SBD/March 11, 2011/People and Pop Culture

This Week's Newsmakers: Sporting K.C. Scores With Livestrong Naming-Rights Deal

Sporting K.C. lauded for naming-rights deal with Livestrong foundation
THE DAILY each Friday offers our take on the performances over the past week of people and entities in sports business. Here are this week's newsmakers:

WIN: SPORTING K.C. -- The MLS club takes a bold step and strikes a six-year naming-rights agreement with LANCE ARMSTRONG's Livestrong cancer foundation for its new soccer-specific stadium. The club will receive no fee and will donate between $8-10M to the foundation over the course of the deal, with the hope that Armstrong will be able to attract big concerts at the venue to make up for cash given up by the team. The unique mix of business and charity is new for the U.S. sports landscape and is well received locally, while it also puts an otherwise not-so-well-known franchise in the headlines.

LOSE: TMZ SPORTS -- It was announced with great fanfare in December '09 when TMZ Exec Producer HARVEY LEVIN confirmed plans to launch a sports website, which he felt would be unburdened and free of potential conflicts of interest, like league deals. Levin said at the time: "I don't really see a difference between a sports star and a celebrity." Teams, leagues and agents surely all shuddered at the thought. Well, they can breathe a bit easier as Levin much more quietly announced this week that plans were shelved.

DRAW: AIR CANADA -- Sponsors have the right to go public with any grievance they have, and Air Canada certainly did that this week in stating its concern about player safety in the NHL. But you must question whether the move was more for headlines and PR rather than real change, as most partners would choose a course of direct communication with its league partner rather than go through the press.
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