Sporting Kansas City Severs Ties with Livestrong, Adds New Jersey Sponsor

By Community | January 17, 2013

MLS club, Sporting Kansas City have announced they have severed ties with the Livestrong Foundation while also announcing their first-ever jersey sponsor.

In a statement on their website, Sporting CEO Robb Heinemann revealed they no longer felt they could work with the charity.

“Over the course of the past year, it became clear that Livestrong no longer shared the same spirit of partnership, despite our perseverance to the contrary. We realized at the time this could be the beginning of a tumultuous period for the foundation. We were patient as they sorted through these issues. Despite the distractions, leadership from Livestrong and Sporting Club were actively engaged in discussions to redefine expectations for both parties. Based on assurances from key Livestrong leadership, we believed this ongoing dialogue was very positive.”

“We were disappointed to learn Livestrong is utilizing aggressive tactics designed to force us into an unsatisfactory arrangement. 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.

The result of the terminated deal will mean Livestrong will lose naming rights to Sporting’s home stadium.

“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.”

This follows reports that Lance Armstrong, who is the founder of Livestrong, has admitted to doping in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey.

The MLS team also revealed they have signed a deal with Ivy Funds, an investment strategy company to be presenting jersey partner of Sporting Kansas City and official investment management partner of Sporting Club.

The Ivy Funds logo will be prominently displayed on the front of all team jerseys at the start of the 2013 MLS season, including Sporting Kansas City’s new 2013 home uniform that will launch on Feb. 27.

“They offer us everything we wanted, with the key attribute being local,” said Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman. “Local was always the thing that was going to be most important to us in a jersey sponsor and then innovation. Ivy Funds has proven that they’re an innovator in their field. We wanted something that connected to our community in a large way and that’s exactly what this relationship is going to allow us to do.”

The multi-faceted and fully integrated corporate sponsorship also provides Ivy Funds with naming rights to the Executive Suite level at Sporting Park, entertainment at the stadium for clients and employees, as well as engagement opportunities with Sporting KC players for charitable efforts and appearances.

“Sporting Club is an exemplary franchise on and off the field, and we look forward to growing with them as soccer rapidly cements its place among professional sports in the United States, as it already has globally,” said Thomas Butch, CEO and President of Ivy Funds Distributor, Inc. “With its visionary management, world-class venue and talented, accessible players and coaches, Sporting Kansas City provides a great partner to further extend the Ivy Funds brand throughout the United States and abroad. We look forward to a broad-based, constructive partnership.”