By Charlie Carson, IGLA Representative to the Federation of Gay Games
The site selection process for Gay Games X in 2018 is under way and final selection will take place next year. Already, expressions of interest to bid have been submitted from Limerick, London, Orlando, Paris and Rio de Janeiro ahead of the initial 15 July 2012 deadline.
The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) will send a Request for Proposal (RFP) to all city groups that meet the deadline. The RFP is the main bid document, outlining many of the requirements for hosting the Gay Games. Groups that are still interested in bidding after reviewing the RFP are invited to attend special information sessions at the FGG’s annual meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria over 19-22 August.
I will write more about the Federation’s site selection process in a future column – it is, after all, one of the group’s most important responsibilities every four years. For now, here is a brief timeline and look at the various city groups that have bid for past Gay Games.
1982 and 1986 – Gay Games I and II – San Francisco
Vancouver representatives were already in conversations at Gay Games I with San Francisco Arts & Athletics about hosting the event, but SFAA decided to hold the second edition again at home to improve some of the logistics issues. Vancouver stayed in close touch with SFAA, though, and at the closing ceremony of Gay Games II was announced as the next host.
1989 – SFAA’s board formally changes into the international Federation of Gay Games board. Site selection responsibility now falls with the FGG.
1990 – Gay Games III – Vancouver
A nominal bidding process took place during the week of the games, between the New York in ’94 group, steered by Tom Cracovia, and Sydney, proposed by Gay Games co-founder Paul Mart. There really was no doubt, however, that New York would win – the bid group was highly organized and was taking advantage of the historical coincidence that the next Gay Games would be the same year as the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
1993 – Site Selection in Washington, D.C./Arlington, Virginia for Gay Games V
The FGG decided that a host group could best use five years to prepare rather than four. Holding site selection the year before meant the next host could attend a Gay Games, watching and learning directly from its predecessor. Three cities entered the first, fully competitive bidding process: Amsterdam, Atlanta and Sydney. Olympic legend Dawn Fraser attended the meeting on behalf of the Sydney bid, and IGLA’s delegates were impressed with Sydney’s aquatics plans. In the end, most delegates thought it best to take the games to Europe next.
1994 – Gay Games IV – New York
1997 – Site Selection in Denver, Colorado for Gay Games VI
Five city groups bid this year: Dallas, Los Angeles/Long Beach, Montreal, Sydney and Toronto. IGLA supported Sydney on the first ballot, but we were suitably impressed with the personalities and conservative business smarts of the Dallas group that we were ready to support them if by some unexpected circumstance Sydney was eliminated.
1998 – Gay Games V – Amsterdam
2001 – Site Selection in Johannesburg for Gay Games VII
Atlanta returned to bid and was joined by second bids from Montreal and Los Angeles. Chicago was the fourth eligible city. After the 1997 bidding, the FGG decided that five bidding cities was too many and set up a round of preliminary balloting so that there would be no more than four finalists. In fact, there were two competing groups seeking to represent Los Angeles and one of those was eliminated during the preliminary round. This took place months before the final presentations occurred.
At the meeting in Johannesburg, Montreal received a majority of votes on the first ballot and Atlanta had the next highest number. Two years later, citing dissatisfaction with financial reporting requirements in the still pending contract with the FGG, Montreal decided to host its own event, leaving the FGG to reopen a shortened bidding process for Gay Games VII.
2002 – Gay Games VI – Sydney
2003 – Site Selection by Electronic Ballot for Gay Games VII
The FGG asked the other three bidding groups if they were still interested in hosting the 2006 Gay Games. Atlanta said they would accept being awarded the games as the second-place group in the initial round of balloting, but declined to enter a new bid process. The FGG believed a shortened, renewed bid process was necessary out of fairness. Both Chicago and Los Angeles agreed to participate, with Chicago being selected.
2005 – Site Selection in Chicago for Gay Games VIII
Holding the site selection in the upcoming host city provided a neutral location in relation to potential bidding cities and gave the FGG a chance to get to know organizers of the upcoming games. This was the first time no North American cities chose to bid – and the three bidding groups came from Cologne, Johannesburg and Paris. Cologne’s credentials were deep – the first LGBT sport club in Europe was founded in Cologne before Gay Games I – and that combined with their team’s winning personalities and the city’s love of sport earned selection on the first ballot.
2006 – Gay Games VII – Chicago
2009 – Site Selection in Cologne for Gay Games IX
In this round, all finalist cities were from the United States: Boston, Cleveland and Washington, D.C. All three cities have superior sport facilities and the potential to host a great event. Taking the games to Cleveland was seen as an opportunity to bring Gay Games messages into a part of the world that is not exposed to LGBT issues as much as other cities, and in the end that compelling argument tipped the balance towards Cleveland’s selection.
2010 – Gay Games VIII – Cologne
2013 – Site Selection in Cleveland for Gay Games X
Ken Heard of Toronto’s Downtown Swim Club and I will be IGLA’s delegates at next year’s meeting, casting IGLA’s two eligible votes. Long before that meeting, members of the FGG Site Selection Committee will make in-person visits to the finalist cities and the finalists will submit written plans for hosting in 2018. Each finalist makes a formal presentation at the meeting, answers individual questions, and then all finalists will have representatives on a panel for a final round of questions prior to balloting. The presentations and balloting are nerve-wracking, thrilling, and the culmination of an enormous amount of work on the part of the bid groups and the FGG’s Site Selection Committee. As mentioned above, expressions of interest have been filed by Limerick, London, Orlando, Paris and Rio de Janeiro – and that is an exciting group from which to select!