Today, Sporting Kansas City revealed that their $200 million stadium project in Village West will be named after LIVESTRONG, the cancer-fighting brand made famous by Lance Armstrong and everybody’s favorite yellow wristbands. LIVESTRONG Sporting Park will be the first stadium to grant stadium naming rights to a nonprofit organization. A fellow football club (I am trying to become a fan so I’m allowed to use the correct terminology), FC Barcelona, has a five year partnership with UNICEF, but SKC is definitely raising and establishing the new bar for cause marketing in professional sports.
In an age where big banks and automakers dominate the stadium naming landscape, often because they are the only ones who can afford it, LIVESTRONG pushes the envelope again. You don’t have to look any further than Major League Soccer to find stadiums named after Qwest, Toyota, PPL, Home Depot, and Pizza Hut, among others. So how was a nonprofit able to compete with these business giants and secure the naming rights to arguably the best stadium in the entire league?
That’s because LIVESTRONG paid as much as you and I did.
That’s right, SKC granted the naming rights for free. I do not think I have ever been more proud to be a Kansas Citian. I have always boasted how my favorite teams are among the last to not sell out by acquiring a sponsor for their stadiums. The Royals at Kauffman Stadium and the Chiefs at Arrowhead are flat out anomalies in the current sports world. The fact is, stadium naming rights are among the most valuable and consistent revenue streams that sports organizations have to offer. Not only did SKC forfeit this revenue stream for years to come, but they are also going to donate a cut of all ticket, concession, and merchandise revenue to the LIVESTRONG foundation! Did I mention I was proud of these guys?
I absolutely love what Sporting KC is doing, and we are fortunate to watch this model sports franchise mold the business right before our eyes. Earlier this year, SKC President, Robb Heinemen announced a set of season member benefits, providing an unprecedented level of value to ticketholders. With today’s announcement of LIVESTRONG becoming their naming partner, they have revolutionized professional sports yet again.