The spread of LGBT events to destinations outside of major cities demonstrates both the growing acceptance and a clear understanding of the economic impact.
Gay Games 9 was a major success, attracting about 8,000 athletes and 25,000 visitors to Northeast Ohio, the head of the Akron/Summit County Convention & Visitors Bureau said Monday.
Gregg Mervis told Summit County Council that the region benefited to the tune of “tens of millions of dollars.”
The international games, held in Akron and Cleveland, wrapped up Saturday.
Mervis estimated the economic impact at anywhere from $25 million to $35 million and noted that an economic study was being commissioned.
“The cash registers were ringing robustly and quickly in many, many areas,” he said.
Gay Games 9 Executive Director Thomas Nobbe couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. Before the event, he had predicted 20,000 to 25,000 visitors and a $40 million impact on the regional economy.
Mervis and council members noted that there are more than just monetary benefits from hosting the games.
Councilwoman Sandra Kurt, who registered for the event and has a medal, shared a story about being caught off guard when talking with some women who traveled here from England.
One of them said: “Our perception of Northeast Ohio now is that it’s like the San Francisco of the Midwest.”
That’s not Kurt’s perception.
“She said, ‘I understand that but everybody here, that’s what they are taking back home with them,’ ” Kurt said. “That says a lot. They felt comfortable here and welcomed, and they are likely to come back. That’s fantastic.”