Rotorua will become the first non-university city to stage the University Games next year, following a decision announced by University Sport New Zealand (USNZ) last week.
The USNZ board considered bids from Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) and from a consortia in Rotorua led by the District Council.
USNZ Executive Director Jim Ellis says “the Board is excited at the prospect of an outstanding Games in Rotorua which it believes will be a spectacular and exciting venue.”
“Rotorua has excellent sports facilities in a well-clustered, small geographical distance from each other. It is a spectacular setting with plentiful (and relatively cheap) accommodation.
“The new Rotorua Events Centre which will be the hub of the Games is the best facility of its type in the country. The Games will make major impact in a relatively small city and there is a very strong consortium who will now assist UNSZ in delivering the Games.”
The decision to award the April 2008 Games to a city without any direct university affiliation is met with disappointment from AUSA Sports Development Manager Cerys Mumford.
Mumford says AUSA is not happy with the decision as it takes the Uni Games out of the hands of students’ associations.
VUWSA President Geoff Hayward has conflicting views over the decision of letting a non-university city host the Games. He says Rotorua handed in a good bid, and underlines the high-quality of the venue and the support from the Rotorua District Council.
However, he agrees with AUSA that the lack of involvement from students’ associations undermines the spirit of the Uni Games.
Ellis disagrees, saying “the games are delivered for the benefit of our member students’ associations. All of the qualitative improvements over the last few years have been to enhance the enjoyment and experience of the Games by students.
“The USNZ Board believes that in 2008 the enjoyment that students will get from the games will be higher than ever in Rotorua.”
USNZ has since 2004 proclaimed the Games are hosted by ‘cities’ and not by universities and students’ associations, in order to acknowledge the different capacities and resources of member associations.
Hayward says the hosting by a non-university city will eliminate what he calls “the dreaded hometown advantage”, and that Team Vic will benefit from having a competition at a neutral site.
The last time a travelling side won the Games was in 2002, when Auckland University won at Waikato.