Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
February 12, 2024 - United Football League (UFL)
Atlantic League: The city of Gastonia (NC) has come to an agreement with a new ownership group that will operate an independent Atlantic League team in the city starting with the 2024 season. A name-the-team contest was also started. This new team will replace the league's Gastonia Honey Hunters team that was removed after the 2023 season for unpaid debts and subsequently filed for bankruptcy. The ownership of the Honey Hunters has filed a countersuit alleging the league had a hand in the bankruptcy because it rejected the proposed sale of the Honey Hunters franchise to pay off debts.
Carolina League: The town of Leland near (Wilmington, NC), which at one time was speculated to be the destination for the low-A Carolina League's Down East Wood Ducks (Kinston, NC), has decided to put discussions on hold for now concerning a proposed new ballpark for an affiliated minor league team or an independent team. The Down East Wood Ducks have since announced a move to a new ballpark in Spartanburg (SC).
International League: As part of its salute to Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Allentown, PA) of the Triple-A International League will play at least one game as the Lehigh Valley Mummers during the 2024 season. A mummer is a performer dressed in elaborate colorful costumes and featured at the Philadelphia New Years Day parade.
Mid America League: The new summer-collegiate MAL recently announced Texarkana (TX) will be home to the league's fifth team and a sixth team is still to be announced for the inaugural 2024 season. The league's four other teams have been named and include the Abilene (TX) Flying Bison, Sherman (TX) Sandcats, Fort Smith (AR) Marshals and the Piney Wood TimberHogs (White Oak, TX).
Northwoods League: The Green Bay Rockers of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League will become the Green Bay Supper Clubbers for three games in the 2024 season. The "Supper Clubbers" refers to those partaking in the traditional Wisconsin food halls. The nickname was also one of the nickname finalists when the team changed to the Rockers name before the 2022 season.
South Atlantic League: As a tribute to the number of caves in the state of Kentucky, the Bowling Green (KY) Hot Rods of the high Class-A SAL will play select games as the Bowling Green Cavemen during the 2024 season. The league's Hudson Valley Renegades (Fishkill, NY) will return as the Hudson Valley Cider Donuts for four games in the 2024 season as a tribute to the apple cider donut, which is the unofficial signature food of the Hudson Valley.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA has announced four teams called the Suffolk County (NY) Stingrays, Connecticut Flyeerz, Baton Rouge Crusaders and 402 Elite (Omaha) have been added for the 2024-25 season. The ABA also announced it plans to start two summer leagues under the ABA Elite Summer League banner. These will include regular-season teams that want to also play over the summer and a league for players over 40 years old. This program hopes to start in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Athletes Unlimited - Basketball: The women's Athletes Unlimited will play its 2024 professional basketball season over four weeks (February 29 through March 23) with four teams again playing all games at the Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas.
Canadian Football League: The CFL has not made much progress on adding a fifth East Division team in Halifax (Nova Scotia) to even out its two divisions. The CFL commissioner recently stated that if expansion into Atlantic Canada is not possible, the league will start to look at other markets and Quebec City was mentioned as a potential location.
United Football League: The new eight-team UFL, which was formed from the recent merger of the United States Football League and the XFL, officially announced its inaugural 2024 season schedule will feature each team playing ten games from March 30 through June 2, 2024. The UFL alignment will feature a USFL Conference with the Birmingham Stallions, Houston Roughnecks, Memphis Showboats and Michigan Panthers, and an XFL Conference with the Arlington Renegades, D.C. Defenders, San Antonio Brahmas and St. Louis Battlehawks.
X-League: The women's 7-on-7 indoor X League, which played its inaugural season in 2022 with eight teams and went idle for the 2023 season, has pushed back its restart from the 2024 season until May 3, 2025, with the schedule to be announced in October 2024. The X League, or Extreme Football League, evolved from the former Legends Football League, which had started as the Lingerie Football League.
American Hockey League: The AHL's Springfield (MA) Thunderbirds played its fourth annual game as the Springfield Ice- O-Topes in honor of "The Simpsons" television series that was based in the fictional town of Springfield and had a fictional hockey team by that name.
Greater Metro Hockey League: Canada's independent junior-level GMHL recently announced the addition of two Ontario-based expansion teams for the 2024-25 - the Richmond Hill Rampage and a yet-to-be-named team in Wasaga Beach.
Professional Women's Hockey League: The new six-team PWHL will hold two neutral-site games next month at National Hockey League arenas in Pittsburgh and Detroit as the league tests these markets for fan interest and potential future expansion.
SPHL: The SPHL's Knoxville Ice Bears were renamed the Scruffy City Shiners for a one-game tribute to Knoxville being called a "scruffy little city" in 1980 by the Wall Street Journal when referring to the city's bid to host the World's Fair.
United States Hockey League: The Sioux Falls (SD) Stampede of the Tier-I junior-level USHL hosted its 17th annual Wiener Dog Night to benefit Dakota Dachshund Rescue and the team was rebranded as the Sioux Falls Fighting Wiener Dogs for the game against the Sioux City Musketeers.
MLS Next Pro: Major League Soccer's Division-III professional reserve league known as MLS Next Pro announced its 2024 season schedule will feature 29 teams each playing a 28-game schedule from March 15 through October 6, 2024. All 27 MLS-affiliated teams will return from last season along with 2 new independent teams called the Carolina Core FC (High Point, NC) and the Chattanooga FC, which joins from last season's Division-III professional National Independent Soccer Association. The 2024 alignment will feature a 15-team Eastern Conference with a 7-team Southeast Division (formerly the Central Division) and an 8-team Northeast Division, and a 14-team Western Conference with 7-team Frontier and Pacific divisions. Of the 29 MLS teams for the 2024 season, the Loudoun United FC and CF Montreal have their developmental reserve teams in the USL Championship and Ligue1 Quebec, respectively.
League1 Alberta: League1 Canada, which is an alliance of national Division-III Pro-Am soccer leagues, recently reached an agreement with the Alberta Soccer Association for League1 Alberta to join as a fourth member. League1 Canada's other members include League1 BC (British Columbia), League1 Ontario, and Lique1 Quebec. League1 Alberta played an exhibition season in 2023 with a five-team Men's Division and a five-team Women's Division. All teams will return from 2023 and each division will add two teams-the Calgary Blizzard and Calgary South West United to the Men's Division and the National Development Centre and Calgary South West United to the Women's Division.
USL Super League (United Soccer League): The new women's USL Super League, which will start play in August 2024 with eight teams and follow the fall-to-spring international soccer calendar, has been granted the top Division-I professional designation by the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). The current 14-team Division-I National Women's Soccer League plays a spring-summer season. The USL Super League announced Brooklyn (NY) has been added as one of the eight teams in the inaugural 2024 season. The seven other first-season teams will include Carolina (Charlotte), Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa Bay Sun FC, Washington (DC), Lexington (KY) and the Spokane (WA) Zephyr FC. Teams in Tucson and Phoenix were on the original first-season list but have been replaced by Fort Lauderdale and Brooklyn. Tucson and Phoenix, along with Chattanooga, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Madison (WI), Oakland and Palm Beach (FL), are now listed as potential future expansion markets.
Premier Ultimate League: The PUL women's professional ultimate frisbee league announced its 2024 season schedule will feature 11 teams each playing a six-game schedule from April 6 through June 9, 2024. Last season, the PUL had 12 teams aligned in four-team Midwest, East and South divisions but the Columbus (OH) Pride is not participating in 2024. The teams have been realigned into a five-team South Division and a six-team North Division.
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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United Football League Stories from February 12, 2024
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
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