Annual LGBT Sports Festival in the Works for Orlando

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Orlando may be out of the running for the Gay Games, but two organizations are still trying to make a name for Orlando when it comes to LGBT sports.

Converge Orlando, Central Florida’s LGBT tourism bureau, and the Central Florida Sports Commission (CFSC) are working to create an annual sports festival where athletes from South America, Central America and North America would gather in Orlando compete.

Mikael Audebert, Converge Orlando’s executive director, said the event’s “code name” is Pan American Games, but that is not the final title. He said Converge and CFSC partnered for the Gay Games bid and had talked about developing an annual sports festival should the bid not be successful. Orlando was eliminated as a potential Gay Games host city June 1.

“We got the exposure through the Gay Games; we might as well ride the momentum,” Audebert said.

According to Audebert, the event has the potential to bring millions of dollars of business to the Central Florida area.

“At the peak of this event, it could be close to 85, 90 million dollars every time we hold it,” Audebert said. “For the first two years, I think we’ll be closer to 40-50 million.”

He said much of that money will come from Orlando’s destination appeal.

“You don’t come here to just compete, you come to do the theme parks,” he said. “Individuals will come to compete and then will stay a few days more to enjoy what we have to offer. That’s what we’re really counting on.”

He said the Federation of Gay Games has shown an interest in the idea,

“We have their support and are going to continue working with them on developing this,” Audebert said.

The first step is to identify venues, then select eight sports and then finally, focus on marketing the event.

“There’s another crucial element—securing financial support,” Audebert said.

He said they’re looking at state, county and Visit Orlando grants.

The event would be open to LGBT athletes and LGBT ally athletes, just like the Gay Games.

Audebert said the plan is to hold the inaugural sporting event in September 2015.

In the meantime, the group is working on putting together a contingent of 300 Orlando athletes to travel to Cleveland next August and participate in the Gay Games. Audebert said the Federation of Gay Games told Orlando’s bid committee that a reason they were eliminated was because Orlando has never made an effort to participate in the Gay Games.

From our media partner Watermark


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