Breeze as the team's name.
USL W-League (United Soccer League): The women's pre-professional USL W-League announced the addition of a Texas-based Lone Star Division for the 2024 season. The four teams announced so far in this division include the Houston Sur, AHFC Royals (Houston), Challenge Soccer Club (Tomball, TX), and the Lonestar SC (Austin). The USL W-League also announced the Fayetteville (NC) Fury women's team will join the league for the 2024 season. The Fayetteville Fury women's team and men's team play an indoor season as part of the co-ed National Indoor Soccer League.
Northwoods League Softball: The proposed new women's summer-collegiate softball league known as Northwoods League Softball, which is being organized by the men's Northwoods League summer-collegiate baseball league, announced Minot (ND) as the location for the league's third team in the inaugural 2024 season. The team will be operated by the Minot Hot Tots of the men's Northwoods League. La Crosse (WI) and Mankato (MN) were recently announced as the two other men's Northwoods League markets to have teams in the new women's softball league.
Pro Volleyball Federation: The new PVF indoor women's professional volleyball league announced its inaugural 2024 season will start on January 24, 2024, with seven teams each playing a 24-match schedule through May 12, 2024. Teams include the Atlanta Beat, Columbus (OH) Fury, Grand Rapids (MI) Rise, Omaha Supernovas, Orlando Valkyries, and yet-to-be-named teams in San Diego and Las Vegas.
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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