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October 22, 2010

New group signs on to produce 2014 Gay Games

Cleveland--The Federation of Gay Games on October 16 announced the formation of a new group to carry the license for the 2014 Games in Cleveland and Akron.

The move ends speculation that the Gay Games would move to Boston or Washington, D.C. following the cancellation of the Cleveland Synergy Foundation’s license to put them on in 2014.

The Federation signed a contract with the new group on September 30 to operate the Games, set for August 9 to 16, 2014.

The new group is called the Cleveland Special Events Corporation, and its board of directors is comprised of heavy hitters in the local political and LGBT scenes.

Mayor Frank Jackson is the chair, and members from governmental and pseudo-governmental agencies include Dirk Breiding of the Akron/Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cleveland City Councilor Joe Cimperman, David Gilbert of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Cleveland chief of government affairs Valarie McCall, Dennis Roche of Positively Cleveland and Joseph Roman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

Also on the board is Scott Finerman of Second Generation, an investment firm, Equality Ohio head Sue Doerfer, Cleveland LGBT Center executive director Jan Cline, Plexus’ Michelle Tomallo, LGBT event coordinator Michelle DeLozier and community member Nathaniel Tolliver.

Another four people, Kevin Schmotzer, Meredith Scerba, Sharon Gronowski and Eric Lutzo, are advisory committee representatives.

“The Gay Games in 2014 will shine a national and international spotlight on the city of Cleveland,” Jackson said. “Our representatives either lead or are a part of some of Cleveland’s and the region’s most dynamic institutions and will help show the world our greatness.”

Kurt Dahl, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games, expressed his satisfaction with the new organization.

“The high caliber of people and organizations that are part of this group is incredible and will help ensure wide support in the state of Ohio,” he said. “I am very impressed to see Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s involvement.”

The announcement came two months before the December 15 deadline set by the Federation for creating a new body to plan the Games. The Federation ousted the Cleveland Synergy Foundation, who put together the successful bid to host the games last year, in July.

Afterwards, the federation issued a statement saying, “The FGG, cooperating with its Cleveland partners, continues to work hard to ensure that planning for the 2014 Cleveland Gay Games progresses at a satisfactory pace. All parties continue to meet to ensure a smooth path forward to a successful 2014 Gay Games and we appreciate patience as these sensitive discussions take place.”

The Cleveland Synergy Foundation lost its license to produce the Games on July 6, reportedly because of irregularities in financial reporting to the Federation and conflicts with the Federation and its partners.

Synergy filed suit on September 2 against the City of Cleveland, the Federation of Gay Games, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Valarie McCall individually.

The suit alleges that the Federation failed to provide “a template, matrix, chart or spreadsheet” for financial documents that the federation required Synergy to provide.

It also claims that McCall, the city and the Federation tried to cut Synergy out of the equation, and that the Federation “has attempted to terminate the license agreement without proper notice and/or legal and factual justification.” The suit claims that since the license was not “properly” terminated, Synergy is still hosting the 2014 Gay Games.

The Federation has terminated licenses before. It pulled the 2006 Gay Games from Montréal completely, moving them to Chicago.

A pre-trial conference is set for November 15 before Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo.

Synergy attorney Richard Haber told the Washington Blade, “We believe that the evidence will clearly show that they . . . are in breach of the license agreement with us and that they have no authority to award the license to another entity.”

He also said he believes the judge will void the new licensing agreement. However, the contract between Synergy and the Federation stipulates that the federation has the right to revoke its license.

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