Economic Impact of Gay Games Exceeds $52 Million

Thousands came and spent millions this August at the 2014 Gay Games presented by the Cleveland Foundation. The global event’s total economic impact was $52.1 million, according to a study.

“The Gay Games provided an important economic impact for the local Northeast Ohio economy, including higher revenues generated for local businesses and new local jobs,” says Shawn Rohlin, who co-authored the study with Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley. The two are professors of economics at Kent State University.

Participants were asked about their spending in a post-event survey. Among the results:

75 percent of the 20,000-plus who participated or attended the Games lived outside the Cleveland+Akron metro area.

Locals and non-locals spent $38.8 million in the main sectors of the economy, including hotels, restaurants, bars and gas stations.

An additional $20.6 million was generated in local incomes, roughly the equivalent of 726 full-time jobs.

64 percent of local participants said they would have traveled outside Northeast Ohio to participate in the Gay Games, taking their local spending of $8.4 million and “dropping” it into another region.


“We are thrilled the Gay Games were such a success for Northeast Ohio’s economy as well as its global reputation. First-time visitors talked about how welcoming and impressive Cleveland was, and some were planning a return trip before they even left town.” – David Gilbert, president & CEO of Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

“Akron and Summit County truly benefited from the thousands of new visitors during the week of the Games, and we already are experiencing long-term success. The city’s street festival during the Games – Flair Fest – was such a success that it will return next year and the International Gay Rodeo Association is already talking about coming back.” – Gregg Mervis, president & CEO of Akron/Summit County Convention & Visitors Bureau

About the Gay Games

The Gay Games is an international sporting and cultural event held every four years under the founding principles of Participation, Inclusion and Personal Best™. Launched in 1982, the Games invite participation from everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic or artistic ability, age, physical challenge or health status.

The Games are intended to bring a global community together in friendship, to experience participation, to elevate consciousness and self-esteem, and to achieve a form of cultural and intellectual synergy. The Gay Games is open to anyone 18 years or older. About 10 percent of participants are from outside the LGBT community.

The 2014 Gay Games presented by the Cleveland Foundation were August 9-16, 2014, in venues around Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, in the United States. More than 35 sports and culture events were held, with more than 20,000 people from more than 60 countries expected to participate and attend.

About the Cleveland Foundation

The Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $1.86 billion and 2012 grants of $91 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking and providing leadership on vital issues.

As part of its centennial year in 2014, the Cleveland Foundation is proud to be the first presenting sponsor in Gay Games history. The foundation’s support of the Games continues its long-standing commitment to social justice and inclusion.


POSTED: Monday, December 01, 2014 12:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, March 29, 2023 08:53 AM