Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

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Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
July 8, 2024 - BIG3 (BIG3)


BASEBALL

Atlantic League: The Gastonia (NC) Baseball Club of the independent Atlantic League announced the Gastonia Garden Gnomes will be the team's name for the "What If #6" homestand (August 23-25) this summer as the team tests fan reaction to the sixth of eight potential names and works toward selecting a permanent name for the 2025 season. The previously announced "What If Night" names were the Gastronauts, Bolognia, Galactic Dinos, Ghost Peppers and Zombees.

Eastern League: As part of a Juneteenth/Celebration of Negro League Baseball, the Hartford Yard Goats of the Double-A Eastern League played a game last weekend (June 29) as the Hartford Schoolboys to honor the legendary Negro League pitcher and Hartford native Johnny "Schoolboy" Taylor.

Major League Baseball: The commissioner of Major League Baseball recently stated a process for expansion from 30 to 32 teams will most likely not happen until 2029, the year his term as commissioner expires, with new teams starting in 2031. When expansion does happen, it is expected to include one team in the east and one team in the west with possible regional realignment. Some of the potential expansion markets include Nashville, Portland (OR), Charlotte, Montreal and Salt Lake City.

Midwest League: The Lansing Lugnuts of the High-A Midwest League played a game this week as the Page Fence Giants in an annual tribute to a Lansing-based all-Black barnstorming team from late 1890s.

Pioneer League: The Grand Junction (CO) Jackalopes of the independent Pioneer League announced the team's official nickname will now be "The Jacks" based on the results of recent fan voting. The Jacks won out over the Lopes and the Jakes. The team will debut the new name in upcoming games.

Sunbelt League: Prior to the 2024 season, the summer-collegiate Sunbelt League lost the Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots and Chattahoochee Monsters-two teams that played at Golden Park in Columbus (GA)-due to renovations at the ballpark that will become the new home to the Double-A Southern League's Mississippi Braves starting with the 2025 season. The Chattahoochee team played the 2022 season in Oxford (AL) as the Choccolocco Monsters, which returned and is again based in Oxford for 2024. The league remained at eight teams this season with the addition of the Cartersville (GA) Cannons team.

BASKETBALL

BIG3 League: The tour-based professional 3-on-3 BIG3 basketball league announced an investor has purchased rights to a Houston-based BIG3 franchise as the league shifts to individual ownership of teams in 2025. Houston is the third market for a 2025 market-based team along with recently announced teams in Los Angeles and Miami. The BIG3 organizer stated the league is in discussions with groups in Dallas, Toronto, New York and London, and the goal is to eventually expand from 12 to 20 teams.

FOOTBALL

American Flag Football League: The professional AFFL, which was to start its inaugural 2024 season in April with four men's teams called the Boston Brigade, Dallas Ocelots, Nashville Nighthawks, and the Las Vegas Lucky Sevens, postponed its start until 2025. The AFFL had been planning to start a new women's league in 2025 and will now start both the men's and women's leagues together in 2025.

American Arena League 2: The professional developmental AAL2 held its championship game this weekend to complete a 2024 season that had eight active teams listed in the final standings. Originally, the AAL2 posted 2024 schedules for 13 teams to be aligned in an eight-team East Division and a five-team Texas-based West Division. The 2024 season started with only nine teams in a single-table format as East teams called the Delaware Bullsharks (Wilmington) and Carolina Predators (Wake Forest, NC), and West teams called the Austin ATX Wolverines and West Texas Warriors (El Paso) were missing from the team lineup. By the middle of the season, the league returned to a divisional alignment with five eastern teams in the renamed North Division and the Peach State Cats joining the three remaining Texas teams in a four-team renamed South Division. By the last two weeks of the season, the Dallas Falcons were dropped leaving only three teams in the South Division. The league's 2024 champion Wheeling (WV) Miners team recently announced it was leaving the AAL2 to join the National Arena League for the 2025 season.

HOCKEY

American Premier Hockey League: The men's Senior-A semi-pro APHL, which evolved from the Union Hockey League during its inaugural 2024 season, recently announced the addition of five new teams for its second season. These teams include the Summit City Distillers (Fort Wayne), Fayette Firebirds (Connellsville, PA) and three Michigan-based teams called the Gaylord Grenadiers, Kalkaska Battlers and Flint Lumberjacks.

Federal Prospects Hockey League: The single-A minor professional FPHL announced its 2024-25 season schedule will feature 14 teams each playing 56 games from October 11, 2024, through April 12, 2025. The league has grown from 11 to 14 teams with the addition of three expansion teams called the Danville (IL) Dashers, Monroe (LA) Moccasins and Athens (GA) Rock Monsters. Last season's Elmira (NY) River Sharks were sold and relocated to become the Hudson Valley Venom (Newburgh, NY).

Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey: The Quebec-based minor professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, recently added two expansion teams called the Bataillon de St-Hyacinthe and the National de Quebec City. All six teams from last season will return and the LNAH will grow to eight teams.

National Collegiate Development Conference: The Seacoast Spartans (Exeter, NH) have left the Tier-III junior-level Eastern Hockey League and will join the United States Premier Hockey League's Tier-II NCDC for the 2024-25 season. The team will be added to the NCDC's New England Division and share The Rinks at Exeter with the NCDC's Thunder Hockey Club.

SOCCER

Major Arena Soccer League: The men's professional MASL announced all 13 teams from the 2023-24 season will return for the 2024-25 season. The league also stated it is in negotiations with two potential expansion teams. Additional details on the 2024-25 season will be announced later this summer.

Major League Indoor Soccer: The MLIS, which will again operate its MLIS men's league along with a new WMLIS women's league in the 2024-25 season, announced the Milwaukee-based Brew City Legends will return for the 2024-25 season after taking a season and a half off for a reorganization and will operate teams in both the MLIS and WMLIS. The Brew City Legends last played in the MLIS's 2022-23 season but were replaced about a month into the season by an unrelated team called the Brew City United. The Brew City United completed the 2022-23 season but did not return to the MLIS for the 2023-24 season.

Liga de Balompie Mexicano: Mexico's independent professional LBM, which operated with ten teams in the first part (2024-A) of its 2024 season, announced teams called the Inter FC (Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca) and EFIX Soccer Club (Xalapa, Veracruz) will not be part of the league's second part (2024-B) of the 2024 season.

USL League One (United Soccer League): The Naples (FL) expansion team in the Division-III professional USL League One recently announced the team will be called FC Naples when it starts play in the 2025 season.

OTHER

Pro Volleyball Federation: After completing its inaugural 2024 season with seven teams, the professional women's indoor PVF announced the league will play with eight teams in 2025. All seven teams will return along with the expansion team called the Indy Ignite, based in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers. The PVF previously announced two other expansion teams for Kansas City and Dallas but it looks like those teams will not be starting play in 2025.

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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