Confidentiality concerns drive Sporting KC-Livestrong split

Robb Heineman

Photo Credit: 
SportingKC.com

Sporting Kansas City cut ties with the Livestrong Foundation because foundation officials disclosed contract details that were meant to remain confidential, club president Robb Heineman told MLSsoccer.com.

“They started to discuss our relationship in public,” Heineman (above) said in a phone interview on Thursday from the MLS SuperDraft in Indianapolis. “It was a confidential relationship. That’s why you put confidentiality provisions in agreements.

"We felt we had done our part over the course of a very difficult couple of years surrounding their foundation, and we didn’t think it was the right place and time to discuss what they felt were weaknesses within our relationships.”

Last week, Heineman said the club would not make a hasty decision on its relationship with the foundation, even with Armstrong’s admission – after years of vehement denials – that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career.

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That suddenly changed on Tuesday, when Heineman issued a statement announcing the termination of the agreement and the removal of the “Livestrong” name from Sporting Park. In that statement, Heineman said Sporting’s owners had found out the foundation was “utilizing aggressive tactics designed to force us into an unsatisfactory arrangement.”

Those tactics involved statements to ESPN regarding Sporting’s payments to the foundation, Heineman said. The network reported that Livestrong moved first to end the agreement, saying Sporting had paid only one-fourth of its $1 million commitment for 2012.

“That was kind of the final straw,” Heineman said. “We don’t need anything like that, so we’re going to move forward.”

The club has no timetable for finding a new naming-rights sponsor for its stadium, Heineman said on Thursday.

“There’s definitely a process,” he said. “I wouldn’t say there’s anything in the works specifically, but there’s definitely a process that we’re undertaking. Whether or not it’ll happen this year, I can’t tell you. I know that we would like it to, and we’re going to work in earnest to get it done as soon as we can.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.