Sporting KC naming rights partnership with Children's Mercy

Sporting Kansas City have a new name for their home ground, and a new community partner for the next decade and beyond.

The club announced a long-term partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City on Thursday, a deal that grants the nationally-respected pediatric medical center exclusive naming rights to Sporting's home stadium – now dubbed Children’s Mercy Park – and training center. The arrangement also promotes health and fitness among Kansas City-area school children and will provide specialized sports medicine to a youth athlete market that has experienced a substantial increase in sports-related injuries.

In addition, Children’s Mercy will become the official healthcare and sports medicine partner of the National Training Center, a joint project with US Soccer which will break ground in Kansas City, Kansas, in the spring of 2016. The facility will serve Sporting KC Academy players and offer a full range of sports medicine services, resources and programming for youth athletes from all types of sports, not just soccer.

“Partnering with Children’s Mercy to impact youth health and fitness aligns perfectly with our mission at Sporting Kansas City,” said Cliff Illig, principal owner of Sporting KC along with fellow Cerner cofounder Neal Patterson, in a statement. “Neal and I have worked with health care organizations all over the world, and we have the deepest respect for the world-class vision, values, leadership and capabilities Children’s Mercy brings to pediatric clinical care, research and education in Kansas City. 

“Healthier kids lead to healthier communities, and we’re thrilled that the stadium will bear the Children’s Mercy name as we work together to prevent pediatric sports injuries.”    

The 10-year partnership, which will kick off with Sporting Kansas City’s 2016 training camp/preseason, focuses on three components: Improving access to pediatric-trained sports medicine; strengthening community; and protecting youth athletes and educating parents and coaches.

The arrangement will enhance Sporting Kansas City’s Victory Project, which helps area children – especially those with cancer – obtain the support and resources they need to survive and thrive. It will develop and promote Sporting Moves, a grassroots outreach program that educates and inspires elementary kids on the importance of physical activity in an effort to combat childhood obesity.

The partnership will develop soccer-specific curriculum for the Sporting Club Network, which includes approximately 200,000 players, parents, coaches, managers and administrators, including those with SKC's academy. Also included: sports training, rehabilitation and conditioning programs for Sporting's academy teams at Swope Soccer Village, the club's official training facility that hosts year-round marquee youth tournaments and enjoys 525,000-plus visitors annually.

    “It’s not every day that an opportunity like this comes along, to partner with an organization like Sporting Kansas City whose passion and commitment to improving the health of our region’s youth is beyond question,” Randall O’Donnell, PhD, President and CEO of Children’s Mercy said in the statement. “We’ve maintained that same commitment for 118 years and look forward to partnering with the Sporting Kansas City network to further our mission.”