One year after Chicago hosted nearly 12,000 sport and cultural participants at the 2006 Gay Games, the host organisation (CGI) has announced that it has completed the post-Games fundraising and wind-down process and revealed that the 2006 Gay Games broke even.

Such a positive financial result reverses a 20-year trend, having not been achieved since Gay Games II in 1986. CGI accomplished the result with two years less planning time than most previous Gay Games have had.

“In 2003 when we launched the bid to host the 2006 Gay Games, we promised our local LGBT community, the City of Chicago, and the worldwide LGBT sports movement that the 2006 Gay Games would break even financially,” said CGI board member Sam Coady.

“We also made the commitment to leave a lasting and positive legacy for future Gay Games hosts – a sound business model upon which future Gay Games could be built. We are proud today to have fulfilled those promises.”

The Gay Games have consistently been a boon for the local economy of the cities in which they have been hosted. Nevertheless, the past three Gay Games host committees lost significant amounts of money, threatening the future of the quadrennial sports and culture festival.

For the first time ever, in 2006, the Gay Games also faced a competing LGBT sports event. Held in Montreal just one week after the Gay Games, that competing event’s host organisation ended up losing several million dollars.

Chicago’s business model differentiated itself by dramatically increasing corporate partnerships, relying significantly upon volunteer professionals and pro bono services, establishing a sponsored worldwide marketing and media campaign, and outsourcing non-core elements to third parties.

It has been estimated that the 2006 Gay Games themselves contributed $50 to $80 million to the local economy, with some estimating that another 10 years of positive LGBT tourism visibility will generate millions more dollars in the long term.

“Looking to the future, we’re proud to have helped inspire our great Mayor Richard M. Daley to launch a bid for the 2016 Olympic Games,” said Kevin Boyer, CGI Board Co-Vice Chair.

“Our experience has demonstrated that Chicagoans come together in support of great and important civic endeavours, and we know that almost 3,000 Gay Games-trained volunteers and 400 business sponsors stand ready to help Chicago host the 2016 Olympics.”

At the Gay Games VII Closing Ceremony on July 22, 2006, Chicago passed the symbols of the Gay Games to Cologne, Germany, the host of the 2010 Gay Games. Johannesburg, along with Paris, was one of the bidding cities for 2010, but lost the bid by a close margin.

The Gay Games VII Gay Games VII Sports and Cultural Festival took place 15-22 July 2006. With 11,750 athletes from 50 countries competing in 30 sports, the weeklong event included band, cheerleading and colour guard performances, chorus, an ancillary arts festival, and a series of community-organised social events and parties.

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