Sox Nation Puts Best Food Forward to Woo ’14 Gay Games

by Roger Brigham

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday August 5, 2009

Three Eastern U.S. cities are contending to host Gay Games IX in 2014. With the enthusiastic backing of each of their larger business, government and tourism communities, the cities' respective committees will be rolling out the lavender carpet to woo the games--only one step in a process that can be harrowing.

Local organizations submit their initial bids according to formulae provided by the Federation of Gay Games. Several rounds of questions and answers ensue, largely through impersonal email.

Many of the questions are intentionally snippy, even antagonistic. The sports activists who make up the FGG test not just the bids submitted, but the bidders submitting them.

With a five-year commitment counting on the kindness of strangers to deliver the goods, members of the federation want to know how the bidders think, how they respond to new ideas, and how committed they are to the vision of LGBT sports.

Currently, a three-person team of FGG representatives is midway through a three-stop tour of the eastern United States, checking out venues and city accommodations for the three bidders: Cleveland, Boston and Washington, D.C. Site visits are a first chance to connect faces to names, realities to dreams for the contenders.

How Cities F?te the Committee

It began with a four-day visit to Ohio that culminated with a "Frivolity" rock concert in Cleveland last Friday. The FGG's Darl Schaaff of Anchorage, Dennis Sneyers of Chicago and Roz Quarto of New York are touring facilities in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., that would be used by the Boston bidders. They will also attend a board meeting of the Boston 2014 bidding group. The Massachusetts visit will culminate with a free kick-off rally Thursday at The Estate.

After Boston, the representatives will spend four days in the D.C. area. There, they will be feted at a "I'm Game 2014" rally Monday at Stead Park hosted by Metropolitan Washington Gaymes.

The representatives aren't visiting the cities to make any decisions on who should host; they're gathering information on the practicality of the competing bids. They will then submit reports in late September to the Federation of Gay Games annual meeting in Germany. There, the three bidders will make their final presentations and the FGG membership will decide with which city it will open serious negotiations for a final agreement.

Each of the bids offers variations on the number of "core sports" being offered.

Cleveland dropped cycling from its initial bid but wants to be the first Games to offer rodeo. The opening Boston bid does not offer martial arts or power lifting. Washington would debut exhibitions of sport climbing, skateboarding and ultimate frisbee.

Each hopes its strengths are enough to overcome its weaknesses and overcome the competing bids.

Boston: Historic Sports Tradition

Marc Davino, director of development for Boston Living Center, is heading up the Boson bid presentation. Naturally, he is a diehard LGBT sports junkie.

"It's actually been a dream of mine for some time to have a Boston bid," Davino said. "Since 1994, I've been an active member of the LGBT sports community."

For the Sydney Gay Games in 2002, Davino served as executive director of Pridesports Boston. In one interview at the time, he had said, "Boston 2014: Why not?" "So it's something I've had in the back of my mind for the last seven years," he told EDGE.

The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism enthusiastically supports the bid, as does the Massachusetts Sports Partnership and the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. They put up the $50,000 needed to fund the bid. Joining those three in the bid are Boston Pride and Pridesports Boston.

The members of the FGG site visit team are steeped in LGBT sports credentials. Quatro is a former co-chair of the FGG, directed operations for the 1994 Gay Games in New York City, and has been named an FGG Honorary Lifetime Member. Sneyers was a member of the winning big team for Gay Games VII in Chicago. Schaaf is a world renowned martial artist who is the FGG Site Selection Officer.

"Monday night when I met these folks and had dinner with them, I was inspired," Davino said. "I can't tell you how excited I am. We have such a great sports history here in Boston and it would be such an honor to host the Games."

The Boston bid banks on a rich LGBT sports tradition. A tight, urban clustering of sports events centers on the Harvard and Boston University campuses. They give an "athlete village" feeling Gay Games participants might want, locals argue. Plus, there's the added allure of having Opening Ceremonies at Harvard and the Closing Ceremonies at Fenway Park.

"In all of the sports we have put in, we have local people ready to step up," Davino told EDGE. (Cities have the option of adding in more sports later with FGG approval.)

Davino's own sports background is in basketball, flag football and softball. "I've met so many friends and travelled to so many places through those sports," he said. My passion has been gay athletics in Boston. I've gotten so much personally out of it. The majority of my friendships are strong and based on gay athletics. In terms of community, they open up doors."

The Boston 2014 kick-off rally will Thursday at The Estate, 1 Boylston Rd., from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but for planning purposes attendees are asked to RSVP with Boston 2014. The D. C. rally to support Metropolitan Gaymes Washington's bid will be Monday, 7"30-10:30 p.m. at Stead Park, 17th and P Streets, NW. There will be a free outdoor screening of the movie "Hairspray." Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is scheduled to attend. Information on the Cleveland bid is available from the Cleveland Synergy Foundation.

Roger Brigham, a freelance writer and communications consultant, is the San Francisco Editor of EDGE. He lives in Oakland with his husband, Eduardo.