Three cities – Cleveland, Boston and Washington D.C. – submitted final bids to play host city for the international 2014 Gay Games.

Fourteen cities had originally expressed interest in hosting the event. Miami showed strong interest, but failed to submit a detailed bid by the March 15 deadline.

Cleveland organizers paired up with the International Gay Rodeo Association and petitioned the Federation of Gay Games to include the sport should it win. If included, it would mark a first for the games.

Cleveland's bid also stirred controversy when city leaders attempted to support the pitch by passing a domestic partner registry for gay and lesbian couples. The registry afforded no benefits other than symbolic. Lawmakers said the registry would help secure the Gay Games 2014 by demonstrating the city's commitment to GLBT rights. But a group of ministers opposed to the registry called it an end-run around the state's ban on gay marriage and has vowed to win its repeal by putting it up for a vote.

At first glance, Boston would appear to have an edge in the competition. It's a sports town where the question of gays getting hitched has been settled (its legal) and is home to a vibrant and well organized GLBT community.

But Gay Games officials say their decision – likely to be made in September, 2010 – is not only about selecting the gay friendliest city.

“If we only choose the gayest cities in the United States, we've made a mistake,” Kelly Stevens, a board member in charge of communications for the Federation of Gay Games, told Spangle Magazine.

And Federation of Gay Games spokesman Kevin Boyer recently said he was “very impressed” with Cleveland's efforts.

The Gay Games is the brainchild of Dr. Tom Waddell, a college football player who went on to place sixth in the 1986 Summer Olympic's decathlon competition. The international sporting event originally called the Gay Olympics was first held in San Francisco during the Summer of 1982.

Cologne, Germany has been selected to host the next event in 2010, where an estimated 15,000 athletes are expected to participate in 28 sporting contests.

The City of Chicago, which last hosted the event in 2006, estimates 140,000 spectators attended the event with an overall economic impact of $50-to-$80 million. But lower than expected participation and attendance is blamed on a last minute change of venue. The Federation of Gay Games moved the event to Chicago after it failed to reach agreement on several key issues with Montreal, Canada organizers.

Gay Games officials will begin visiting the three final cities in the summer.