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goodnight sweet princes

We Lost Our Lacrosse Team. Yes, We Had One.

A pro sports team — a championship-caliber team, no less — is leaving New York for the greener, sunnier pastures of Orlando. Remember the Titans? New York's National Lacrosse League team made it to last season's Champion's Cup, only to be defeated by the Calgary Roughnecks in some Canadian place called the Saddledome. Now they'll be in the same spot where the ACC's all-time leading scorer helps open Dunkin' Donuts franchises.

The Cardinals didn't leave Glendale, Arizona, after their Super Bowl loss. The Tigers and Red Wings didn't bolt Detroit after their recent World Series and Stanley Cup defeats. Elite teams don't abandon even the most down-and-out cities. So why are the Titans ditching us?

"Like every New Yorker, we struggled with rent," said Doug Fritts, an NLL spokesman. "The Rangers and the Knicks have a deal with Madison Square Garden that we just don't have. We have to pay to use the arena just like anyone else who wants to use it." So, the Titans got bumped into the same bracket as Kanye concerts and the circus.

They tried every venue they could: the Garden, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Newark's Prudential Center, Trenton's Sovereign Bank Arena and, earlier this year, a "home game" at the BankAtlantic Center near Fort Lauderdale.

But rent is such a boring reason for the loss. Could there be another?

In the giddier world of 2006, Mayor Bloomberg announced: "It is my great pleasure to present New York City's first professional lacrosse team. Showcasing lacrosse on the world's greatest stage here in New York City creates a partnership that will maintain lacrosse's position as the fastest-growing sport in America." Richard Ullmann, the team's president, added: "The fast-pace, high-scoring action of the NLL is sure to be a success in our great city." In their debut season, the Titans finished in last place with a 4–12 record.

It's unclear why either Bloomberg or Ullmann had such hope, given the drawn-out lackluster life of the New York Saints, an NLL team that existed from 1989 to 2003 that, while not within the five boroughs, was as much of a New York City team as, say, the Giants or the Jets. It's true, lacrosse has been expanding nationally, but it's still mostly tarred by the 2006 "incident" at Duke University. And really, what miracles can be expected of a league whose logo looks like Boba Fett waving a Japanese flag?

Rent must've certainly been a factor in the Titans' exodus. But also? Maybe the barren fan sites (be the first to leave a comment!). Maybe the look of boredom in the fans who bothered to show up to the championship game in the Saddledome. Or maybe the fact that Googling "New York Titans fan site" turns up online gift shops based out of San Antonio, Tucson, and San Francisco — as well as the MySpace page of the Jets, who were originally known as the Titans.

Good-bye, New York Titans. We would miss you, if we ever had known you were here.

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Photo: New York Titans