MLS club Sporting KC to keep Livestrong on stadium
Kansas City, Kan. • The home of Sporting Kansas City will continue to be called Livestrong Sporting Park after Lance Armstrong's decision to end his fight against doping charges.
Sporting KC chief executive Robb Heineman issued a statement Friday saying the Major League Soccer club would not consider renaming its stadium. The $200 million facility opened last year.
"The naming rights partnership between our stadium and Livestrong provides an opportunity to spread health and wellness messages that emphasizes the spirit of cancer survivorship," the statement said. "Livestrong's focus is the fight against cancer and the support of 28 million people around the world affected by this disease, and we believe strongly in this mission."
Armstrong announced late Thursday that he would no longer challenge the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's assertion that he took banned substances during his cycling career, even though he has steadfastly denied doping while winning an unprecedented seven Tour de France titles.
The naming rights for Livestrong Sporting Park are different from traditional naming rights in that Livestrong does not pay to have its name on the stadium. Instead, the club has promised to donate $7.5 million in stadium revenues to the organization over six years.
Livestrong is a brand of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which was created in 1997 by the cancer survivor to support those affected by the disease. The organization known for its iconic yellow bracelets has raised nearly $500 million for its cause.
"I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause," Armstrong said. "I will not stop fighting for that mission."
Sporting KC is among several organizations connected to Armstrong to come out in his support. His biggest sponsor, Nike Inc., issued a statement that said it plans to support Armstrong and his foundation because he's stated his innocence and has been "unwavering on this position."
Armstrong's other endorsements include or have included deals with RadioShack Corp., Oakley sunglasses, 24-hour Fitness, Nissan, Anheuser-Busch InBev's Michelob Ultra, FRS energy drinks and Trek bikes. Several of them also support Armstrong's foundation.
"The leadership of the Lance Armstrong Foundation remain incredibly proud of our founder's achievements, both on and off the bike," foundation chairman Jeff Garvey said.
"Lance's contributions to the fight against cancer are invaluable and we look forward to continuing the important work at hand: helping people affected by cancer overcome the financial, emotional and practical challenges related to the disease."
Heineman quoted a portion of Garvey's statement when discussing Livestrong Sporting Park.
"The statements made last night by the Lance Armstrong Foundation speak for themselves: moving forward and continuing the fight against this horrible disease," he said.