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


There was very little change in the numbers of respondents reporting in from different types of communities. Suburban respondents again represent the largest number, with 40.2 percent of the response coming from suburban communities. (See Figure 2.) A little more than one-third (33.8 percent) of respondents were from rural communities. And just over a quarter (26 percent) were from urban communities.

There also was virtually no change in the percentage of respondents representing different types of organizations. As usual, more than two-thirds of respondents (67.4 percent) reported from public organizations, such as parks and recreation departments, or public schools and universities. A little more than a fifth (21.4 percent) were from private nonprofit organizations, such as YMCAs. Finally, 10.1 percent worked for private, for-profit organizations, such as health clubs. (See Figure 3.)

Respondents from urban communities were more likely than those from the suburbs or rural areas to represent public organizations. While two-thirds of suburban (66 percent) and rural (66.2 percent) respondents represented public organizations, 71 percent of urban respondents were from these types of organizations. On the other hand, 23.2 percent of rural respondents represented private nonprofit organizations, compared with 21.1 percent of suburban respondents and 19.3 percent of urban respondents. And 11.1 percent of suburban respondents represented private for-profit organizations, compared with 10.1 percent of rural respondents and 8.7 percent of urban respondents.

When it comes to the types of facilities respondents represent, the largest groups have been fairly consistent over the years. Once again, the largest group (37.3 percent) represents parks and recreation departments, park districts and similar entities. Another 14.8 percent were from colleges and universities. Some 11.4 percent were from schools and school districts. Less than one in 10 were from community or private recreation and sports centers (7.6 percent); campgrounds, RV parks, or private camps and youth camps (6.1 percent); YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys and Girls Clubs (5.6 percent); sports, health or fitness clubs (3 percent); golf or country clubs (2.6 percent); military installations (1.7 percent); resorts and resort hotels (1.4 percent); waterparks, theme parks and amusement parks (1.4 percent); medical fitness and wellness facilities (1.3 percent); and ice rinks (1 percent). Less than one out of 100 respondents were from racquet and tennis clubs (0.7 percent); stadiums, arenas and tracks (0.3 percent); and corporate recreation and sports centers (0.2 percent). Some 3.7 percent of respondents represented "other" facility types, which include homeowners associations, churches and more. (See Figure 4.)

When facility types are compared with the communities from which respondents reported, a picture emerges of the types of facilities and communities that are most likely to coincide. Urban respondents were more likely than respondents across the board to be from park facilities (40.5 percent of urban respondents), or colleges and universities (21.8 percent of urban respondents). Suburban respondents were more likely than other respondents to be from health clubs (4.2 percent of suburban respondents), YMCAs (6.7 percent) or community sports and recreation centers (6.1 percent). And respondents from rural communities were more likely than the across-the-board average to report in from schools and school districts (17.1 percent) and camps (13.6 percent).

When you look at the types of organizations represented by various facility types, yet another picture emerges. As might be expected, the vast majority of respondents from parks (97.9 percent) and from schools and school districts (92.9 percent) were from public organizations. On the other hand, 92.4 percent of YMCA respondents reported they worked for private nonprofit organizations (some 5.9 percent reported they worked for public organizations), and more than two-thirds of health club respondents (67.7 percent) were private for-profit organizations.

Colleges and universities present a more mixed picture, with 61.8 percent representing public institutions, and 37.3 percent representing private schools. Camps and community centers also saw more mixed representation. Among camp respondents, some 55 percent were from private nonprofit organizations, while 23.3 percent were private for-profit organizations. More than a fifth (20.9 percent) were public organizations. Nearly half (47.2 percent) of community centers were public organizations, while 30.2 percent were private nonprofits and 20.1 percent were private for-profit organizations.

On average, respondents manage 6.8 facilities, but a majority actually manage three or fewer. Some 59 percent reported that they manage between one and three facilities. Another 22.7 percent manage from four to nine facilities. And 18.4 percent manage 10 or more facilities. (See Figure 5.)

As might be expected, respondents from urban and suburban communities reported a higher average number of facilities managed. Urban respondents average 8.3 facilities on average, while suburban respondents manage 6.9 on average. Rural respondents, on the other hand, manage an average of 5.4 facilities.

Similarly, respondents from public organizations reported that they manage a larger number of facilities on average, at 8.4, compared with an average of 3.4 for private for-profit organizations and an average of 3.1 for private nonprofit organizations.

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