Street. Lewis — Centene Corp. has withdrawn from naming the new sponsor of the new Major League Soccer stadium here, just eight months after the deal was struck.
The team said Tuesday that St. Louis City Stadium will be called CITYPARK, and it is looking for a new sponsor.
The Clayton-based health insurer’s decision marks the first major disruption among the team’s corporate sponsors which include some of St. Louis’s most well-known companies, such as Anheuser-Busch and Purina. It also comes amid ongoing electrical problems at the stadium, which has not been operating at full capacity for two months.
Corporate sponsorship was a key component of St. Louis’ campaign to attract the MLS expansion team. Commissioner Don Garber said in 2019 that this would assure the league and other owners that the area could support a team.
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Centene and St. Louis City SC in February announced a 15-year deal for the naming rights for the 22,500-seat stadium on Market Street near Union Station in the downtown area. The team did not disclose after that the value of the deal.
Team leader and CEO, Carolyn Kindle, said in a statement Tuesday that after discussions with Centene, the groups agreed to “reshape” their partnership. Centene and St. will continue. Louis City SC Work together on community health and wellness initiatives.
It’s another blow to the football team after a city contractor broke an electrical tube and a September rainstorm caused millions of dollars in damage to the communications and electrical room.
A spokesperson for St. Louis City SC further questions about Centene’s decision to the company.
Centene said in a separate statement that the company is reorganizing its community care and philanthropy to support its mission to better transform health in the communities it serves. The company said Centene’s partnerships moving forward will focus on creating “tangible, long-term value for local communities.”
However, MLS officials expressed their admiration for the team’s popularity with the community.
“We’re just seeing incredible momentum behind this club,” said Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president. “We think CITYPARK is a great name.”
It’s not the first Major League Soccer stadium to lose its star in recent years. In 2020, the Bank of California backed out of its $100 million 15-year naming rights deal with the Los Angeles club, even though the team’s stadium still bears the company’s name.
The interest in partnering with the football team has never been stronger, St. Louis Chief Revenue Officer Dennis Moore said in a statement.
“We are still impressed with the tremendous support from both our fans and the business community,” Moore said.
The decision is in line with Centene’s recent moves to revalue its portfolio and divest assets and real estate.
Under former CEO Michael Niedorff, Centene has grown into a giant in the managed care industry, largely through acquisitions. Neidorff took medical leave in February, and Sarah London was appointed as his replacement in March. Nieddorf died in April at the age of 79.
In recent months, investors have been searching for the company to improve profit margins and reduce unnecessary assets. In 2020, the company halted plans to expand its headquarters in Clayton and killed the project this year. In August, the company abruptly scrapped its plans for a $1 billion East Coast headquarters in North Carolina.
Tom Timmerman of Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
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