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November 20, 2009
Gay Games will change Cleveland and Akron ‘forever,’ say organizers
Cleveland--Gay Games organizers kicked off a national tour with the ring of a bell instead of passing a torch.
Backers of the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland and Akron joined organizers of next year’s Games in Cologne, Germany, at the Cleveland City Club. The November 14 event began with the ringing of the club’s famous bell.
“When the Gay Games come, it will change Cleveland forever,” said Cleveland Ward 13 councilor Joe Cimperman, who moderated the forum.
Doug Anderson of the Cleveland Synergy Foundation said the idea to bring the games to the area were borne out of economics, and the belief that the area could attract some LGBT tourism money.
The two were joined by Michael D. Murphy of Fleishman-Hillard International Communications, Dirk Breiding of the Akron Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Sharon Gronowski of Positively Cleveland.
Stephan Collet and Annette Wachter, organizers of the 2010 Games in Cologne, were
Organizers expect the 2014 Gay Games to attract 15,000 to 20,000 participants and 200,000 spectators and support personnel over the event’s ten days, said Anderson.
The Games, set for August 9 to 16, 2014, are expected to bring $80 million to the region and launch a new era of cooperation between the cities of Cleveland and Akron.
It will be the largest event the region has ever hosted.
“Every good and service used will come from Northeast Ohio first, Ohio second, and the U.S. third,” Anderson said.
Murphy added that it will also be “the biggest games in Gay Games history.”
“Part one of the story is the Cologne story,” Murphy said. “We need to get the media machine behind Cologne to make it as successful as it can be, then take the Cleveland story on the road to answer the questions, ‘Why not Cleveland?’ and ‘Why not Akron?’ and get people to commit to come.”
Murphy said the site inspectors were so impressed with Cleveland when they visited last summer that one will vacation on Ohio’s north coast, and another has purchased a home.
Anderson said there will be five “cultural, artistic and athletic” events for fundraising, starting with a sports festival in April.
Murphy pointed out the positive developments in the area for LGBT people, including passage of Cleveland’s domestic partner registry in December, passage of the Equal Housing and Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the Ohio House, and the election of Sandra Kurt, Akron’s first openly lesbian official, as changes the Games want to spotlight.
“We have the entire package here,” Anderson said, “We want to share it with the world.”
Pointing out that the Games will open in 236 weeks, Cimperman closed the program noting that Cleveland put Jesse Owens on the world stage and elected Carl Stokes, the nations first black mayor of a major city.
“In 2014,” Cimperman continued, “Cleveland will set the stage again for human rights.”
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