"I think our plans are fairly good," Outgames marketing director says

Related: Outgames money troubles

By Ross Forman

The Countdown to Copenhagen is at a milestone marker.

Opening ceremonies for the second World Outgames are one year away, scheduled for July 25, 2009, as the capital of Denmark prepares for what likely will be the largest LGBT sporting event of 2009.
The 2009 World Outgames run through Aug. 2, with 38 different sports disciplines and a variety of cultural events. There is also a human rights conference addressing issues and concerns of the LGBT community, held in conjunction with Amnesty International.
The first World Outgames were held in Montreal in 2006, kicking off about two weeks after the close of Gay Games VII, held in Chicago.
“It does feel like a year away and we’re now much more focused on what’s going to be happening,” said Marc Northern, 49, the Director for Communications & Marketing for World Outgames 2009, a position he’s held since February. “At this point, we are really focused on the task at hand, making sure that our plans are working, that we have structure, that we are financially sound, and just realizing what we have to do to make this the best event for the people who are coming.
“I think our plans are fairly good, particularly on the sporting side. We have secured all of the venues. We have partners who are helping us do the sports – in some cases, it’s the local club; in a number of cases, it’s the mainstream sport federation or clubs. And that’s something we’re very proud of, because we’re really getting a lot of support among mainstream Danish sports associations. In a few cases, we’re having people and organizations from abroad help us organize an event.
“On the cultural side of things, there are many thing planned. The highlight will be something we’re calling OutCities – and six cities so far have accepted. Each city will be given a square in the central part of Copenhagen, and each city is bringing at least 20 artists who will come and do performances, exhibits, etc. Some of the cities confirmed to participate include Melbourne, Tel Aviv, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Amsterdam. And we’re still waiting on other [cities] to accept as well.”
The early registration period for World Outgames 2009 ends Sept. 30.
Northern predicted that swimming will be the most popular sport, primarily because International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA), which is the LGBT governing body for swimming, diving and water polo, will have its World Championships in Copenhagen at Outgames 2009.
Northern said soccer also will be very popular, as well as volleyball and badminton.
Some of the ice-related events, such as hockey, curling, figure skating and speed skating, may struggle with registration some since the Outgames will be held during the summer, Northern predicted.
Northern predicted “a minimum of 8,000 registered participants” for sporting events.
“I’d like to say 10,000 and I suspect we’ll probably be around 10,000, but to our sponsors and the city in particular, [8,000] is the number that we’ve said to them,” Northern said. “With the taxpayers of Copenhagen paying for more than a third of this event, we have an obligation to be very straight-forward and honest about what we know we can do.”
RF: Where are the Outgames at financially?
MN: “We have a budget of $64 million Danish Crowns ($13.4 million). We’ve received $25 million Crowns ($5.2 million) from the City of Copenhagen. We’ve received a grant from the Central Government (of Copenhagen) for the event for $6.1 million Crowns ($1.2 million). We’re expecting about $10 million crowns ($2.1 million) from participants – user fees, visitor passes, etc. The rest has to come through sponsors. We’re also looking for sponsors to deliver some of the equipment and other things. All of the facilities are being provided free of charge.
“We’re cooperating with the local Copenhagen Tourist Office and the Danish Tourist Board – Visit Denmark – (to arrange) journalist visits, promotional events. They’re using their budget and the Outgames name to promote travel to Denmark.”
RF: Talk about the millions of dollars in debt that the Outgames were in after the 2006 event.
MN: “I don’t know that much about the end financial result (from 2006). I know that there was a debt in Montreal at the end of the event. I understand that they found a resolution for whatever that resolution was. However, that debt was (to) the Montreal Organizing Committee, and it did not accrue to GLISA, the Gay Lesbian International Sports Association which owns the Outgames franchise. So (the 2006 debt) has not had an effect on us in Copenhagen financially. However, when we’ve approached (potential) sponsors, they’ve asked us about the (2006) situation, why did that debt come about and what we’re doing to avoid that happening (again). Our response to that is, we’re working very hard on risk-reduction.
“Montreal was a fantastic event, but there were vendors who were left holding the bag until they found a resolution a few years later.”
RF: Do you foresee the 2009 World Outgames at least breaking even financially?
MN: “Of the large (past) LGBT sports events, the EuroGames generally break even. In 2003, we broke even in Copenhagen. So, yes, we expect Copenhagen in 2009 to break even. We’re not going to make a lot of money on this event, but I think with the structures that we have in place, yes, I believe we’ll break even. The real challenge for these events is, liquidity. The models are all wonderful, but it’s maintaining liquidity through the event that’s really tough. I think we’ve done a very good job in Copenhagen controlling costs.”

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