Feature Article - June 2015
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2015 State of the Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


With so many older facilities still in operation, it comes as no surprising that the percentage of respondents who report that they have plans for new facilities, additions and renovations continues to increase after seeing a slight dip in the wake of the recession. Nearly two-thirds (65.8 percent) of respondents reported that they have such plans over the next three years, compared with 60.4 percent who reported having construction plans in 2012. (See Figure 23.)

There was a slight dip in the number of respondents who are planning new construction, from 26.7 percent in 2014 to 25.7 percent this year. But, the percentage of respondents who are planning additions rose from 28.6 percent to 29.8 percent, and the number planning renovations increased from 45.9 percent to 46.9 percent.

Respondents from urban communities are the most likely to report having construction plans, with 67.1 percent of these respondents indicating they will be building new facilities or making additions or renovations within the next three years. They were followed by suburban communities, 66.7 percent of whom have such plans. Rural respondents were the least likely to have construction plans, though a majority (64 percent) indicated they are planning construction.

Urban respondents are most likely to be planning new construction, with 28.7 percent of them indicating they have such plans. This compares with 23.5 percent of rural respondents who plan new construction. Suburban respondents are most likely to be planning additions and renovations, with 31.4 percent indicating they'll be making additions and 47.4 percent reporting they'll be making renovations to their facilities.

Just as they report having the oldest facilities, camp respondents are the most likely to report that they have construction plans of any kind over the next several years. Some 80.5 percent of camp respondents have construction plans of one kind or another. They are the most likely respondents to be planning to build new (38.5 percent), make additions (36.2 percent) or renovations (66.7 percent).

Parks follow camps as the most likely to be planning construction, with 72.6 percent of these respondents indicating they have such plans. YMCAs were also highly likely to be planning construction, with 70.6 percent of these respondents indicating they have such plans. Community centers and health clubs are the least likely to have plans for construction. Some 14.6 percent of community centers and 14.9 percent of health clubs have construction plans.

After camps, park respondents are the most likely to be planning new construction, with nearly a third (32.4 percent) indicating they have such plans. They are followed by college respondents, 24.8 percent of whom have plans for new construction. YMCAs and health clubs follow camps as the most likely to be planning additions at their existing facilities. Some 31.6 percent of YMCA respondents and 31.1 percent of health club respondents are planning additions. Parks and YMCAs follow camps as the most likely to be planning renovations, with 53.1 percent of park respondents and 49.3 percent of YMCA respondents reporting that they have plans for renovations at their existing facilities.

On average, respondents are planning to spend $4,024,000 on their construction plans, down 10.5 percent from 2014's average construction cost of $4,495,000. (See Figure 24.) Since 2011, the average budget for construction plans has risen 2.1 percent, from $3,942,000.


Looking at the average amount planned for construction spending according to community size, respondents from urban communities are planning to spend the most, with an average budget of $5,194,000. Respondents from suburban communities are planning to spend $4,293,000 on their construction, and those from rural areas are planning to spend an average of $2,748,000.

Respondents from camps showed a dramatic increase in planned spending for construction from 2014 to 2015, with an increase of 137.7 percent. This is tempered by the fact that just a handful (5.9 percent) of these respondents are planning to spend $10 million or more. A majority of camp respondents, 63 percent, are planning to spend $500,000 or less on their new construction.

Increases in construction spending from 2014 to 2015 were also seen among respondents from YMCAs, with a 9.9 percent increase from an average budget of $3,840,000 in 2014 to an average of $4,221,000 in 2015; as well as parks, with a 2.2 increase. (See Figure 24.)

The biggest decrease in construction spending year-over-year was seen among community center respondents, with a 16.3 percent drop from an average of $3,006,000 in 2014 to $2,516,000 in 2015. Decreases were also reported by college and university respondents (down 15.8 percent), schools and school districts (down 11.5 percent) and health clubs (down just 0.4 percent).

As usual, colleges and universities report the highest budgets for construction of all respondents, with an average of $7,775,000-93.2 percent higher than the average for all respondents. They were followed by school respondents, whose average construction budget in 2015 is 38.9 percent higher than the average for all respondents. Health clubs and camps have the lowest construction budgets-60.1 percent and 52.7 percent below the across-the-board average, respectively.