Prizm News / September 2, 2018 / By Bob Vitale
New York Liberty Coach Katie Smith; Keith Speers, a Columbus delegate to the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance; City Auditor Megan Kilgore; and Linda Logan, executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, were among those making the city’s pitch to host its third Gay Softball World Series. (Photo courtesy of Megan Kilgore; top photo courtesy of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission)

It’s the third time that Columbus will host the event since 2010. The city beat out San Francisco this time around.

 

By Bob Vitale

For the third time in 10 years, Columbus has been chosen to host the Gay Softball World Series, an event expected to bring 5,000 players and partiers to Central Ohio for six days in August 2020.

 

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As this year’s annual event began today in Tampa, delegates to the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance voted on a host for their 2020 tournament. Columbus beat out San Francisco and will become just the fourth city to host the series for a third time.

(Here’s the video that Columbus produced for members of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance)

“It’s special for Columbus,” City Auditor Megan Kilgore told Prizm. Kilgore, who last year became the first openly gay person elected to a citywide executive office, was part of a group that traveled to Tampa to make Columbus’ pitch.

Among the Columbus delegation: Katie Smith, the OSU basketball legend and current coach of the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

“They loved the people and the amenities,” Kilgore said of the group that chose Columbus. Many had good things to say about their time in the city for past series, Kilgore said. A few said they plan to retire in Central Ohio.

Before heading to Tampa, representatives of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission and Columbus Lesbian & Gay Softball Association lined up corporate, government and LGBTQ community support for the series, which will take place at Berliner Park on Columbus’ South Side. The group went to Tampa with pledges of business sponsorships, locked-in hotel rates and other agreements.

In a news release announcing the city’s winning bid, Mayor Andrew Ginther said: “For Columbus to earn the right to host this prestigious event for the third time showcases the public and private partnerships that make The Columbus Way possible for everyone. We can’t wait to show our guests what Columbus brings to the table.”

Columbus first hosted the Gay Softball World Series in 2010 and was a second-time host in 2015. The 2020 event will take place from Aug. 24-29, 2020.

San Francisco has hosted four series, including the first in 1977. Dallas and Milwaukee have hosted three series each.

Greater Columbus Sports Commission officials project the 2020 series will bring $7 million in direct spending by visitors to Central Ohio. More than 90 teams are playing this week in Tampa. They come from 30 cities in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

In Columbus’ past turns as host of the Gay Softball World Series, more than 75 businesses signed on as sponsors and more than 500 people volunteered at games and events. More than 12,500 people attended a closing block party in the Short North.

In the end, more than a dozen nonprofits benefited from charitable donations and food and beverages sales.

“Our partnerships helped bring the GSWS back to Columbus and tell the LGBTQ and sporting world what kind of experience Columbus can offer to anyone,” said Dallas Aldridge, executive director of GSWS Columbus, the group that will organize the 2020 series.

 

Bob Vitale
Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, he has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Contact: BobVitale@prizmnews.com