Amidst the fallout from the doping scandal surrounding disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, the stadium naming rights deal between Sporting Kansas City and the Livestrong Foundation, the anti-cancer nonprofit founded by Armstrong, is set to end well short of the planned six-year agreement.
Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman released a statement on SKC's website on Tuesday evening detailing the team's ongoing support of the Livestrong Foundation until Tuesday morning, explained the nature of the the rift between the two parties and announced the immediate termination of the agreement.
"This morning we were disappointed to learn LIVESTRONG is utilizing aggressive tactics designed to force us into an unsatisfactory arrangement," the end of Heineman's statement reads. "We willingly admit we were not expecting the foundation to treat a partner in this manner. Even more surprising is that LIVESTRONG would take this action in the midst of a significant transitional phase for their organization.
"Our faith and trust in this partnership have been permanently damaged; therefore we are terminating our agreement with LIVESTRONG, effectively immediately. As a result of this decision, our stadium will now be referred to as Sporting Park. While we are ending this relationship, our support of the fight against cancer will endure. We look forward to introducing new initiatives to assist these efforts in Kansas City."
Sporting's official website now refers to the stadium simply as "Sporting Park," while an early photograph suggests the signage at the stadium reading "Livestrong Sporting Park" has been turned off.
The statement from Heineman followed an earlier ESPN report in which both sides claimed the deal was set to end, but for different reasons. Livestrong contested that Sporting have failed to meet the financial terms of the agreement, while Sporting refuted the claim while also expressing their discontent at the arragement
Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles after being charged earlier this year of using performance-enhancing drugs. He has since had his name removed from the Livestrong Foundation and has lost several other sponsorships as well.
Sporting Park, which opened in 2011, is a regular venue for the US national team and is set to host the 2013 MLS All-Star Game in July.