Kansas City’s Major League Soccer stadium will no longer display the Livestrong name following a disagreement between the team and the cancer charity founded by Lance Armstrong.
Robb Heineman, the chief executive of Sporting KC, said in a statement two days ago that Livestrong was “utilizing aggressive tactics designed to force us into an unsatisfactory arrangement.” Sporting KC’s 18,467-seat soccer stadium had been named Livestrong Sporting Park since 2011 and will now be referred to as Sporting Park.
Armstrong said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during a cycling career in which he won seven Tour de France titles, reversing 13 years of denials, according to the talk-show host.
“We were not expecting the foundation to treat a partner in this manner,” Heineman said in the statement, without elaborating. “Even more surprising is that Livestrong would take this action in the midst of a significant transitional phase for their organization.”
Livestrong Chief Financial Officer Greg Lee said Sporting KC failed to meet financial terms of the six-year agreement.
“If a partner is struggling to meet the terms of an agreement, we do everything possible to reach a fair and reasonable compromise,” Lee said in an e-mailed statement. “If no compromise can be reached, as good stewards of our brand, mission and donors’ dollars, we have no choice but to bring that agreement to an end.”
The Kansas City Star reported that under the agreement, Sporting KC gave Livestrong as much as $7.5 million over six years, donating a portion of ticket, concession and souvenir sales.
The largest athlete-founded charity, Livestrong has raised more than $470 million for the fight against cancer since 1997, according to its website.
Heineman said Sporting KC had staunchly defended the Livestrong mission even though there were “several instances” in the past 22 months when the partnership was questioned by the media and general public.
“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,” Heineman said.
Kansas City is scheduled to host the 2013 MLS All-Star Game at Sporting Park in July.
Armstrong, 41, had severed ties with Livestrong in November, a month after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said he was part of what it termed “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” Armstrong was also stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from Olympic sports for life.
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