Sporting Kansas City retain Livestrong deal despite Armstrong controversy

12 October 2012 | Posted in Notes & Insights | By Eoin Connolly | Contact the author

Sporting Kansas City retain Livestrong deal despite Armstrong controversy

Sporting Kansas City fans watch their team in a friendly against Premier League Newcastle United at Livestrong Sporting Park. The club agreed a naming rights deal with Livestrong, the cancer awareness foundation created by seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, when it opened in summer 2011.

The chief executive and part-owner of Sporting Kansas City has dampened speculation that the club might change the name of its home stadium, Livestrong Sporting Park, in the wake of the latest round of allegations against Livestrong founder and former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong.
Armstrong, who founded the cancer awareness foundation after recovering from his own near-fatal encounter with the disease to become a multiple Tour de France winner, had his reputation further damaged this week with the release by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of a 202-page report detailing the evidence behind its charges of extensive doping and trafficking in performance-enhancing drugs during his time at the US Postal team in the late-1990s and early 2000s. However, Robb Heineman, speaking to SportsPro at the Leaders in Football conference at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, made a point of divorcing Armstrong’s activities as a sportsman from the work of Livestrong.
"The basis of our partnership with Livestrong really is around the 28 million cancer survivors worldwide and how the foundation supports the lifestyle of survivors that live everyday and that hasn’t changed," he said. "So the basis on which we made the decision to partner with Livestrong is that and obviously Lance is a key part of the foundation, but again, we partner with the message about what Livestrong's all about.”

Livestrong's naming rights deal with the 18,467-capacity soccer-specific venue, which opened to much acclaim in June 2011, runs for another four years. Heineman says that while the two parties are in regular discussions regarding the partnership, he sees no reason to bring it to an end at present.
"It's something that both sides are talking about constantly," he said. "'How can we improve the partnership? What can we do to make it better? Are we both getting what we want to out of the partnership?' So, like we do with all of our partners, we continue to do that. And as long as we're both on the same page, we'll continue.”
Away from the naming rights controversy, Heineman spoke in glowing terms of the Major League Soccer club's new home, which he said had had a "huge" impact.

"Obviously Lance is a key part of the foundation, but again, we partner with the message about what Livestrong's all about."

"We went from a team that very rarely ever sold out our games to averaging 110 per cent of our capacity this year," he said. "So we're sold out for every game – standing room only crowds – and the team's responded brilliantly. We've basically been first or second in the table for the last 18 months playing in the stadium."

Heineman's comments came as apparel giant Nike reaffirmed its support for the embattled Armstrong. It issued a press release which said: 'We are saddened that Lance Armstrong may no longer be able to participate in certain competitions and his titles appear to be impacted. Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors.'

Meanwhile the International Cycling Union (UCI), which has been forced to defend itself against allegations that it covered up the transgressions of Armstrong and other riders in the period, is considering its response to the USADA allegations. The world governing body has until 31st October to decide whether to endorse the report and on further sanctions.

The full interview with Robb Heineman, as well as interviews with Seattle Sounders owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer and Merritt Paulson, the owner of the Portland Timbers, will appear in an upcoming edition of SportsPro. Click here to subscribe.


blog comments powered by Disqus
Share |

Sports Business Directory

Globo TV Sports Informa Sports Group Populous Halpin Sport Barco
IWC Schaffhausen Benchmark Talent Sports Recruitment International AIBA - International Boxing Association International Rugby Board