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A look back - What happened?!

18 November 2003 | glrfcentral
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First, the quick background on bidding for a Gay Games. Every Gay Games has 22 required sports specified by the Federation of Gay Games (of which rowing is not one), and 8 additional sports that are selected by the Host City.


Then, it begins. It started with Montreal’s bid to host the 2002 Gay Games. That bid, presented in 1997, was unsuccessful. In October 2001, Montreal tried again and won, over three other bids: Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Montreal would host the Gay Games in 2006. Of the four cities that presented bids in Johannesburg, Montreal was the only city that did not select rowing as one of the additional sports in their bid.


Starting in January 2001, GLRF began to lobby to have rowing featured as one of the official sports at the Montreal Gay Games 2006. As a result, Montreal formally petitioned the Federation of Gay Games at their Annual Meeting in July 2002 to have rowing substituted for racquetball as one of the official sports for 2006. The request was immediately taken to “committee” by the Federation of Gay Games.

In the ensuing year, a battle ensued deep inside the Federation of Gay Games Sports Committee. Representatives from Rowing and Racquetball presented impassioned pleas on behalf of their sports. A recommendation from the Sports Committee was never forthcoming because the shadow of a dispute about the License Agreement began to darken everything. The word was sent out that the whole issue of rowing was not to be addressed until after the license agreement had been signed. Clearly, rowing was a bargaining chip for the Federation of Gay Games.


A week before the start of the Sydney 2002 Gay Games, with the entire event in jeopardy of being canceled due to extreme cash flow problems, Montreal was informed that their original bid of 24,000 participants had to be reduced to 12,000 participants, at least initially. Montreal balked at such a major change in their bid. Thus began the dispute.


On 02 September 2003, with negotiations at a standstill, Montreal requested that the issue of the License Agreement be put before a mediator. The Federation of Gay Games Executive Committee responded that they would not enter into mediation and instead sent all of the board of directors an eMotion authorizing the Executive Committee to pursue a continued negotiating strategy of 12,000 participants and the authorization of $20,000 for the use of an attorney to act as a third party negotiator. GLRF voted in favor of this option if only because it authorized continued negotiations with Montreal until 07 Nov and because it held out the hope that perhaps through third-parties, an agreement could be reached.


Up to this point, 12 separate versions of the license agreement had been discussed and presented between the two parties. On 29 September 2003, Montreal presented license agreement version 13, which it signed in advance, as a gesture of its willingness to come to an agreement. The Federation of Gay Games Executive Committee unilaterally rejected version 13 and developed a list of nonnegotiable items before any further negotiations could continue.


On 08 October 2003, Montreal requested that the dispute go to arbitration since no progress was being made. The Federation of Gay Games Executive Committee responded against such a request and again sent all of the board of directors an eMotion that authorized the “Negotiation Team” to pursue the continued strategy of 12,000 participants with the list of nonnegotiable items take it or leave it. GLRF voted against such a motion because it pointed in a direction of a failed negotiation process.


GLRF felt it was absolute lunacy to abandon a host city two years into the organizing process even with rowing not being one of the required or additional sports. GLRF felt that the Montreal 2006 organizing team had significant momentum in terms of reserved athletic facilities, blocked hotel rooms, worldwide publicity and awareness, advanced web site development, guaranteed initial public funding, and a paid, experienced staff to host a successful Gay Games. Furthermore, GLRF felt that a bird in hand was worth two in the bush in terms of the crucial license fee. Montreal 2006 was committed to paying the full license fee of $655,000. If the Federation of Gay Games were to yank the Gay Games bid from Montreal, what were the chances of a new host city paying the full license fee with only 2 - 3 years left to organize and ramp up their staff and funding sources? This fee is the sole funding source for the FGG.


Throughout October, media stories began to appear about the dispute. The two sides continued to position and posture and agreed to a final negotiating attempt on the weekend before the start of the Annual Meeting of the Federation of Gay Games in Chicago. Those negotiations ended with Montreal walking away at 2 am on Sunday morning.


On Monday morning, 10 Nov, the Board of Directors of the Federation of Gay Games convened the Annual Meeting. The entire day was spent in discussion and procedural motions for and against the Montreal License dispute. In the end, three motions were presented. The first was a complete cessation of negotiations. The motion at first carried and then failed. The second motion, in favor of the last license agreement presented to Montreal the previous Saturday night, carried and was relayed to Montreal. There were 4 no votes. GLRF was one of them.


The third motion, presented by GLRF, in favor of the version 13 license agreement from Montreal, was never considered since the motions were presented in sequence and the following motion would only be considered if the previous one failed.


On Tuesday, 11 Nov, Montreal notified the Federation of Gay Games that it could not accept the last offer and declared the negotiations over. With that, the Federation of Gay Games began to pursue an alternate host for Gay Games 7. The three cities that originally bid for Gay Games 7, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, will all be notified of the opportunity to submit new bids. A decision on a new host for the Gay Games will probably not be made until early in 2004.


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