This year’s Montr? Outgames lost more than $6 million, government officials have revealed, in a major embarrassment for organisers who until recently insisted their event made a profit.
A month after rival sporting event the Chicago Gay Games sold assets to try to make up a $200,000 budget shortfall, authorities in Qu?c announced this week the Outgames ended CAD$5.3 million (AUD$6.09 million) in the red.
The dramatic deficit came to light when the Qu?c government -“ a major Outgames sponsor -“ audited the event recently, Canadian Press reported.
Outgames previously said it made CAD$200,000 on the event, which took place in Montr? in July and August.
It has also emerged Outgames organisers made a last-minute plea for financial support a week before the opening ceremony. The Qu?c government stepped in amid fears the games might not go ahead.
Qu?c municipal affairs minister Nathalie Normandeau said this week the result was a disappointment because the provincial authorities donated more than CAD$3 million to the event.
Qu?c’s government has written off a CAD$1.4 million loan to help Outgames pay its debts. Outgames still owed more than CAD$3.5 million to various creditors, the government said.
Outgames attracted about 12,000 participants. Last year co-chair Mark Tewksbury told Sydney Star Observer the event needed 13,000 registrations to break even.
The other Outgames co-chair Marielle Dup? said this week poor public support for the event and the rival Chicago Gay Games explained the multimillion-dollar loss, Canadian Press reported.
There are no regrets about the games, Dup? said.
Montr? needs this kind of international event to position itself in the market.
Dup? also criticised the Qu?c government for going public about the deficit.
We had an agreement with Qu?c that we were not supposed to talk with the media.
Outgames owed about CAD$2 million to suppliers, Dup? said. The remainder of the shortfall consisted of government loans.
Former Federation of Gay Games board member, Sydney lawyer Richard Cobden, blamed financial indiscipline for the Outgames loss.
He claimed organisers allowed the event to get bigger and bigger with little regard for the financial consequences.
I was surprised [by the result] only because -¦ Outgames put it out towards the end of their Games that they would come in on budget, Cobden told the Star.
Cobden helped with negotiations for the planned 2006 Gay Games in Montr? before a dispute over the scope of the event saw it given to Chicago in 2003. Outgames formed as a rival event.
The Montr? result continues the money-losing trend of international gay sporting events.
The Sydney Gay Games had debts of about $3 million when it went into administration in late 2002. Previous Gay Games in Amsterdam, New York and Vancouver also recorded losses.
Cobden said he believed the Gay Games were still viable, but predicted the Montr? Outgames would be the last.
A second Outgames is planned for Danish capital Copenhagen in 2009. Cologne in Germany is scheduled to host the next Gay Games in 2010.