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Feature Article - June 2014

2014 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


With the economy continuing to work its way toward recovery, how are recreation, sports and fitness facilities faring? Generally speaking, this year sees a continuing growth—if slight—in the optimism of respondents to our State of the Industry Survey. While operating budgets and revenues are still recovering, a growing number of respondents are planning for construction and staffing up. And while the economy remains a top concern, many are turning their sights to other issues, from ensuring access to fitness options to operating top-notch programs at top-quality facilities.

Welcome to your eighth annual State of the Industry Report, in which we delve into the inner workings of the managed recreation, sports and fitness industry to gain a deeper understanding of the trends that are affecting facility construction, management, programming, staffing and more. The information we've gathered into these 84 pages is based on an in-depth survey of more than 2,200 recreation, sports and fitness professionals. We thank everyone who generously gave their time to answer more than 50 questions about how their own facilities are doing now, and how they expect things to change over the next few years. Without your help, we wouldn't be able to put this expansive report together.

As we do at the beginning of every summer, in this issue, we report the responses to our survey to you, summarizing the state of the industry, beginning with the results from the entire survey population. We further break the results down in the following sections. You can find regional information here, followed by information from facilities that include aquatics, parks and recreation facilities, colleges and universities, schools and school districts, health clubs, and YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs. You'll find additional information in our special, web-exclusive reports, which can be found here.

Who Are You?

Reflecting the readership of Recreation Management magazine, the majority of respondents represent decision-makers at their organizations. More than one-third (34.4 percent) of respondents indicated that they have the title of director. Another 20 percent said they are in administration management, with titles including administrator, manager or superintendent. Some 14.7 percent represent operations facility management, with titles including operations manager, facility manager, building manager or supervisor. More than one in 10 respondents (11.1 percent) are in program and activity administration, with titles such as activity or program director, manager, coordinator, specialist, coach or instructor. Slightly fewer (9.5 percent) indicated that they hold the job title of chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner for their organization. Just 1 percent of respondents are in service roles, including planners, designers, architects and consultants. Finally, 9.3 percent represent "other" roles, including many who likely serve as faculty at colleges and universities.

Respondents also have plenty of experience in the industry on which to base their answers. On average, respondents have 22 years of industry experience, with an average of 12 years in their current position.

The percentage of respondents representing various regions of the country changes very little year over year, and 2014 is no exception.

The largest number of respondents were from the Midwest, with 31.5 percent of respondents indicating they were from 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, at 20.1 percent, is from the West, representing the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The South Atlantic states are home to 17 percent of the survey respondents. This includes the states of Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Representation from the Northeast has been falling in recent years, and fell further in 2014 to 15.4 percent of respondents (from 16.5 percent in 2013 and 17.8 percent in 2012). This includes the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The South Central region again makes up the smallest portion of U.S.-based respondents, with 15.1 percent calling the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas home.

Finally, just 0.9 percent of respondents reported that they were from outside of the United States.

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