Livestrong Sporting Park

That was quick: ‘Livestrong’ already gone from Sporting Park

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Sporting Kansas City wasn’t messing around. When they said they were done with the Livestrong Foundation, they got to work, and like a zealot who had that curiously supportive guy from work help move the boyfriend’s stuff to the curb, the franchise is moving on with a vengeance.

Today, a drive by Sporting Park will show little evidence that the home of K.C.’s Major League Soccer franchise was ever association with the Lance Armstrong-founded charity.

From Twitter user @MrMortensen:

source:

That big white box at the top of the building may as well say “INSERT NAME HERE.” Something will fill that slot, but until it does, one of Major League Soccer’s jewels will by crowned by a big blank. And the memory of the venue’s first sponsor will persist in its absence.

In case you hadn’t heard, last Monday the fan got defiled in Kansas City, and the relationship between Sporting and the Livestrong Foundation dissolved. Livestrong said Sporting owned it money. Sporting said Livestrong was wrong and strong-arming them. The two sides quickly walked away from each other.

Which is fine. In addition to its 17 Major League Soccer games, Sporting Park will host an All-Star Game in 2013. It’s one of the favorites to get a World Cup Qualifier, and there’s always the Gold Cup.

Business will go on as usual around Sporting Park, but now instead of fans walking up, seeing “Livestrong,” and being reminded of the now-clouded history of that well-meaning organization, they’ll probably just think about soccer.

Sporting Park no longer Livestrong, and that’s probably for the best

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It’s a shame that the mission of the Livestrong Foundation has been undermined by the turmoil engulfing its founder, but when your work is so closely tied to the celebrity of somebody like Lance Armstrong, that type of confluence is inevitable. And that’s why it’s probably best that the home of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City no longer bares the organization’s name.

Since the facility opened in Kansas City two years ago, the home of MLS’s Eastern Conference champions has been known as Livestrong Sporting Park. Many had developed a shorthand of calling it merely “Livestrong,” but after the Major League Soccer franchise severed its ties with the organization on Monday, the stadium will now only go by Sporting Park.

Because of a he-said-she-said, it’s unclear why exactly that is. According to reports (with Darren Rovell first to document the news at ESPN), the disagreement stems from how much money the charity’s owed. That’s already a weird situation. Whereas most naming rights deals involve a company paying a team, Sporting Kansas City had agreed to send money the other way. Such as the value of the Livestrong brand, at one time.

Now Livestrong says the soccer franchise still owes them $750,000. Sporting not only denied this but sees it as reason to walk away from the partnership:

“We are disappointed to learn Livestrong is deploying tactics designed to force us into an unacceptable arrangement, after months of good faith discussions in which we believed progress had been made,” said Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman in a statement provided to ESPN.com. “We were not expecting the foundation to treat a partner in this manner, especially given the tumultuous environment they have thrust us into over the past year — while we staunchly defended the mission of the foundation. Our faith and trust in this partnership has been permanently damaged; therefore we are terminating our agreement with Livestrong immediately.”

As some around the league are depicting it, this sounds like a struggling organization trying to force a partner’s hand. Is it likely to work? No, but desperate times, and all that.

Here’s Livestrong’s view:

“While we don’t talk about the specifics related to any of our partners, part of my role as the chief financial officer is to ensure compliance by our corporate partners,” Livestrong CFO Greg Lee said. “We strive to be great partners ourselves and expect the same from those we do business with. If a partner is struggling to meet the terms of our agreement, we do everything possible to reach a fair and reasonable compromise. If no compromise can be reached, as good stewards or our brand and mission, we have no choice but to bring that agreement to an end.”

Well, at least the sides can agree on one thing: It’s time to walk away.

It’s a shame that the Livestrong name has become so damaged. There’s only one person to blame for that. The more we hear about Lance Armstrong, the more we want him to go away, and unfortunately, those feelings extend to other facets of his celebrity (like Livestrong).

MORE: Sporting wastes no time getting “Livestrong” off the building

While they may do good work, Livestrong is not the only organization fighting cancer. They are, however, the only one whose fate is tied to someone who used philanthropy to help project an image build on a lie. Given that image was used to lure millions of dollars into the foundation, some might call that fraud.

If Sporting can get away from that without further detracting from the cause, it’s for the best.

Sporting Kansas City will host the 2013 MLS All-Star Game

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What are you doing on July 31, 2013? Nothing? Perfect. How do you feel about a trip to Kansas City for the Major League Soccer All-Star game?

For the 10th time, the league’s annual showcase will feature the MLS All-Stars against an international team TBD. MLS squads are 6-2-1 in those matches. Last year, Eddie Johnson scored a goal near the death to give the All Stars a 3-2 victory over Chelsea. Ben Olson coached a heck of a match.

Why Livestrong Sporting Park? Well, here are a few reasons courtesy of an MLS press release:

Since opening in June of 2011, LIVESTRONG Sporting Park has hosted Sporting Kansas City’s full home schedule — selling out 17 of the 18 MLS games in 2012 — the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship, the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying semifinals and championship, both the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams and international friendlies, as well as concerts such as FarmAid and Journey.

We’re excited. The real question: Will SKC become the fourth team to host the ASG and MLS Cup in the same season?

Let’s play “Choose the site for U.S. World Cup qualifiers”

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Five lucky communities will soon be named to host the United States’ final round World Cup qualifiers.

Well, four seriously lucky Louies, plus one that may or may not be quite as fortunate; by the time Jurgen Klinsmann’s men face Jamaica on Oct. 11 (the fifth and final home match), they may already be safely through to Brazil 2014.

If the choosing were mine, here are the five venues where Klinsi and Co. would be heading over the next nine months. (Disclaimer: I know everyone outside of these five places will hate me; the good soccer folks of Seattle and Portland will lead the pitchfork-and-lantern way.)

Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City: Great stadium, great fans who know how to get their “patriotism” on, and there already a history of success there (albeit not a long one.) Jurgen Klinsmann and his players were falling over each other to talk up that place last fall in the semi-final round win, so it’s hard to see how this one won’t be picked.

Red Bull Arena outside New York: Establishing that home field advantage here is more problematic, but it’s New York!  You know, the Big Apple, an iconic symbol of our country and a media center. Plus, if we’re only talking about MLS stadium (I know U.S. Soccer isn’t, but I am), it seats about 5,000 more than most of the league’s grounds. Games against Panama or Honduras in June would be the best chances.

Crew Stadium in Columbus (pictured): Of course Crew Stadium has to be in the mix. Who cares if the place doesn’t have the pretty things and fancy high-tech edges of other, newer grounds. This one has history, and important history, at that. It’s where Mexican ambition has gone to die. How cool is that!  Mexico vs. the United States on Sept. 10? Can we please book it?

PPL Park outside Philadelphia: Let’s show CONCACAF that not all the verbal nastiness is confined to small Central American nations. The brotherly fans in Philly can presumably accomplish that, right?  By the way, why aren’t we thinking of making Costa Rica play there in March? I know it’s not as close to Mexico as the other possibilities already mentioned, but aren’t we just talking about an extra two hours in the air here?

Rio Tinto Stadium outside Salt Lake City, Utah: Two qualifier appearances, two wins, glowing reviews from U.S. players, coaches and staff. There’s a lot to like, including the beautiful stadium. Unless you put one game in Southern California at the Home Depot Center, this will probably be the Western-most venue.

Livestrong Sporting Park: de facto U.S. soccer “home” in 2012

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The United States may be too large and varied to ever have a “national” soccer stadium, per se. That is, there can never be a Wembley or Azteca equivalent – those being the presiding, primary national team seats for England and Mexico.

But Livestrong Sporting Park in suburban Kansas City may have become be de facto home ground for domestic soccer goings-on in 2012.

A quick look at what the park has / had going in 2012:

U.S. Open Cup championship: The home team needed overtime and penalty kicks last month to dethrone Seattle in the final of U.S. Soccer’s all-comers tournament.

SKC hosting Chicago tonight: Tonight’s contest at Livestrong is probably the biggest so far in Major League Soccer’s 2012 season. Yes, there have been high-profile meetings that deserved splashy media treatment, usually involving one “David Beckham.”  While they may have been lavish feasts, they were not exactly “nutritional” in terms of real effect on the standings. You cannot say that about a match that could decide the Eastern Conference championship and could reveal which side still has a legitimate shot at fetching San Jose for the Supporters Shield.

(MORE: Chris Rolfe has a big role tonight)

MLS Cup 2012?: If things break right – and a lot of things have to break right – Livestrong could still host the 2012 championship game. Under the new format, remember, the finalist with a better record hosts the big match. Right now, statistically speaking, Sporting KC has the second-best chance of hosting that match. (Although that could change tonight.)

U.S. World Cup qualifier: On Oct. 16 the United States will either advance into final round World Cup qualifying or will tumble embarrassingly out of soccer’s quadrennial grand showcase. (Egad! Could that really happen?)  Either way, it will happen inside Livestrong Sporting Park, where Jurgen Klinsmann’s men face Guatemala that night. That game, by the way, is sold out.