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Portland to Host 2016 LGBT World Cup

Friday, April 03, 2015


It's known as the gay world cup, and it’s coming to Rose City. 

Portland has secured the bid for one of the biggest LGBT sporting events in the world, the 2016 International Gay and Lesbian Football Association World Championship. 

A team huddles at the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association World Championships. Photo: IGLFA

Portland, a surprise choice when pitted against a rival proposal from New York, won the bid after an extended deadline and a multi-agency effort to to bring the tournament to the Northwest. 

The Net Rippers Football Club, an LGBT soccer club in Portland, were chosen by the IGLFA, after 17 cities originally expressed interest (Full disclosure: GoLocalPDX reporter Annie Ellison is a member of the Net Rippers). 

“Traditionally, tournaments have been in bigger cities, with more established LGBT soccer clubs,” said Net Rippers FC President Sammy Rodriguez. “It’s the first big event we are holding and it will give the world a chance to know the Net Rippers.”

The fields were donated, participating hotels nailed down, and partnership letters signed by a team of civic, corporate and community entities including Nike, Travel Portland, Oregon Sports Authority, Portland Parks and Recreation, Oregon Adult Soccer Association, Portland Area Business Association, and CC Slaughters. 

Now with the bid secured, Rodriguez said there is hard work ahead, including finalizing dates for the tournament. 

The Portland Net Rippers Football Club marches in the 2013 Portland LGBT Pride parade. Photo: Net Rippers via Facebook

According to IGLFA Board Co-President Kimberly Hadley, the size of the tournament varies depending on timing and location -- the championships in Cologne drew 80 teams while the 2014 tournament in Cleveland brought just 19. Portland is anticipating roughly 38 teams, which, coupled with fans and admirers, means a surge of tourism dollars into the city. 

Another reason the IGLFA board chose Portland was the participation level of women in soccer among the Net Rippers, and on the West Coast. Typically, LGBT tournaments are male-dominated, but organizers expect a significant portion of the turnout to be women. The city is home to the Portland Thorns, the best supported team in the National Women's Soccer League. 

Nearly half of Net Rippers members are women, a staggering number for recreational LGBT sports. Rodriguez said recruiting female teams to the tournament will be a focus for organizers. 

What's Portland?

“Portland’s going to have their hands full in some ways,” said Hadley. “What’s Portland to someone who lives in Europe?” For instance, the treasurer of IGLFA had to look up where Portland, Oregon was on a map. 

In addition to its food carts, plaid and women’s soccer fanaticism, Portland has a secret weapon --  Nike. The sportswear goliath has agreed to partner with the tournament, a pledge that caught the attention of IGLFA officials. 

“I know what they can do, how they stand behind the LGBT community,” Hadley said. “That gave it a lot of weight.” 

Oregon Sports Authority has committed to covering the costs of the soccer fields at Delta Park for the week-long tournament, an estimated $10,000 value. 

New York was a tough opponent to beat out. The city, in addition to being NEW YORK boasts the world’s first LGBT soccer club, three airports, an endless selection of hotels, and is a destination in and of itself. But, it’s expensive. 

“What it translates into is international visitors coming to Portland, introduced to the majesty of Oregon,” Drew Mahalic, the Oregon Sports Authority’s CEO, said. 

“We know that for the most part, the visitors are coming for first time, so we know they will want to come back here for another time—business or pleasure.” 
Although Mahalic said he didn’t have an estimate for the economic impact of the event, he said the tournament will bring a large number of international visitors, staying in hotels and visiting shops. 
But the event will have a bigger impact than a just an economic one, he said. 
“It’s a sense of pride. Our community is supporting, recognize bringing value to our area,” Mahalic said. “A lot of partners involved, making sure the event is successful -- and that is kind of the Portland way.”


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