According to reporter Tod Palmer in the Kansas City Star (link), Livestrong, the cancer-fighting charity launched by embattled cycling champion Lance Armstrong will no longer have naming rights at Sporting KC’s Livestrong Sporting Park.
“The Major League Soccer club said Tuesday night that it would sever ties with Livestrong, which claimed Sporting KC failed to live up to a financial agreement struck between the two organizations in March 2011,” noted Palmer.
According to a report from ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell, Livestrong informed Sporting KC this week that it had been paid only $250,000 of its $1 million pledge for 2012.
Yahoo! Sports reported that when the deal was initially struck Sporting KC had agreed to pay Livestrong $8 -$10 million to fight cancer over the six-year term of the deal.
“In return, the club hoped to benefit from the connection to the foundation’s other major partners,” wrote Yahoo’s Brooks Peck.
Possibly Sporting KC was also able to write off the naming as a tax deduction to a charity.
The Livestrong group is likely telling the truth about Sporting KC not paying its agreed-upon amount, particularly when Sporting KC officials immediately went into a defensive mode and making a statement such as they had hoped Livestrong would have worked with them to “redefine expectations.”
In PR-speak that means Livestrong was expecting Sporting KC to abide by its agreement to pay the agreed-upon amount—and the soccer club wasn’t holding up its end of the deal.
However, with the current controversy surrounding Armstrong, it was silly for the group to publicly embarrass the area’s leading soccer franchise. The timing could not have been worse for a message of this type. Link to KMBC video of sign being removed.
In fact, in a column last November in Kansas City Sports & Fitness BLC’s John Landsberg encouraged Sporting KC to drop Livestrong. It now seems as if Livestrong beat Sporting KC to the proverbial PR punch.
These are the kind of discussions that should take place and not be fought in public. It’s similar to the recent actions by the Kansas City Art Institute to sue a major donor who was now facing financial issues.
This move will hurt the Livestrong group far more in the long run.
Livestrong will likely never receive the amount pledged by Sporting KC, and its reputation will be tarnished in the process.
It is a lose-lose situation for the group.