January 16, 2013
Livestrong no more, naming deal terminated
Livestrong Sporting Park is no more. The unique naming rights agreement between Sporting Kansas City and disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong’s cancer foundation has been terminated. The stadium, at least for now, will be called Sporting Park.
The stadium was recently named site of the 2013 MLS All-Star Game, and was utilized by the U.S. National Team for a World Cup Qualifier last October.
Exactly who terminated the agreement seems to be debatable, but there is no question the termination leaves a bit of egg on the face of the Major League Soccer team’s management, who signed the deal with the Livestrong Foundation in 2011.
“As we stated then, we were determined to utilize the naming rights of our beautiful new stadium to encourage social change,” said Sporting CEO Robb Heinemann in a statement posted on the team’s website. “We were thrilled to have a foundation of the stature of Livestrong share this same interest. Most importantly, we were honored with the opportunity to support the fight against cancer nationally, as well as here in Kansas City. Livestrong appeared to be the ideal partner for turning our vision into action.
“There have been several instances over the last 22 months when our partnership with Livestrong has been called into question, both by media and the general public. Throughout this entire period, we have staunchly defended the Livestrong mission and never wavered in our continuing support of the cause. Our plan was that through collaborative support from Livestrong, we would not just meet our stated donation goal, but exceed it by a wide margin. We were excited about the potential to engage with other foundation partners and bring new special events to Kansas City.”
“Over the course of the past year, it became clear that Livestrong no longer shared the same spirit of partnership, despite our perseverance to the contrary. We realized at the time this could be the beginning of a tumultuous period for the foundation. We were patient as they sorted through these issues. Despite the distractions, leadership from Livestrong and Sporting Club were actively engaged in discussions to redefine expectations for both parties. Based on assurances from key Livestrong leadership, we believed this ongoing dialogue was very positive.”
According to the Kansas City Star, the foundation claimed Sporting owed it a $1 million contribution for 2012, not the $250,000 payment which the team made.