Kiwi and international skateboarding, scooter and BMX athletes will soon be rolling into the Bay to compete in the X AIR Games from the 29-30th of July at Trustpower Arena.
The event, which is supported by funding from Tourism Bay of Plenty and TECT, is expected to attract thousands of visitors.
X AIR started in Hamilton in 2000 and grew to be Australasia’s largest action sports festival incorporating skate, BMX, FMX, inline, breakdancing and music by 2007. It quickly outgrew its Hamilton venue and moved to the Wellington waterfront, where it entertained 70,000 people over the course of a weekend. As its popularity increased, the festival attracted professional athletes from around the world, including big names like Tony Hawke and Dave Mirra.
Event organiser, Steven McHardy, says there has been growing demand for the return of X AIR.
“With no event like it for the past 15 years and the rise in popularity in skateboarding, BMX and scooter, it was time to bring them all together to showcase the world class talent we have in Aotearoa.”
“We are looking to create a path for youth to carve a career, and potentially their journey to the Olympics with each sport’s governing body.”
Like the X AIR festivals of the 2000s, the 2022 event will provide an action-packed weekend for all, says McHardy.
“We are catering for everyone from action sports enthusiasts, to families, to people who want to experience something new.
“We have BMX big air outside on a custom-built mega ramp type truck, trade stands, music (Blindspott will be taking the stage on the Saturday night), and of course the grand final of the D1NZ National Drifting Championship. People can expect on-the-edge-of-your-seat action!”
McHardy says ticket sales and athlete entries have shown the festival has national appeal, attracting people from outside the region.
“People are coming from all over New Zealand, and we also have a bunch coming over from Australia. We are expecting anywhere from 12-15,000 people over the weekend, including those attending D1NZ.”
The event will be held in Mount Maunganui for the foreseeable future.
“We want to put the Bay of Plenty on the map as the action sports capital of Aotearoa and support young athletes to make a career out of their chosen sport”, says McHardy.
“Over time we want to grow the event with more international athletes coming to Aotearoa to compete.”
X AIR is one of 15 Coastal Bay of Plenty events that are being supported over the next two years by the Regional Events Fund (REF).
The Government introduced the REF to assist the tourism sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, while New Zealand's border remains closed to international visitors.
The aim of the contestable $500,000 REF allocation, which was overseen by Tourism Bay of Plenty, is to invest in events that will drive significant regional visitor numbers.
The fund was boosted by a further $200,000 allocated from the region's community-based trust TECT.
McHardy says the funding has been fundamental to the revival of X Air.
“We couldn't have done this without the funding. Events like this cost a huge amount to put on and we are grateful we got given the chance.”
TECT Trustee Pete Blackwell says X AIR will bring many benefits to the region.
“X AIR will provide a unique new sporting and entertainment experience that will bring visitors to the Bay and boost our local economy. It spotlights our region for its growing international sporting and recreational profile.
“Skateboarding is becoming an increasingly popular sport – one that is now recognised in the Olympic Games. Not only does it keep people fit and active, but it tends to be social in nature, bringing people together and fostering connection.
“TECT is pleased to support an event that offers a point of difference and many positive outcomes for our region.”
To learn more about X AIR, visit https://www.xairnz.info/