Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
November 20, 2023 - Pecos League (Pecos)
Frontier League: The independent Frontier League's expansion team to be based in Brockton (MA) announced it will be called the New England Chowdahheads with it starts play in the 2024 season. Other nicknames up for fan voting included the Nor'easters, Grinders, Knockouts, and Chowdah Monstahs.
Pecos League: The independent Pecos League announced the Monterey (CA) Amberjacks will not return for the 2024 season. The league also announced a new team called the North Platte (NE) 80s has been added for the 2024 season. A summer-collegiate team called the North Platte Plainsmen was part of the 2022 Independence Baseball League, switched to an unaffiliated schedule in 2023, and was recently put up for sale after the 2023 season.
Major League Baseball: Major League Baseball approved the relocation of the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas where a new 33,000-seat stadium is to be built with completion expected for the 2028 season. The team's lease in Oakland expires after the 2024 season and it is uncertain where the team will play until the new stadium is completed.
Appalachian Collegiate League: The summer-collegiate Appy League, which operates under the Major League Baseball and USA Baseball Prospect Development Pipeline, announced a new team based in Huntington (WV) has been added as the league's tenth team for the 2024 season. Huntington replaces the loss of the Princeton (WV) Whistlepigs team that shut down after the 2023 season. The league announced its 2024 season schedule will again feature ten teams each playing a 48-game schedule from early June through July 2023. The Huntington team will announce its name in the near future and is currently listed as Tri-State Baseball (Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia) on the 2024 schedule.
South Atlantic League: The Rome (GA) Braves of the high Class-A SAL announced the team's new name will be the Rome Emperors. The new name and logo have a dual application based on the Roman emperors and the emperor penguins. The team is an affiliate of Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves and became the Rome Braves with the relocation of the Macon (GA) Braves for the 2003 season.
Basketball Super League: The new men's professional BSL held its first Player Draft Combine this weekend to stock the six Canadian teams that will comprise the league for its inaugural 2023-24 season starting late next month. The BSL will include the four Ontario-based teams-Sudbury Five, London Lightning, Windsor Express, and Kitchener-Waterloo Titans-that comprised the 2023 season of the National Basketball League of Canada, plus the Newfoundland Rogues (St. John's) and Montreal Toundra teams that were part of the 2023 season in The Basketball League, which is affiliated with the BSL.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): As the NBA held a regular-season game in Mexico City last week, the NBA commissioner stated future expansion of the developmental G-League could grow the league's presence in Mexico and other Latin America countries. The G-League has the current Mexico City Capitanes team, which is not affiliated with an NBA team. Mexico City was once again mentioned as a possible future home to an NBA franchise.
Professional Basketball Association: The men's semi-pro PBA started its 2023-24 Winter Season earlier this month and currently has nine participating teams aligned in Mid-Atlantic and Southeast divisions. The league also has a couple of women's teams playing as part of a Ladies PBA.
Arena Football League: The new third version of the AFL announced the Minnesota Myth (Minneapolis-St. Paul) and the Georgia Force (Atlanta area) as its 15th and 16th teams. The original AFL had a team called the Minnesota Fighting Pike for one season in 1996. Teams called the Georgia Force were part of the original AFL for seven seasons (2002-08) and the second AFL for two seasons (2011-12). The AFL finalized its 2024 team alignment that will feature 16 teams in 4 four-team divisions (East, Central, South, and West). The East Division will feature all new teams called the Albany (NY) Firebirds, Minnesota Myth, Nashville Kats, and Philadelphia Soul. The Central Division has the new Iowa Rampage (Council Bluffs) and the Salina (KS) Liberty, Southwest Kansas Storm (Dodge City), and Wichita ICT Regulators all from Champions Indoor Football (CIF). The South includes the new Georgia Force and Louisiana Voodoo (Lake Charles), the Orlando Predators from the National Arena League (NAL), and the new West Texas Desert Hawks (Odessa), which replaced the 2023 NAL's West Texas Warbirds in that market. The West Division has the new Oregon Blackbears (Salem) and Washington Wolfpack (Everett) along with the Rapid City (SD) Marshalls and Billings (MT) Outlaws from the CIF. The league also announced ten-game schedules for each team but did not provide any game dates. The league is expected to start in April 2024.
Canadian Football League: As the CFL continues to try to establish a tenth team in Atlantic Canada, the league commissioner stated the league has identified a highly qualified potential owner for a team in Halifax (Nova Scotia). The rights to a Halifax CFL team to be called the Atlantic Schooners was granted back in 2018 but it was slowed by the coronavirus pandemic and died due to the lack of local government funding for a stadium. If progress is not made on this latest effort for an Atlantic Canada team, the commissioner has threatened to consider another location such as Quebec City for expansion.
ECHL: The ECHL's Savannah Ghost Pirates were renamed the Savannah Golden Ghosts for three games this weekend as they honored their National Hockey League parent club the Vegas Golden Knights and the Golden Knights' recent Stanley Cup championship.
Professional Women's Hockey League: The new PWHL has yet to announce names for its six charter teams (Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto) so they will be identified by their markets on uniforms when play starts in January 2024. The league filed trademark registrations for six potential team names but provided no specifics on an announcement for the names or the season schedule.
SPHL: The SPHL's Fayetteville (NC) Marksmen were renamed the Cape Fear Catfish for a game this week as part of the team's Catfish Country Music Night.
Union Hockey League: The proposed new Senior-A semi-pro UHL, which was originally called the North Eastern Hockey League, has posted its inaugural season schedule that will feature 16 teams each playing 19-20 games from January 6 through April 28, 2024. The UHL made some changes in the Eastern Division as the Mid-Atlantic Fury (East Rutherford, NJ) dropped out and was replaced by the Norwich (CT) Whalers while the Hudson Valley Vipers team replaced the Poughkeepsie (NY) Polar Bears in that city. In the Western Division, the Midwest Mammoths (Dyer, IN) changed their name to the Chicago Mammoths and the Motor City Apollos (Chelsea, MI) are now the Motor City Generals (Royal Oak, MI).
Major Arena Soccer League 2: The MASL2, which is the developmental league for the Major Arena Soccer League, posted the 2023-24 season schedule that now features only 13 teams in 3 divisions. The four-team West Division is gone with only the new El Paso Rhinos remaining and moving to a five-team Midwest. Teams will play 12 games within divisions from December 8, 2023, through March 31, 2024.
MLS NEXT Pro (Major League Soccer): The Chattanooga FC, which has been part of the Division-III professional National Independent Soccer Association since the 2020 season, announced the team will play as one of two independent teams in the 2024 season of Major League Soccer's developmental league called MLS NEXT Pro. Of the 29 MLS teams in the 2023 season, 27 had affiliated teams in the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro. These 27 MLS-affiliated teams will return in 2024 along with the Chattanooga FC and another new independent team called the Carolina Core FC (High Point, NC). The MLS NEXT Pro plans to add two other independent teams in Cleveland and Jacksonville for the 2025 season. The MLS's D.C. United has the Loudoun United (Leesburg, VA) as its developmental team in the Division-II USL Championship league, while the MLS's CF Montreal has its developmental team in Ligue1 Quebec. Chattanooga is also home to the Chattanooga Red Wolves SC team in the Division-III professional USL League One.
National Indoor Soccer League: The NISL, whose clubs each have separate men's and women's teams playing doubleheaders on game days, announced its 2024 season will feature six-team men's and women's divisions. Of the five clubs from last season, the Columbus (GA) Rapids and Memphis Americans will not return. Three new clubs called the Albany (GA) Aces, Magic City SC (Birmingham, AL), and the Foundry FC, which replaces the Rapids in Columbus, were added for 2024. Returning clubs include the Central Florida Crusaders (Orlando), Fayetteville (NC) Fury, and Tampa Bay Strikers. Each men's team and women's team will play 12 games as part of doubleheader matches from January 13 through May 5, 2024.
Premier Lacrosse League: The tour-based professional field lacrosse PLL has assigned geographic home markets for its eight teams and it will use a two-conference alignment starting with the 2024 season. The Eastern Conference will feature the Boston Cannons, Maryland Whipsnakes, Philadelphia Waterdogs, and New York Atlas, while the Western Conference will include the Carolina Chaos (Charlotte), California Redwoods, Denver Outlaws (formerly the Chrome), and Utah Archers. The Boston Cannons and Denver Outlaws names were used by former teams in the Major League Lacrosse, which was part of a merger with the PLL ahead of the 2021 season. The PLL will still be a tour-based season but each team will host one of the ten regular-season weekend events with the other two regular-season events to be held at neutral sites.
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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Pecos League Stories from November 20, 2023
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