New York finally takes notice

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

They've all had their brushes with fame.

New York Titans defender Jarett Park recalls a run-in with a bartender who claimed to be a regular at home games.

Former all-star forward Ryan Boyle has been picked out of the crowd at promotional events.

Transition ace Matt Alrich was spotted after a rare television interview.

"I was walking around the street and somebody said 'Hey, aren't you that lacrosse player?'" Alrich recalled. "I kind of felt like a celebrity there for a second."

Staying in the spotlight -- especially in the city that never sleeps -- hasn't been easy for the New York Titans in their third season of National Lacrosse League existence.

With almost 20 million fans around to buy tickets and replica jerseys, the roster of professional sports teams in the New York metropolitan area includes baseball's Mets and Yankees, the NFL's Giants and Jets, the NBA's Knicks and Nets, the NHL's Devils, Islanders and Rangers, and soccer's New York Red Bulls.

Even when there's a lull in the action, there seems to be no shortage of storylines on Gotham's sports pages.

There was A-Rod's steroid admission; Brett Favre's un-retirement; Sean Avery's return from NHL exile; The Knicks' courtship of LeBron James.

And who could forget Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg?

How can a bunch of nine-to-fivers doubling as lacrosse pros possibly compete with that?

"It's not just that. You're competing with the entire city of New York, whether it's a Broadway show or tourist attractions, the Knicks, the Rangers, anything like that, so it's been tough," Alrich said. "It takes a lot to get the name out there, but it's been steadily growing the last couple of years. Once you get people out there to actually see the game and witness it in person, a lot of people get instantly hooked."

It'd sure help if they'd bring a few friends along.

According to the league, the Titans averaged 4,692 fans over eight regular-season dates, the second-lowest mark on the 12-team loop. Over a pair of playoff outings, an average of 5,261 spectators spun the turnstiles. It's not for lack of success.

The Titans won seven home tilts, going 5-3 in the regular season and winning back-to-back post-season contests to advance to the NLL final.

And it's certainly not for lack of trying.

The marketing department has dreamed up wacky promotion ideas, while the players are conducting lacrosse clinics and making public appearances.

"It's incredibly humbling because you're basically a start-up amongst institutions like the Knicks, like the Giants, like the Jets, like the Rangers, and it's just really hard to get traction, whereas if you're playing in a smaller market, it's a little easier to get coverage," Boyle said. "It's a little funny in that regard, as far as being able to do really cool things and then getting special attention and just fighting to get your box score in."

Park figures one more road victory -- in tomorrow's Champion's Cup final against the Calgary Roughnecks -- might drum up some additional attention.

"Right now, the Knicks are terrible. The Rangers had a decent year, but got bounced in the playoffs. So we're the only team in the mix to bring back a championship," he said. "Definitely, it's easier to sell a team when you're winning."


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