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Feature Article - June 2013

2013 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


In the course of the seven years that Recreation Management has been compiling this in-depth look at the State of the Industry, there has been a great deal of change. Many ups and downs have been recorded. Many projections have been adjusted in light of economic, legislative and other realities. For facilities of all kinds, the economic downturn had an impact, with some, like schools and school districts, feeling the crunch more than others. In 2012, we reported a great deal of stabilization in the marketplace, and witnessed the hints of a turnaround. If anything, this year's report further emphasizes this situation, with an adjustment to the "new normal" of our current economic situation.

Welcome to your seventh annual State of the Industry Report, where we take a look behind the scenes of the managed recreation, sports and fitness industry to determine which trends are having the greatest impact on facility management, programming, construction and more. The information compiled within these pages is based on an in-depth survey of more than 2,100 professionals working in the recreation, sports and fitness market. We thank these professionals who graciously took their time to answer more than 50 questions about the state of their own facilities now and over the next few years, as well as their careers, issues of concern and much more.

Here, we report the responses to you, summarizing the current state of the industry, beginning with the overall results. Market-specific results can be found in following sections, where we break the data down by region represented (see page 34), then look at specific information for respondents from aquatic facilities (see page 44), parks and recreation facilities (see page 56), colleges and universities (see page 64), schools and school districts (see page 70), health clubs (see page 74), and YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs, and Boys and Girls Clubs (see page 78). Further information from camp facilities and community or private recreation and sports centers can be found in our special, web-exclusive reports, online at www.recmanagement.com.

Who Are You?

As our Industry Report survey is sent to Recreation Management readers, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the vast majority of respondents represent decision-makers at their organizations. More than one-third (35.1 percent) of respondents hold the title of director. Another 19.5 percent are in administration management, with such titles as administrator, manager or superintendent. Some 17.8 percent represent operations facility management, including operations managers, facility managers, building managers and supervisors. Around one in 10 respondents (10.1 percent) were in program and activity administration, with titles such as activity or program director, manager, coordinator, specialist, coach or instructor. Slightly fewer (8.7 percent) were the chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner for their organization. Around 0.6 percent were in services, including planners, designers, architects and consultants. Finally, 8.2 percent were in "other" job roles that were not specified in the report. The largest number of these "other" respondents came from colleges and universities, or schools and school districts, suggesting they may be faculty.

Once again, there was very little change from last year's report in the percentage of respondents representing various regions of the country. Slightly fewer respondents this year were from the Northeast and South Atlantic regions, while slightly more were from the Midwest.

With 29.2 percent of the respondents, the Midwest had the most representation in the survey response. This includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. (See Figure 1.)

The next largest group hails from the West, with slightly more than one-fifth (20.3 percent) of respondents calling the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming their home.

The South Atlantic states, with 19.6 percent of responses, were the next largest group. This includes the states of Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

The Northeast dropped from 17.8 percent of respondents last year to 16.5 percent this year. This region includes the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Some 13.6 percent of respondents came from the South Central region, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Finally, international respondents make up a small 0.7 percent of the response to the survey.

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