Feature Article - June 2013
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2013 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


This is reflected in the average numbers of facilities managed by various facility types. (See Figure 6.) Parks respondents manage the largest number of facilities on average, at 10.5. They are followed by schools and school districts (8.1). Camps respondents reported that they manage just 2.9 facilities on average. And YMCAs manage just three facilities on average.

There was a slight decrease in the percentage of respondents who said they partner with other types of organizations outside of their own in 2013 vs. 2012. Last year, 13.9 percent of respondents said they did not partner with any other organizations. In 2013, that number rose to 14.8 percent. That said, the majority of respondents do form partnerships, which can help spread operating costs, increase programming and marketing opportunities and more. (See Figure 7.)

The most common partnerships were found between respondents and local schools and local government. More than half of respondents said they partner with local schools (56.1 percent ) and local government (50.8 percent, an increase from 47.2 percent in 2012). Nonprofit organizations were partners for 40.9 percent of respondents, and around one-third (33.4 percent) partnered with colleges and universities.

Respondents from urban communities were more likely than those from the suburbs and rural communities to form partnerships with others. Some 89.7 percent of urban respondents said they partnered with other organizations, while 84.4 percent of rural respondents and 82.9 percent of suburban respondents formed such partnerships.

In almost every case, urban respondents were more likely to partner with a specific entity. They were far more likely than others to partner with nonprofits (45.4 percent of urban respondents); colleges and universities (44.1 percent); YMCAs (27.4 percent); and the military (18 percent). The only cases where urban respondents were not the most likely to partner with an entity were for local government (suburban at 54.8 percent); and corporate/local business (suburban at 33.8 percent).

Public organizations were vastly more likely to partner with other organizations than private for-profit organizations. Private nonprofits fall in the middle Some 91.9 percent of public organizations reported that they form such partnerships, compared with 78.3 percent of private nonprofits and 56.7 percent of private for-profit organizations.

The most common partners for public organizations included local schools (62.3 percent of public organizations partnered with schools), local governments (60.2 percent) and nonprofits (42.5 percent). For private for-profit organizations, schools were also the most likely partner, with 32.4 percent forming such partnerships. They were followed by corporate or local businesses (30 percent) and colleges and universities (21.4 percent). Among private nonprofit organizations, schools were the most common partner (48.5 percent), followed by other nonprofits (46.3 percent) and colleges and universities (37.4 percent).

YMCAs were the most likely to form partnerships with outside organizations, with some 96.6 percent reporting they had done so. They were followed by parks respondents (96.2 percent) and schools and school districts (86.4 percent). (See Figure 8.)

YMCAs were not only the most likely to form partnerships, but were the most likely to form partnerships with most entities, including local schools, nonprofits, corporate or local businesses, YMCAs, healthcare and medical facilities and the military. Schools and school districts were more likely than any other facility type to form partnerships with state and local government. Colleges and universities were more likely than others to partner with other colleges and universities. Parks were more likely to partner with local government. And, interestingly, health clubs were more likely than other facility types to partner with other health clubs.

The greatest number of respondents report that the primary audience for their facilities is all ages. Some 40.8 percent of respondents indicated that their facilities were meant for an all-ages audience. They were followed by facilities meant for adults (18 percent of respondents), children ages 4 to 12 (15.7 percent) and college students (13.1 percent).

There was some variance in the primary audience for facilities based on the type of organization represented. Public organizations were more likely than private for-profit and nonprofit organizations to be aimed at all ages (43.2 percent vs. 40.6 percent and 32.7 percent, respectively), as well as children ages 4 to 12 (16.9 percent) and teens (11.5 percent). Private for-profit organizations were far more likely than others to be aimed at adults (34.9 percent of private for-profit vs. 17.4 percent of private nonprofit and 15.5 percent of public). And private nonprofit organizations were around twice as likely to be targeted for college students (22.1 percent) than public organizations (11.5 percent).