Feature Article - June 2011
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Regional Information

A Look at Regional Trends

By Emily Tipping


Ice rinks provide another good example, being more heavily represented in areas where winters are more pronounced. In the Northeast, 17.6 percent of respondents have ice rinks, and 15.4 percent of Midwestern respondents have ice rinks. This compares with 8.2 percent in the West and just 2.2 percent in the South Atlantic and 0.8 percent in the South Central region. The same holds true for winter recreation areas for sports like skiing and snowboarding. In the Northeast, 12.1 percent include these features, and 10.1 percent include them in the Midwest. In the West, the number falls to 6.5 percent. In the South, just 0.8 percent of respondents have winter recreation facilities of some kind.

In some cases, the prevalence of specific types of features is highest in the region where the trend of adding those types of amenities first began to take hold. Here, skateparks, dog parks and disc gold serve as good examples.

Skateparks are far more common in the West than anywhere else. More than a quarter (27.3 percent) of Western respondents indicated that their facilities include skateparks. They are followed by the Midwest, with 18.2 percent. Respondents in the South Central states were least likely to include skateparks. Just 9.9 percent of these respondents have them.

Dog parks also are more common in the West, where 15.9 percent of respondents have them. They are followed by the South Atlantic states, where 15.4 percent of respondents have dog parks. In the South Central states, by comparison, just 7.6 percent of respondents reported that they include dog parks.

Disc golf, on the other hand, was most popular among respondents in the Midwest, where nearly a fifth (19.1 percent) of respondents said they had disc golf courses. They were followed by the South Central region and the West, where 16.3 percent of respondents had disc golf courses.

Interestingly, Midwestern respondents were also far more likely than others to report that their facilities include an indoor running track. More than a quarter (26.5 percent) of Midwestern respondents had one. They were followed by those in the South Central region, where 18.3 percent said they have indoor tracks.

Synthetic turf was most popular in the Northeast, perhaps due to the more heavily concentrated population of that region. Some 17.4 percent of respondents in the Northeast have synthetic turf. They were followed by the West (12.8 percent), Midwest (12.7 percent) and South Atlantic (12.1 percent). Just 7.2 percent of South Central respondents had synthetic turf.

Respondents from the Northeast were the most likely to indicate that they had plans to add additional amenities to their facilities over the next three years. Nearly half (47.1 percent) reported that they had such plans. The top five features they were planning to add included: playgrounds, splash play areas, synthetic turf fields, trails, and fitness centers. They were the most likely to be planning to add splash play areas, playgrounds, fitness centers and synthetic turf fields.

Some 41.7 percent of respondents in the West reported that they have plans to add features to their facilities. Their top five planned features include park structures such as shelters and restrooms, trails, splash play areas, playgrounds and concessions. These respondents were more likely than those in other regions to be planning to add trails, park structures and climbing walls.

Respondents in the South Atlantic region were most likely to be planning climbing walls. Around 41.2 percent of these respondents had plans to add features of any kind to their facility over the next three years. Their five most common planned additions include: splash play areas, bleachers and seating, playgrounds, climbing walls, and trails.

Some 40.3 percent of respondents in the South Central region had plans to add features to their facilities in the next three years. Their top five planned additions include: splash play areas, park structures such as shelters and restrooms, playgrounds, fitness centers and trails.

Respondents from the Midwest were the least likely to report that they were planning to add features to their facilities over the next three years, though four out of 10 (40 percent) respondents indicated that they do have such plans. Their top five planned additions include playgrounds, disc golf courses, trails, splash play areas and park structures. Respondents from this region were more likely than those from other regions to report that they had plans to add a disc golf course.