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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
May 6, 2024 - ECHL (ECHL)


BASEBALL

Major League Baseball Draft League: Major League Baseball announced it will continue to operate its MLB Draft League through the 2030 season. The same six teams that have been with the league since it started play in the 2021 season are expected to continue while the league could add two additional teams. Up until the MLB summer draft, the MLB Draft league operates as a summer-collegiate league and includes the top amateur draft-eligible prospects. After the draft, the league features players who have lost their amateur eligibility.

Southern Collegiate Baseball League: The summer-collegiate SCBL, which is a member of the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball, has added two formerly independent teams called the Carolina Disco Turkeys (Winston-Salem, NC) and the Uwharrie Wampus Cats (Albemarle, NC) to grow to eight teams for the 2024 season. The Carolina Disco Turkeys recently announced the team will play as the Yacht Rockers for a game this season as a tribute to the ‚¬Å“yacht rock ‚¬Â genre of music.

Northwoods League: Three teams from the summer-collegiate Northwoods League recently announced temporary brandings for the 2024 season. The Madison Mallards will become the Madison Ope! for a game to honor a regional exclamation. The Bismarck Larks will play a game as the Missouri River Motorboaters for the second season in a row as a tribute to summer boating in the area. The Rockford Rivets will rebrand as the Screw City Sock Monkeys for two games as a tribute to the history of the fastener and textile industries in the city.

BASKETBALL

American Basketball Association: The men's semi-pro ABA announced the Los Angeles-based South Central Guardians have been added as a 2024-25 expansion team.

Women's American Basketball Association: The semi-pro WABA recently announced teams called the Rochester (NY) Queenz and Kalamazoo (MI) Blaze have been added for the 2024 season that starts in July. The current alignment has 18 teams in four divisions-a four-team North Upper, a five-team North Lower, a six-team South and a three-team Midwest.

FOOTBALL

Arena Football League: After the first week of play in the third version of the 8-on-8 indoor AFL, the ownership of the league's Iowa Rampage (Council Bluffs) announced it was pulling out of the league for the remainder of the season due to a lack of promised support from the league. The AFL had a team called the Iowa Rampage play a scheduled road game this weekend but the Rampage is no longer listed as an AFL team. Apparently, the AFL took control of the Philadelphia Soul after a potential buyer backed out. Only a few players from the Soul traveled to the team's inaugural road game last weekend so players from the Dallas Falcons of the American Arena League 2 served as replacements for most of the team's roster.

American Indoor Football: An owner of the AIF's Cedar Rapids (IA) River Kings has been suspended by the league for the remainder of the season for failing to meet certain league standards. A new managing partner has been appointed to the team that is expected to continue in the 2024 season. The Cedar Rapids' ownership is also behind efforts to start a 2025 AIF expansion team called the Coralville (IA) Chaos.

Indoor Football League: The IFL held a regular-season game called the Fargo-IFL Gridiron Classic in Fargo (ND) hosted by the Dakota Bucks, an inactive team that previously operated as the Bismarck (ND) Bucks in the IFL. The recently renamed Dakota Bucks want to rejoin the IFL and are considering a move from Bismarck to Fargo.

HOCKEY

Alberta Junior Hockey League: The Canadian Junior-A AJHL, which saw five teams defect to the British Columbia Hockey League midway through the 2023-24 season, announced a 2024-25 expansion team has been granted to the Northern Alberta Xtreme (Devon, AB). The new team's ownership owned the league's Whitecourt Wolverines and attempted to relocate that team to Devon. The Wolverines' previous owner had an option to buy back the team if it was to relocate and it looks that option will be exercised to keep the Whitecourt Wolverines in the league next season. The AJHL also reviewed an application for a new team in Cold Lake but that will be considered for the 2025-26 season.

American Hockey League: As the only AHL team without a National Hockey League affiliation during the 2023-34 season, the Chicago Wolves have signed a three-year affiliation deal with the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes starting with the 2024-25 season. Prior to last season, the Wolves ended their affiliation with the Hurricanes and played as an independent AHL team forcing the Hurricanes to scatter its prospects among teams in the AHL, ECHL and European leagues.

ECHL: A group called Pro Hockey MD held an event last weekend in Frederick (MD) to launch an effort to bring an ECHL hockey team to the city. The ECHL approved the sale of the Trois-Rivières Lions from Deacon Sports & Entertainment to a new owner that operates two other ECHL teams. Deacon Sports was unable to sell the its Newfoundland Growlers (St. John's) ECHL team and that franchise was terminated.

North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced the addition of a new team called the Elmira (NY) Aviators to the East Division for the 2024-25 season. The new NAHL team will play at the city's First Arena and displace the minor professional Elmira River Sharks of the Federal Prospects Hockey League after only one season in the league. The River Sharks also operated a Tier-III junior-level team called the Elmira Impact of the United States Premier Hockey League at the First Arena.

Federal Prospects Hockey League: Although the minor professional FPHL is losing the Elmira River Sharks team next season, the league's 2024-25 expansion team for Athens (GA) is moving forward and has narrowed the list of potential team names to the Classic City Panic or the Rock Lobsters that will be up for fan voting until May 13.

National Hockey League: The owner of the new Utah NHL franchise, formerly the Arizona Coyotes, is considering a bracket-type method of voting on the team's new name for the 2024-25 season. Originally, the owner considered having the team simply play as ‚¬Å“Utah ‚¬Â for the 2024-25 season and wait until 2025 to finalize a name to be started for 2025-26. Several potential nicknames are reported to have been trademarked for the Salt Lake City team.

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League: British Columbia's VIJHL, which was one of three leagues classified as Junior-A Tier2 under BC Hockey, announced the league has broken away from Hockey Canada and BC Hockey and will play as an independent league starting with the 2024-25 season. The VIJHL has since initiated an affiliation with the independent Junior-A British Columbia Hockey League.

SOCCER

Pacific Coast Soccer League: The amateur PCSL started its 2024 season this weekend with a men's division consisting of eight British Columbia-based teams aligned in a single-table format. Each team will play a 14-game schedule through July.

League1 British Columbia: Canada's Division-3 pro-am League1 BC started its 2024 season last weekend with seven clubs each operating teams in both a Men's Division and a Women's Division and both aligned in a single-table format. The league had eight clubs last season but the Victoria Highlanders and the Vancouver-based Nautsa'mawt FC did not return. The Burnaby FC was added for the 2024 season. Each of the men's and women's teams will play 12 games through July 21, 2024.

USL Championship (United Soccer League): The Indianapolis mayor, who was previously behind a special tax district for a proposed 20,000-seat soccer stadium to be built by the owner of the Indy Eleven team in the Division-II professional USL Championship, has withdrawn his support for that USL project and instead is supporting a special tax district in order to build a soccer stadium at a different site for a potential Major League Soccer expansion franchise.

USL W-League (United Soccer League): The Pittsburgh Riverhounds team from the men's Division-II professional USL Championship announced the addition of yet-to-be-named women's team in the pre-professional USL W-League for the 2025 season. The W-League started its 2024 season this weekend with 80 teams aligned in 4 conferences (Central, Eastern, Southern and Western) with each conference further aligned in 3 regional divisions. The regular season ends in early July.

OTHER

Premier Ultimate League: The women's semi-pro PUL ultimate frisbee league started its 2024 season last month with 11 teams aligned in a five-team South Division and a six-team North Division. 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 so the divisions were realigned. Each team will play a six-game schedule through June 9, 2024.

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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