KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Tensions continue to grow between Sporting KC and Livestrong. They took the sign down from the stadium earlier this week. Sporting says the charity broke promises. The charity says Sporting owes them three-quarters of a million dollars.
According to the Kansas City Business Journal, this issue could go to court.
On Friday, Sporting KC CEO spoke with local media for the first time since the team parted ways with Livestrong.
Robb Heineman spoke about a half hour ago at the Chiefs Indoor Training facility while his team conducts its first practice of the year.
They quoted Livestrong spokesman Rae Bazzarre as saying, “When two organizations agree on a mutually beneficial arrangement and one of them breaks faith or violates the deal, sometimes legal action is needed.”
But whether this veiled threat becomes a reality is yet to be seen.
The stadium is now just called Sporting Park, but when Sporting’s owners decided to give the naming rights to Livestrong two years ago, it was hailed as a breakthrough.
Instead of collecting millions of dollars for a business to put their name on the stadium, Sporting gave it away to Livestrong, promising to donate more than $7 million over six years to the cancer charity. But part of the agreement was that Livestrong — in association with its founder, Lance Armstrong — would attract some of the top names in the music industry to Kansas City to perform at the stadium.
But as the allegations against Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs to win seven Tour de France titles grew, the concerts never came — and Sporting says without those concerts at their stadium, they couldn’t raise the same amount of money they expected to raise for the charity. So they claim Livestrong breached the contract.
“We felt like we had their back, and over the course of the recent past, the foundation did some things that we’re surprising to us — and probably spoke about our relationship with media in ways we would not have expected them to,” said Robb Heineman, Sporting CEO. “Because of that we felt the trust was violated and it was time to move on.”
Heineman said they are looking for another sponsor to rename the stadium but the business will have to be local because he takes the teams community and charitable involvement very seriously.
More than anything, Heineman said he wants to put the whole Livestrong experience in the past and focus on getting the team to the playoffs once again this season.