Last September, the Federation of Gay Games chose Cleveland as the host of the 2014 Gay Games. But now Washington D.C. and Boston are complaining that Cleveland may have cheated to win by flouting the bidding rules. The Gay Games are the world’s largest LGBT sporting event and bring millions of dollars and much international esteem to its host city. But did Cleveland really cheat for that honor, or are Boston and D.C. just bitter?
Even though the FGG outlines the Gay Games bidding process rules in a text called “The Red Book,” Boston Spirit magazine says that a series interviews and documents have revealed that Cleveland regularly flouted the rules and got awarded by the selection committee for doing so. Among their claims:
• Cleveland got extra points for offering to host 40 sports whereas The Red Book says you can only host 28 max.
• The guidelines ask that each city’s proposed sporting venues be no more than 15 minutes apart by public transportation. Boston’s are. Cleveland’s golfing venue is over 45 miles away yet still snagged a score of “far beyond expectations.”
• The FGG says it wants long-term financial sponsors. Boston boasted nearly one million dollars more than Cleveland and DC, including money contributed by international and national companies interested in long-term partnerships. Cleveland only pledged $525,000 mostly from “local business owners.”
• Boston allegedly got unfairly low marks for their sports venues and for not having enough sports managers, while Cleveland went well over its allotted 45-minutes in their final presentation to FGG’s voting delegates.
In their defense, Cleveland’s bid organizers say they simply based their proposal on those of prior host cities and that the Red Book’s guidelines often differ from the guidelines in the FGG’s Request For Proposal forms and those stated by FGG officials.
Boston’s bid organizer Steve Harrington concurs. “What upset all of us was the inconsistency of ‘this is what we want, but this is what we’ll reward.’ Or ‘today, this is how the presentations are going to go, but tomorrow they’re going to go this way.’ In every single case, they had written the rules but refused to abide by them.”
According to the FGG’s top judge Darl Schaaff, the final bid scorecards given to the voting delegates don’t reflect the scores shown on the documents viewed by Boston Spirit, meaning that the magazine has an inaccurate record of each city’s final scoring. But even that statement reeks of a convoluted and shady process, though when have athletic organizations ever claimed to traffic in transparency?
Could it be that Cleveland won — not because of “rule-breaking” or superior hosting ability — but because the judges themselves don’t fully understand the city selection process?