Livestrong No More; Stadium Renamed Sporting Park

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Livestrong Foundation and Sporting Kansas City will end their agreement effective immediately, SportingKC’s CEO Robb Heineman said Tuesday night.

“Our faith and trust in this partnership have been permanently damaged; therefore we are terminating our agreement with LIVESTRONG,” he said.

The complex will also now be called ‘Sporting Park’, which also takes effect immediately, Heineman said.

According to ESPN, it was a decision by the foundation, which claimed Sporting KC had only paid $250,000 of the $1 million it owed to the foundation last year.

“This [Tuesday] morning we were disappointed to learn LIVESTRONG is utilizing aggressive tactics designed to force us into an unsatisfactory arrangement. We willingly admit we were not expecting the foundation to treat a partner in this manner. Even more surprising is that LIVESTRONG would take this action in the midst of a significant transitional phase for their organization,” Heineman said.

A team official insists the club doesn’t owe any money, and that the stadium has never lived up to its expectations, ESPN reported.

It comes days before an interview with Lance Armstrong reportedly admitting to Oprah he used sport-enhancing drugs in cycling. That interview is set to air Thursday.

Here’s the full statement from Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman:

March 8, 2011 was one of the proudest moments in our organization’s history. On that day, we officially announced a revolutionary relationship with LIVESTRONG. As we stated then, we were determined to utilize the naming rights of our beautiful new stadium to encourage social change. 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.

This morning we were disappointed to learn LIVESTRONG is utilizing aggressive tactics designed to force us into an unsatisfactory arrangement. We willingly admit we were not expecting the foundation to treat a partner in this manner. Even more surprising is that LIVESTRONG would take this action in the midst of a significant transitional phase for their organization.

Our faith and trust in this partnership have been permanently damaged; therefore we are terminating our agreement with LIVESTRONG, effectively immediately.  As a result of this decision, our stadium will now be referred to as Sporting Park. While we are ending this relationship, our support of the fight against cancer will endure. We look forward to introducing new initiatives to assist these efforts in Kansas City.

Follow @fox4kc on Twitter for the latest.

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