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Feature Article - June 2012

2012 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


In the six years that Recreation Management has been putting together this detailed look at the State of the Industry, we've seen drastic economic changes, and the fallout that has drifted across facilities of all kinds, from private health clubs to nonprofit YMCAs, from municipal park agencies to public and private universities and beyond. Last year's report seemed to show more stabilization and hinted at the beginning of a turnaround, particularly in terms of budgets, revenues and membership. This year largely continues that trend.

Welcome to your annual State of the Industry Report, where we peek inside the industry to find out the larger trends driving facility management, programming and more at recreation, sports and fitness facilities across the country. To bring you this information, we surveyed more than 2,000 professionals working in the managed recreation, sports and fitness market. These professionals graciously took the time to answer more than 50 questions about their facilities now and over the next few years, as well as their own careers, thoughts and concerns and much more. In these pages, we report their responses to you, summarizing the current state of the industry, and beginning with the overall results. Market-specific results can be found in the following sections.


Who Are You?

As in past years, respondents represent decision-makers in their organizations. More than one-third—36.1 percent—have the job title, Director. The second largest number, 20.6 percent, represent Administration Management, including administrators, managers and superintendents. Some 16.7 percent are in operations facility management, including operations managers, facility managers, building managers and supervisors; and 10.1 percent are program or activity administrators, including activity or program directors, managers, coordinators, specialists, coaches and instructors. Just 7.6 percent gave their job title as chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner. Another 0.6 percent are in services, such as planners, designers, architects or consultants; and 8.3 percent claimed "other" job titles.

There was very little difference between last year's results and this year's in terms of regional representation. The largest group (though this number has fallen slightly, from 29.1 percent in 2011) was from the Midwest. More than one-quarter (28.7 percent) of respondents hailed from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. (See Figure 1.)

The second largest percentage also came from a region that saw a drop in participation this year, from 21.7 percent in 2011. Some 20.6 percent of respondents to the 2012 survey were from the West, compared with 21.7 percent in 2011. This includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

These regions were again followed by the South Atlantic, which saw a slight increase from 18.4 percent of respondents in 2011 to 18.8 percent in 2012. This region includes the states of Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Also showing a slight increase, the Northeast is home to 17.8 percent of this year's respondents (compared with 17.2 percent in 2011). It includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The South Central region claims 13.6 percent of 2012 respondents (compared with 13.3 percent in 2011). This includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Finally, showing virtually no change, just 0.5 percent of respondents said they were not from the United States.

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