Feature Article - June 2010
Find a printable version here


A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities

Budgets and Revenues

Last year, aquatic respondents reported that their operating expenditures for their aquatic facilities fell by 2.5 percent in 2008 to $374,000. This year's respondents reported an increase of 15.5 percent over that number in 2009, to $432,000. (See Figure 38.) This was 8 percent higher than the number projected by last year's respondents for the year 2009.

Respondents are expecting a slight dip of 0.2 percent in 2010, followed by a gain of 5.8 percent in 2011, to an average annual operating expenditure of $456,000.

The biggest hit in 2010 is expected among parks and recreation respondents. They are expecting a 3.5 percent drop in their aquatic operating budgets. That said, they were among the highest spenders on aquatics, with an average annual budget of $1,010,000 in 2009 and $975,000 in 2010. This was surpassed only by respondents from YMCAs. Interestingly, they also were projecting a slight dip in operating expenditures in 2010—with a drop of 0.2 percent from an average budget of $1,092,000 in 2009 to an average of $1,090,000 in 2010.

All other facility types were actually projecting increasing operating budgets in 2010. Among camp facilities and community centers, the increase was the steepest. Camp respondents were projecting a 25 percent jump from an average annual operating expenditure of $96,000 in 2009 to $120,000 in 2010; and community centers were expecting an increase of 20.3 percent from $567,000 to $682,000 in the same time period.

Around half of respondents from aquatic facilities are expecting their revenues to hold steady from 2008 through 2011. In 2009, 49.7 percent of aquatics respondents said their revenues were the same as for 2008. At the same time, 29.3 percent saw an increase, and 21.1 percent saw a decrease. In 2010, 53.6 percent are expecting revenues to remain the same, with 28.9 percent expecting an increase and 17.5 percent projecting a decrease. And in 2011, 56.8 percent are anticipating their revenues to hold steady, with 30.6 percent expecting an increase and 12.6 percent reporting they are projecting a drop.

Respondents from parks and recreation agencies were the most likely to be expecting their revenues to fall in 2010 and 2011. In those years, 22.1 percent and 16.5 percent, respectively, were anticipating decreasing revenues for aquatics.

On the other hand, respondents from community centers were the most likely to be expecting an increase in revenues in 2010, with 40.2 percent projecting an increase this year. In 2011, YMCAs are more likely to be expecting increasing revenues, with 44.6 percent projecting a jump.

Water Play

Fun features like splash play elements, slides and more are still highly popular among aquatic facilities. Both water play structures and waterslides appear among the top five amenities aquatic facilities were planning to add in this year's report. And, in the top 10, you'll also find zero-depth entry and lazy rivers among the features respondents were planning to add.

As many experts have reported to Recreation Management in the past several years, you can only swim a lap so many times before you're bored with the pool. Water play features add a level of fun and excitement, whether it's a play structure over a zero-depth pool, a slide that allows riders to race one another to a splashy finish line or a surf simulator that attracts teens to try their skills.