Motels full as students descend for AIMS Games

By Amy McGillivray

Motels around Tauranga will be at capacity next week as more than 7200 people descend on the city for the start of the AIMS Games.

The ninth annual games kick off with the opening ceremony at TECT Arena on Sunday.

More than 6000 kids from 166 schools are competing in New Zealand's largest intermediate-aged school tournament. About 1200 coaches and parents will be in town to support their teams.

The Atrium Apartments are at capacity for the duration of the games, manager Ray Anderson said.

"There's a swag of people coming," he said.

The teams from Knox School and Newhaven College in Melbourne have booked out 30 of the their apartments.

They are the first overseas schools to ever take part in the event.

Greerton Lodge Motel will be home to the Kawerau Intermediate School delegation.

"They've booked out the whole motel," owner Ian Dale said. "I think most motels around the district have different groups."

As usual Bell Lodge is mostly booked out and Durham Motor Inn has no vacancies next week with a number of families in town for the games among the guests, manager Peter Menzies said.

Hospitality New Zealand regional manager Alan Sciascia said it was an important event for the region's hospitality industry.

"It does bring a number of people in so that's always of benefit to businesses," he said.

Tournament director Vicki Semple is looking forward to the event, which is the biggest yet.

There are 45 more schools taking part this year than last, she said.

TECT Arena was opened just in time to host the opening ceremony and basketball competition for last year's tournament and will be well used again.

"I don't know how we managed without it," Ms Semple said.

The opening ceremony, basketball and indoor bowls will this year be held in the arena.

About 4000 people will be seated in the main arena for the opening with another 3000 spots available in an overflow room.

Olympic Gold medallist and former Tauranga man Mahe Drysdale and Silver medallist Sarah Walker will open the tournament.

Drysdale and Walker attended Bay of Plenty intermediate schools and have a strong commitment to the region and continue to support athletes and events in the area, she said.

At the opening ceremony, students from throughout the region will provide entertainment and showcase their talents.

The night will kick off at 6pm with a welcoming performance from the Otumoetai Intermediate Kapa Haka group.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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