Feature Article - June 2011
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State of the Industry 2011

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

By Emily Tipping

Top Issues

As it generally is, the state of the economy—and the impact that it has on budgets—is the top issue of concern among survey respondents. But there are other issues that tend to be top concerns over time, and these have not shifted in the past year.

The top issue of concern now, other than the economy, is equipment and facility maintenance. It also was chosen as the top concern over the next several years. More than half (54.9 percent) of respondents listed it as a top current concern, and 42.7 percent said it will remain a concern for the next three years. (See Figure 27.)

Upon reviewing respondents' comments expanding on the issues that are among their top concerns, the divisions between one topic of concern and another are murky. That is, almost everything ties back to the economy and the impact the downturn has had on budgets. This ultimately affects a facility's ability to properly maintain its equipment, to keep quality staff on board, to deliver programs to members and so on.

When it comes to equipment and facility maintenance, for example, several readers pointed out that maintenance cannot be deferred indefinitely. You can't stop buildings and equipment from aging. There's no way to avoid it, but providing up front for maintenance, instead of waiting for failure, is key. Unfortunately, many budgets have been cut deeply enough to make maintenance impossible.

As one reader pointed out, "Historically funding entities do not adequately fund the maintenance/operation side. The down economy will only increase pressure on already tight operating budgets."