Dueling Gay Games in 2006: Chicago Is the New Chosen City for Gay Games 2006, While Montreal Will Offer a Competing Event. Can Either Break the Games' Financial Curse?

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After Montreal withdrew as host of the 2006 Gay Games--throwing the world's premier gay athletic competition into jeopardy--the event's governing body on March 2 selected a new host: Chicago.

Montreal was chosen in 2001, but a disagreement last year with the Federation of Gay Games over finances led that city's organizing committee to end negotiations and set up its own event--now dubbed Rendez-Vous Montreal 2006, which is slated for July 29 to August 5. The 2006 Gay Games in Chicago will be held July 15 to July 22.

Federation of Gay Games copresident Kattleen Webster says Chicago and Los Angeles, the two cities that submitted new bids for the 2006 games, presented good proposals. Chicago was chosen partly because of its emphasis on athletics.

Webster and other federation leaders say they are dedicated to ending a legacy of deficits that has trailed the Gay Games as the event has grown. Vancouver lost $84,000 in 1990, New York lost $700,000 in 1994 (reduced by half postbankruptcy), Amsterdam lost $1.8 million in 1998, and Sydney lost $1.1 million in 2002, with at least the last three ending in bankruptcy.

That's partly because organizers overspent on nonsports events that showcased everything from poetry to activism. They also overestimated the number of sponsors they could get. "Cultural programs that are not core to the Gay Games need to be produced by institutions that have the expertise to do that," Chicago Games Inc. spokesman Kevin Boyer says. "So if there's going to be a film festival associated with the Chicago Gay Games, that film festival needs to be produced and managed by the Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival board."

Meanwhile, Rendez-Vous Montreal has a 2 1/2-year head start in fund-raising and organization. …