Hearne: The Story Behind Sporting Kansas City’s Bid to Book Concerts

Star sports scribe Sam Mellinger was on the right track…

Mellinger was high in pegging Sporting Kansas City’s stadium naming rights to Lance Armstrong’s cancer charity LIVESTRONG at a value of $2 million a year. SKC honcho Robb Heineman suggested only $1 million, possibly up to $2 million for the rights.

That said, Mellinger’s larger point being that "Livestrong’s “payment” — if you can call it that — was Armstrong’s "access to big-name performers who could help fill the stadium for high-dollar concerts," Mellinger writes. "Armstrong is close with Justin Timberlake, for instance. He shares a house in France with Bono. Jimmy Buffett rode in the pace car during one of Armstrong’s Tour de France races."

So will SKC be able to draw top drawer talent to its new outdoor soccer stadium despite competition from the myriad indoor and outdoor area concert venues, like the nearby, similarly-sized Sandstone?

"They’re going to get shows," says one concert promoter. "They’re going to be very successful and it’s going to change the concert dynamic of Kansas City. People are tired of going to Sprint Center and seeing the same act four times. And Kansas deserves some shows too. Sandstone has no seats in front of the stage, it’s a different model."

"They’re going to have a permanent stage at one end of the stadium with bleechers over it when it’s not being used," says another promoter. "It’ll seat 20,000 for a concert. Sandstone can do 20,000, too. And it can do seated shows but they don’t do them normally."

However whatever acts Livestrong Park gets likely won’t be because of an Armstrong schmooze.

"I don’t discount it," says the promoter. "He probably has a big sphere of influence, but the bottom line is we’ll see if he delivers. I don’t think he’ll get U2, for example, because the tour’s already booked and it’s a Live Nation tour. But he’s been out of racing for several years and I have no idea what he means if anything.

"The average artist like Kid Rock and the Rolling Stones don’t give a shit about knowing Lance Armstrong. You know, at that level, everybody knows everybody. Like Mick Jagger knows everybody. He doesn’t need Lance Armstrong to push him into something. It’s a small world; if they want to play for a cause they’ll play for a cause."

On top of that, "A lot of time the acts don’t want to play outdoors – it just doesn’t work," the promoter says. "The audience loves the outdoors but when a tour is designed, it’s usually either for outdoors or indoors – it’s harder to design it for both."

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