Montreal vows to press on after losing Gay Games
Organizers in Montreal have vowed to press on with their own athletics event under a new logo following the rejection of their plan to host Gay Games 2006. Montreal had been chosen in 2001 to hold the 2006 games, but the Federation of Gay Games, which licenses the event, rejected Montreal's plans on Tuesday. Montreal 2006, the group organizing the event, said two years of negotiations with the federation reached an impasse over financing and the number of athletes who would take part. "It is very disappointing," Mark Tewksbury, a former Canadian Olympic swimming gold medalist and copresident of the Montreal 2006 organizing committee, said at a news conference at City Hall. "We gave the federation our final offer, and they rejected it. But I am very excited that Montreal will still host gay games in 2006, regardless of the federation's decision."
Tewksbury had just returned from talks in Chicago, where the federation was holding its annual board meeting, The [Montreal] Gazette reports. The deal breaker between the two parties was the issue of financial control, Tewksbury said: "They have lost trust because they had deficits in games in the past. Now they want complete control. We appreciate this history, but they have to allow us to control the event in our market because we know it." A statement by Montreal 2006 said the federation asked organizers to reduce their original plan for 24,000 participants to 10,000 and to cut their budget from $20 million to $10 million. Montreal 2006 suggested 16,000 participants and a $16 million budget. The federation insisted on approval of budgetary increases and expenditures but left all legal responsibilities for the administration of the games to Montreal 2006, the statement added. The federation would not have participated in the fund-raising for the games but would have collected almost $1 million for the trademark rights, Montreal 2006 added.
Roberto Montaci, copresident of the Federation of Gay Games, criticized the Montreal committee, saying the figure of 16,000 participants had been accepted. "The Montreal 2006 offer did not give us guarantees that the image and brand of the Gay Games would be protected," Montaci told The Gazette. Asked whether the federation would hold Gay Games elsewhere in 2006 at the same time as Montreal's games, Richard Hogan, the federation's vice president, said the board is discussing a contingency plan to select a new city. The three candidates are Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The results will be announced in about four months, Montaci said.
The Montreal committee said its event, now dubbed Rendez-Vous Montreal 2006, will be a success even if the federation holds a Gay Games the same year. "Our event will be well-organized, while any other city will have a really short time to organize for the event," Jean Heon, a spokesperson for Montreal 2006, told The Gazette. Tewksbury said Montreal 2006 has contacted 675 gay and lesbian sports clubs worldwide and that about 20% have responded. "Based on the conservative numbers we have now, we will receive about 9,000 athletes, whether we had the Gay Games banner or not," he said. "I think we should be prepared to receive about 20,000 participants." Louise Roy, Montreal 2006 chief executive director, said the federation's decision will not affect Montreal's plans. "If you give the choice to an American to come to Montreal or go to Atlanta for gay games, he or she will come to Montreal," she said. "Montreal is one of the world's top 10 gay destinations. All we lost is the logo of the federation, but nothing else."