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The Federation's negotiations team: (left to right: Des Sullivan (QANTAS/FrontRunners/Sydney), Teresa Galetti (IAGLMA, Philadelphia), Kathleen Webster (co-president, attorney, Philadelphia), Gene Dermody (WWB, GGWC, San Francisco), Roberto Mantaci (IGLA, co-president, Paris), Richard Cobden (attorney, Sydney).


Local Delegates Move Forward

By Jim Provenzano
Bay Area Reporter

(Nov. 20, 2003) - The battle over the license to host Gay Games VII between the Federation of Gay Games and Montreal 2006 now over, local Federation delegates have returned to the Bay Area, disappointed but hopeful for the future of the official Gay Games VII.

Representatives from Montreal 2006, the group which won the bid for Gay Games VII, had yet to sign contracts or make an initial payment two years after winning the bid. In refusing to accept the final bid, they also made many accusations about the process.

A statement by the Federation of Gay Games said that they were "saddened and bewildered by Montrťal 2006's aggressive offensive to promote its position at the cost of dividing the GLBT community in general and the Gay Games movement in particular."

Have raised concerns about discord between Canadian sports groups, and the international Federation, whose offices are in San Francisco, federation statements cited "blatant inaccuracies" in the Montrealís last remarks.

While representatives of Montreal 2006 may have gained the majority of media quotes through the week the Chicago meetings, others who participated in the annual meeting, held Nov 7-15, attest to a different experience that contradicts Montrealís claims.

Part of the problem was the Federationís inability to counteract Montrealís claims. Unlike Montreal 2006, which includes paid employees in a for-profit company, Federation communications need to be approved by a committee that was engulfed in the non-profitís annual meeting agenda.

Rendez-Vous Montreal 2006 issued divisive remarks that the Federation "represents little more than itself, with only 21 of the 1000 sports teams around the world being FGG members."

"This remarkably misleading statement is shown errant by even a cursory look at the Federation roster," said a Federation statement (The expansive list is posted on the Federationís web site).

"The Federation represents far more than itself," their statement continued. "It is literally composed of directorships that attempt the difficult task of effectively representing the global GLBT sport community on a largely voluntary and unpaid basis. In contrast, Rendez-Vous Montreal 2006 was organized to represent itself only."

Though this split may give Chicago an advantage, even organizers of the annual meeting, and an unsuccessful bid, offered regret over the outcome.

"The contract called for an appropriate amount of review over Montreal's budget and any additional elements added to the Gay Games in Montreal 2006, should additional funding be received," said Kevin Boyer, the Chicago Planning Committee Lead Organizer for the FGG 2003 Annual Meeting.

Boyer was the first co-chair of Chicago 2006 (Chicago's Gay Games bidding organization), and currently serves on the Chicago Games, Inc., Board of Directors, in addition to other GLBT groups that supported Chicagoís recent and future Games bids.

"Iíve seen the faces of the FGG negotiators and spoken with them about what happened," he said. "They are heartbroken that negotiations didnít succeed, but resolute that they would not allow another Gay Games to move forward without what they considered to be appropriate oversight. The result could be yet another financial debacle, and the further degradation of the movement and the name."

Chicago is among the top bidding cities for Gay Games VII, and may be chosen to eventually host it. Atlanta announced that it would not seek to bid again.

"Gay Games supporters around the world can be assured that the Gay Games is going forward and its history will be respected," said Federation co-president Roberto Mantaci. "I am personally proud that our board re-focused its work to ensure that the Gay Games event remains a strong statement to the world about matters of importance involving the GLBT community in sports and culture."

Bay Area Federation delegates are taking the long view, and look forward to a possible spring 2004 decision at to the dates and location of the official Games VII.

Gene Dermody, who served as FGG Vice-President, acting President, and now as an individual delegate, is also the coach of Golden Gate Wrestling Club. A medalist in each of the first six Games, Dermody is known for his passionate and outspoken knowledge of the sometimes arduous processes that have built the GLBT sports movement.

The larger issue of financial "control" versus "accountability" has also been debated. Dermody maintains that the federation never intended to control the accounts of Montreal, but oversee its progress, to prevent what happened most recently with Gay Games VI.

"Sydneyís Games would have been closed down by their government (they have audit laws about ticket sales) before Opening Ceremonies, if the government knew what was really in their books," he said.

Dermody disputed claims of "unreasonable controls" being made by the federation, to prevent the seventh Games from repeating the pattern of increasing debt.

When asked to show sponsorship agreements that Montreal 2006 claimed to have with Tourism Montreal, municipal, provincial governments, and Radio Canada, Dermody said that Montreal reps failed to show up for that meeting.

They did bring contracts the next day, but written only in French (Federation bylaws state that English is the official language of all meetings and communications). Dermody said that Montreal reps refused to allow the FGG translator to view the contracts with a Federation lawyer.

Dermody noted this as an example of Montreal repsí previous sensitivity to the issue. When asked in 1997 during bids for the 2002 Games if the signage at their proposed events would be in French and English, Montreal delegates reacted as if deeply insulted.

"They practically blew a gasket," Dermody said.

Montrealís press statements also said that …quippe Montreal was banned from voting on Montrealís hosting, calling it "an un-democratic process." A later announcement accused the Federation of "spin," and using the media as a public platform for their issues.

Yet their statements omitted the fact that …quippe Montreal released internal sensitive strategic planning documents that addressed FGG weaknesses to the media.

Montreal 2006 also used an unauthorized copy of the Sydney 2002 database to contact some 9,000 Gay Games participants . …quippe Montreal was only prohibited from voting on Montreal 2006 issues, but eventually voted out of the federation.

Team SF's Ross Hayduk

Ross Hayduk, a board member of Team San Francisco, also attended the Chicago meeting as a voting delegate.

Currently studying at the University of San Francisco in its Sport Managment masters program, he said, "As a new delegate, itís a great responsibility, Team SF having grown from San Francisco Arts & Athletics," the organization headed by Tom Waddell, which led to the first Games.

"I went into it very idealistic," Hayduk said. "I was one of Montrealís big cheerleaders, and had met with (Montreal 2006 co-president) Mark Tewksbury to discuss all the things we wanted to do."

As the Chicago meeting neared, Hayduk mentioned how the FGG Executive Committee tried to communicate the previous history of Montrealís negotiations.

Of the late media response to the argumentative meetings, Hayduk explained. "Everything went out early with Montreal, because the Federation wanted to answer questions truthfully, and didnít answer out of emotion."

Despite the past enthusiasm for Montrealís proposal, Hayduk knew of the quadrennial eventís history.

"Other bidding cities have come in enthusiastically, but then it goes bankrupt," he said. "When you hear the same lines, you feel youíre getting set up. The Federation wanted to cut way back, and they got rejected at every turn."

What the Federation wanted to know, he said, was how the money would be spent. "If youíre going to take money away from the athletes and put it into a dance party, or a lavish cultural festival, tell us ahead of time," he said.

How Montreal raised funds is also questionable. A bidding city that has not obtained a license should not make deals for an event they hadnít at the time been approved to host. Yet Montreal used the bid win to gain sponsorship, then to justify their departure with the Federation.

"They had two years and were making deals in the name of the federation, using the Games name," said Hayduk. "Thatís how they got the money."

Hayduk asked athletes to consider the difference between groups. "We are a non-profit with all-volunteer staff. People donít understand the meaning of the Federation. Itís member sports teams, athletes all working together to represent us. We had to pay our way. San Francisco athletes donít realize how heavily they are represented, perhaps because the FGG hasnít marketed itself properly."

The question for the average participant remains; when will the official Gay Games VII be held, and will Montreal 2006 detract from that event?

"Itís unfortunate that Montreal feels like it has to program an event at the same time," he said. "If they have the $5 million, do something great in 2005. That would be fantastic."

Could Montreal provide enough housing and hotels for both the Games and Divers/Citť? Montreal said yes, and that sports facilities were being donated, but they offered no proof. Hayduk added that numbers change from bidding proposals to actual contracts.

"…quippe Montreal said, ĎTrust us, and if you donít like it, then sue us.í But we can't do that after theyíve gone bankrupt."

"Sydney didnít need to be that big. Athletes are there for the sport. In their free time, the majority were not going to circuit parties."

And yet, Montrealís plan includes simultaneous pride events that some say would turn the Games into a sideshow.

"We were so enthusiastic at IGLA 2003," said Hayduk. "Now, to be at odds with Montreal, and Mark Tewksbury, is saddening. But itís because Iíve taken a position to protect Tom Waddellís legacy."

Registration limits were also a touchy subject for Montreal, as their budget plans fees of up to $200 US per person. Montreal initially projected up to 24,000 participants.

Federation delegates were concerned that such a figure would have resulted in overcrowding. With only 11,000 participants in Sydney, some sports filled their ranks quickly, leaving most of those athletes competing several times a day throughout the week of competition.

Yet Federation reps did not make any hard demands on limits, as Montreal claimed.

"The Federationís request for a financial model that could support 12,000 athletes was not a ceiling or a cap, but rather a foundational starting point on which to build the games as large as Montreal desired," said a Federation statement. "Draft 13.5 accepted Montreal 2006ís initial target of 16,000 participants and a budget of $16M CDN as a base. (It) included mechanisms that would have allowed increases to the size and scope of Rendez-Vous Montreal 2006 upon achievement of financial targets."

But were the blusterings of Canadian press releases a cover for a less honest stance? Did Montreal plan to refuse to sign all along, saving themselves $1 million Canadian, before negotiations?

Hayduk wouldnít speculate, but added,"Everyone who believed in them was stunned when we gave in to everything, and they still pulled out."

Dermody discounted the possibility that Montreal had no intention of signing. He did hint of possible discord within the ranks of Montrealís group, particularly the tourism reps, who may have held sway over athletic representatives.

"Tourism Montreal left, leaving (co-president) Mark Tewksbury and a few others alone to deal with continued Federation questions," Dermody said. "They were actually two factions that could not agree."

With the annual gay pride celebration, Divers/Citť taking place the same week, Tourism Montreal stands to make its share of in-kind and real dollars, simply by having thousands of tourists and participants show up, pay for hotel rooms, and bring income to the city. "Whether the event goes bankrupt or not, they get their money," Dermody added.

Dermody offered a longer view of the history of bids and voting between the federation and Montreal. "You have to remember that they bid two previous times," he said.

When they lost the bid to Sydney (for GGVI), Dermody recalls their committee making scornful accusations of favoritism and bias. Yet, the Federation chose to forgive their outburst, and eventually voted their bid as the 2006 hosts.

Having severed ties to the federation, will Montreal succeed with its claims of starting a new group of advisors and organizers? What sports groups will align themselves with Montreal and risk taking sides against the federation?

Having so adamantly alienated potentially thousands of GLBT athletes, said Dermody, "Theyíve burned their bridges."

Despite the rancorous split with Montreal, other accomplishments were made at the Chicago meeting, including elections of board members and new participating sports groups. Southern California filmmaker David Sector also screened his in-progress documentary about the history of Gay Games.

A decision is soon expected on whether to hold electronic elections to choose the Gay Games VII host city, which will be decided by March 15, 2004.

Local athletes can learn more and share their concerns about these issues.

The Team San Francisco General Membership Meeting will be held Saturday, Dec. 6, at 3:00 pm, in the Public Meeting Room (Upstairs) at Bank of America, 18th and Castro.

Dermody, Hayduk, and other Bay Area Federation members who were in Chicago, including Roger Brigham, John Ascher, and Kristian Nergaard, will be in attendance.

For more information, visit www.teamsf.org www.gaygames.org, and www.Montreal2006.com

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