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EVENINGS OUT

 

 

October 9, 2009

 

We did it!

City lands 2014 Gay Games

Cleveland--After a year of planning, coalition-building, negotiating and bidding, northeast Ohio was selected as the site for the 2014 Gay Games.

The Federation of Gay Games announced on September 27 that Cleveland’s bid to secure the Gay Games was successful, and that the city had beaten out Washington, D.C. and Boston.

Two other cities that were in the early running, London and Miami, either dropped out or never submitted a formal bid.

The Games will be held here from August 9 to 16, 2014.

The site selection committee spent the end of July and the beginning of August visiting each of the three prospective host cities. Each town held rallies in their honor. Cleveland’s took the form of a massive community celebration centered around the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which stands to see a major increase in traffic during the  Games.

Cleveland’s bid was bolstered by a last-minute pledge of $700,000 to help the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission put on the event, in addition to another $1.3 million in in-kind donations like police support and access to facilities across the area.

Spearheaded by the Cleveland Synergy Foundation, the effort to bring the Gay Games to northeast Ohio united Cleveland City Council, Mayor Frank Jackson’s office, the Akron-Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Cleveland +, as well as the sports commission.

Akron’s involvement will net the city the golfing events, which will be held at Firestone Country Club, the site of the Bridgestone Invitational world golf championships, and a rodeo at the Summit County Fairgrounds. Cleveland’s bid was the only one of the three to include rodeo.

“The city of Cleveland is prepared to roll out the welcome mat to the LGBT athletes, their families and spectators from around the world,” said Jackson. “Fans of the Gay Games will find that Cleveland is a great place to celebrate sports and culture and that we have tremendous assets and amenities for them to enjoy.”

“The sports and cultural environment here is truly a uniquely Cleveland experience, one they will cherish for years to come,” he concluded.

While Cleveland may not have the reputation of Washington, D.C. or Boston, its Playhouse Square theater district is the largest performing arts complex in the nation, outside of New York City.

It also boasts top culinary talents like Michael Symon, who won the Food Network’s Next Iron Chef competition.

Long a stronghold of left-wing politics, in part because of its strong labor ties, the city has spent the last few years trying harder and harder to make a name for itself as a queer-friendly locale, beginning with outreach from both Cleveland + and the Akron-Summit CVB to LGBT visitors. The election in 2005 of openly gay councilors in Cleveland, Lakewood and Cleveland Heights also bolsters that image.

Last December, the Cleveland City Council passed a domestic partner registry, five years after voters in Cleveland Heights instituted one.

Five years from now, as many as 12,000 athletes and 100,000 spectators will flock to the shores of Lake Erie, and they will be witness to Cleveland’s strides in transforming itself from a second-tier rust-belt city to an artistic metropolis that values its LGBT residents.

Not all of the organizations involved operate solely based on those lofty and selfless goals. The event is expected to bring around $60 million into the area’s coffers, which would be a great boost to the local economy.

The lower cost of living in Cleveland was likely a contributing factor to its selection as the 2014 host city. Previous host cities like Sydney, Australia, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Amsterdam and even Vancouver are all more expensive cities, as are contenders Boston and Washington.

With the country mired in recession, the thought of lower-priced hotel rooms and transportation must certainly have been appealing to the Federation of Gay Games.

“Cleveland demonstrated to the Federation of Gay Games that they understood the mission of the Gay Games and our principles of ‘Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best,’ ” federation co-presidents Kurt Dahl and Emy Ritt noted in a release. “We were highly impressed by the facilities and infrastructure, the widespread community support, their financial plan and the city’s experience in hosting large-scale sports and cultural events.”

The final presentation to the Federation, made during their annual meeting in Cologne, the site of the 2010 Gay Games, was attended by Ward 13 Councilor Joe Cimperman, Cleveland Chief of Governmental Affairs Valarie McCall, Continental Airlines representatives and staff from Cleveland + and the Akron-Summit CVB. They came in support of members of the Cleveland Synergy Foundation, who are officially the organization that submitted the bid.

“We congratulate the winners,” said Vince Micone, the president of Metropolitan Washington Gaymes, organizers of his city’s unsuccessful bid. “Their team did an outstanding job. we wish them all the best and look forward to having Washington, D.C.’s multitude of LGBT sports teams participate in the Gay Games in 2014.”

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