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BankAtlantic Seduced by Lingerie, Not Lacrosse

When I heard that there would be a lingerie football franchise in South Florida, the Miami Caliente, who would be playing their games at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, my first thought was of the terrifying possibility of a game marred by a wardrobe malfunction. My second thought (well, third if you count throwing down dibs on the New Times press pass) was of another sport: lacrosse.

Specifically, Kevin Finneran, the former professional lacrosse star who has been tirelessly marketing the sport in South Florida in hopes of launching a National Lacrosse League franchise. I had not spoken with Finneran since shortly after he'd staged the first professional lacrosse match in Florida history, January 3 at the BankAtlantic.

It was not an ideal date: the final Sunday of the NFL season, when the Dolphins nation was obsessed with the prospect of beating the Baltimore Ravens and at last making a return to the playoffs. Still the lacrosse game attracted nearly 6,000 spectators who saw a thrilling match between New York and Toronto that was decided with a goal in the final seconds.

Finneran had reason to hope this might create momentum for the franchise he envisioned, but when I spoke to him yesterday, he sounded considerably less hopeful than he had a few months ago. "There's nothing concrete," he sighed. Yes, he'd caught wind of the new sport that had earned a berth in the South Florida sports scene. "It's obviously disappointing to see something like the lingerie football team in there," says Finneran, whose sport offers raw competition but lacks a libido lure. "You have a great sport being played by guys who do it for the love of the game."

Usually, the stumbling block for the slightly less traditional American sports is funding, but Finneran said that's not the obstacle for him. "I have people who want to do it," he says. "It's a question of whether things fall in correctly with the BankAtlantic Center."

Yes, the same BankAtlantic that found room for the lingerie league. Admittedly, the lacrosse team would need more dates than that league, which will have only two games -- one in November and one in January. Plus, the BankAtlantic has to work around the Panthers' schedule, as well as concerts and other nonsporting events. But Finneran was flexible.

At the moment, there are no plans for another showcase match between out-of-town teams. Finneran made it clear that was a means to an end, which is now in doubt. It's both reassuring and frustrating for him to see the sport continue to grow in popularity on the high school campuses of South Florida. Why can't that enthusiasm be the impetus for a local pro team?

"Our sport speaks for itself," says Finneran. "The people who went to the [January] game had an amazing experience and loved every minute of it."

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Thomas Francis

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