Chicago Games, Inc
. (CGI), the organizing committee for Gay Games VII in 2006, is on or ahead of schedule according to the international Federation of Gay Games (FGG) representatives who attended their first official site visit from July 11-13, 2004, two years before the seventh quadrennial event opens in July of 2006.
"We are very encouraged by the open discussions we had with the Chicago Games board members, volunteers and staff," said Roberto Mantaci, Co-President of the Federation, upon return from Chicago to his home in Paris. "During site visits, the Federation's delegation is charged to look objectively at a whole range of issues and report back to our full board, which is made up of representatives of athletic, cultural, national and city organizations from around the world."
"When you look at the total picture, particularly the status of the registration system, Chicago's efforts are in fine shape," Mantaci said. "They have the enthusiasm, facilities, talent and fiscal discipline to organize a great Gay Games, and they are showing what a community-based organization can accomplish when everyone is focused on one goal."
Registration for Gay Games VII opened on July 1, 2004, not only the earliest ever before a Gay Games but using the most advanced technology as well. During the design phase, more than two dozen FGG representatives from seven countries on five continents assisted the CGI project leaders either as experts in their own sports or as experts in data collecting and database design. The result was an event-specific Gay Games registration system built in an unparalleled short amount of time.
Mantaci said the registration system consultation process was "a perfect example" of the two organizations' partnership. He said, "For several good reasons, both groups wanted to launch registration on June 1st. Nonetheless, CGI and the FGG mutually agreed to withhold the opening of registration for additional testing and incorporation of improvements identified by CGI and the Federation. That enabled Chicago to make changes that may not be visible to the person registering but which represent a significant advance from previous Gay Games registration procedures."
Athletes and artists are already signing up for Gay Games VII. Almost 150 people from Australia, Canada, several countries in Europe and the U.S. registered and paid in just the first 10 days, with more than half of those having attended the 2002 Gay Games VI in Sydney. Federation Co-President Kathleen Webster said this indicates both loyalty to the international LGBT sports and cultural movement represented by the Gay Games and recognition that Chicago is doing an excellent job.
"All through our discussions last week, there was a genuine spirit of cooperation and trust and a desire to learn from the experiences of previous Gay Games participants," said Webster. "The board and volunteers of Chicago Games, Inc
. really understand the Gay Games movement and its traditions. They have embraced the legacy of the previous Gay Games held in San Francisco, Vancouver, New York, Amsterdam and Sydney."
Gay Games VII will first and foremost be about the LGBT sports movement. CGI is already working with legal counsel with expertise in immigration issues to ensure that all interested participants receive information and support to attend the Gay Games in 2006. The Federation will also work with Chicago 2006 to bring more people from Latin America to the Gay Games than ever before.
Holding the site visit during the same month as the Gay Games two years hence gave Federation visitors first-hand experience with the weather and a look at the recently-finished Millennium Park project that has transformed downtown Chicago and is getting rave reviews.
"It was fantastic -- exactly what a summer event should feel like without being uncomfortably hot," said Webster. "No one expects the host to control the weather," she laughed, "but it's probably safe to say that conditions will be the same in 2006 as during our site visit. The blue color of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River at this time of year is just amazing and will be a beautiful atmosphere for the Gay Games events. Participants are going to be very pleased with what they see in 2006."
Federation officials meeting formally with Chicago representatives on the site visit included Webster (Philadelphia), Mantaci (Paris), Karl-Heinz Schmitz (Cologne), Teresa Galetti (Philadelphia), Roger Brigham (San Francisco), and Charlie Carson (New York). Chicago Games Inc. representatives were: board co-chairs Sue Connolly and Dennis Sneyers; board co-vice chairs Kevin Boyer and Tracy Baim; sports co-chairs Sam Coady and Suzi Arnold; treasurer Kurt Dahl; legal counsel Gary Medler; and consultants Elizabeth Valenti and Brenda Schumacher.
During the three days prior to the site visit, the Federation's Strategic Planning Committee also met in Chicago and attended presentations by external consultants with expertise in sponsorship, fundraising and organizational development. In addition to the FGG's site visit team, members of the strategic planning group included Gene Dermody (San Francisco), Charles King (San Francisco), Emy Ritt (Paris), Manuel Picaud (Paris), Paul Oostenbrug (Chicago), and Paul Savard (Toronto).
For more information about the international Federation of Gay Games, go to www.gaygames.com
. For information about Gay Games VII 2006 in Chicago, including registration details, go to www.gaygameschicago.org