The home of Sporting Kansas City will now be known as Children's Mercy Park.
The joint press conference today at the hospital was a packed house. Sports media, local TV news stations, patients, doctors, basically the entire Sporting KC team, Kit and even Blue the Mascot were all on hand for the big announcement.
The wide reaching partnership is a 10 year deal kicking off this upcoming season. Beyond the naming rights, there are three components they will focus on:
- Improving access to pediatric-trained sports medicine
- Strengthening the community
- Protecting youth athletes while educating parents and coaches.
Children's Mercy Hospital will become the official healthcare and sports medicine provider of the club while receiving naming rights to the training center and championship field in Swope Soccer Village. Meaning they will be the official home of the Swope Park Rangers and FC Kansas City, as well. In addition, in what is perhaps the key part of the deal, Children's Mercy will be the healthcare and sports medicine provider for the soon-to-be built National Training Center.
Owner Robb Heineman is very excited about the advanced sports medicine technology, and also the allure it will have around the world.
"The crown jewel is the involvement in the national training center," Heineman said to the media. "Our goal around that is to provide world class performance for our athletes on not only the senior team, but our youth athletes as well. The collaboration we’re working on there is going to be really special."
No details were provided on who paid whom, or if anybody paid any money at all. But the potential benefits are obvious, especially with the ownership group's link to the industry with Cerner.
Originally named Livestrong Sporting Park, the Livestrong was dropped in 2013 amid Lance Armstrong's doping scandal and disagreements between the two sides. After that poor relationship, the stadium was left simply as Sporting Park for three years until now. But the team is confident they have finally found the perfect fit.
"It’s such a great stadium with the fans, with the design and the technology, but what it needed was a really good name. So to have Children’s Mercy which is an iconic name in this marketplace, and in the health and wellness space which is so important to us," Robb Heineman explained.
"Honestly I can’t imagine a better local partner than Children’s Mercy for the name on the building. It just represents so many of the things we as an organization want to represent as well." - Owner Robb Heineman
It was a really happy environment with a lot of smiles and handshakes after working so hard to put such a huge partnership together. Sporting KC players were playing FIFA and coloring with kids, Blue was taking pictures, and of course Kevin Ellis and his best friend Kit were hanging out.
The KC kid, Kevin Ellis, and his relationship with Kit became well known this season and really symbolizes the extent of what this partnership can do for the city.
You can’t really put it into words you know. It’s unbelievable," Ellis told media after the presser. "To be involved because of my relationship with Kit it is awesome."
With a heavy influence on youth health and development, Ellis sees what he was missing as a kid and how this will really benefit the the sport and the city in the long run.
"It gives the kids in this region the benefit of having sports medicine and injury prevention so they can maximize their potential. That is something that none of us had when we were kids, Ellis reminisced. "For them to have this now, we will continue to see soccer grow and grow."
This partnership shows that the Sporting KC organization continues to be at the forefront of technology and aims to push forward, the sport of soccer in America.
Children's Mercy Park it is! What do you guys think?