SBD/November 7, 2012/Franchises

Sporting KC Owners Still Contemplating Future Of Livestrong Alliance Amid Revelations

Sporting KC's Illig (r) has not announced a decision on changing the stadium name
MLS Sporting KC has a "fascinating issue to tackle: whether to keep the Livestrong name on the stadium," according to Sam Mellinger of the K.C. STAR. Sporting KC is hosting the Dynamo tonight in the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinals, and the match will "presumably bring the cancer-fighting charity for which the stadium is named its most significant shot of non-doping publicity since Lance Armstrong was effectively proven a fraud" several weeks ago. The franchise's top execs "must weigh the fight against cancer against the potential harm of associating with a proven sports cheat." Mellinger notes the club's owners "aren't sure what will happen" with the stadium's name. Co-Majority Owners Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig have "remained mostly silent on the this topic" publicly, but privately they are "talking and thinking about this and know it will become one of their most pressing issues whenever the season ends." The key will be "whether Sporting's owners believe their own carefully cultivated brand will be harmed by continued association with Armstrong's creation, and whether Livestrong can fulfill its mission of inspiring cancer patients while its own founder has been so shamed." The "easy thing" would have been for Sporting KC to "walk away from Livestrong already." But a willingness to "wait this long indicates a willingness to go against making the PR-approved, masses-pleasing move of renaming the stadium" (K.C. STAR, 11/7).

KEEP IT CLEAN: In Houston, Jose de Jesus Ortiz wrote he hopes MLS and Sporting KC officials "are vigilant ... in protecting Dynamo fans from racist taunts" during tonight's game. Several people noted that Dynamo fans were "taunted during the 2011 Eastern Conference final at Livestrong Sporting Park last year by K.C. fans asking them to show them their green cards." Ortiz: "When MLS suspended some of the Dynamo supporters’ privileges at away games early in the season for their actions during the 2011 playoffs, many Dynamo supporters reached out to me and alerted me about the abuse they received in Kansas City." Ortiz added, "I’m trying to get MLS commissioner Don Garber to address this issue and tell the Houston Chronicle what MLS can do to make sure these incidents don’t happen again" (CHRON.com, 11/6).
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