Outgames Lost $5 Million

OutgamesMONTREAL — The Quebec government says last summer’s Outgames, which featured thousands of gay athletes from around the world, ended up losing more than $5 million.
Municipal Affairs Minister Nathalie Normandeau said today that she’s disappointed with the outcome, especially since the province gave organizers more than $3 million.
Organizers initially announced a $200,000 surplus but an auditor hired by the Quebec government found the Games were actually in the red.
Many of the cultural and sporting events drew far fewer spectators than expected.
But Outgames organizers remained unapologetic.
“There are no regrets about the games,” Marielle Dupere, co-chair with former Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury, said today.
“Montreal needs this kind of international event to position itself in the market,” she said.
Dupere said the Outgames owes only $2.2 million to its suppliers — the rest of the debt is largely government loans — and blamed Quebec for botching organizers’ efforts to pay their bills.
Quebec covered some big-ticket items, like use of the Palais des congres and Olympic Stadium, rather than hand over cash to the Outgames to settle part of every bill owing, she said.
“The small suppliers that helped us will be penalized by this action,” Dupere said. She also criticized Normandeau for talking to the media about the Outgames financial shortcomings.
“We had an agreement with Quebec that we were not supposed to talk with the media.”
Jonathan Trudeau, Normandeau’s spokesman, confirmed today that Quebec has forgiven a $1.4-million loan to the Montreal Outgames to help the event pay off its other creditors and suppliers.
But the bailout still leaves Outgames organizers $3.5 million in debt to the city of Montreal, Tourisme Montreal and the business community, Trudeau said.
The First World Outgames, held in Montreal July 26-Aug. 5, brought more than 12,000 participants from around the world to compete in sporting events, attend cultural activities and take part in a human rights conference.
While organizers always insisted the event would more than pay for itself, they sent out a financial distress call a week before opening day, Trudeau said.
“They said they had a short- term cash flow problem that could jeopardize the event,” he said. “That’s why the government got involved.”
Dupere said the Games were delivered as planned and on budget. She blamed a lack of public support and the competing Gay Games in Chicago July 15-22 for spoiling things.
from The Toronto Star

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