Feature Article - June 2015
Find a printable version here

2015 State of the Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


While there was a slight jump in the percentage of respondents from suburban communities in 2015 compared with 2014, overall, the number of respondents from different types of communities continues to hold steady over time. The largest number of respondents were from suburban communities (42.3 percent, compared with 38.9 percent in 2014). They were followed by those from rural communities at 33.8 percent. Just under a quarter (23.9 percent) of respondents indicated they were from urban communities. (See Figure 2.)

There also was little change in the types of organizations represented by survey respondents. Nearly two-thirds (65.1 percent) of respondents reported that they worked for public organizations, such as parks and recreation departments, and public schools and universities. They were followed by those who work for private nonprofit organizations. Some 21.8 percent indicated they work for a private nonprofit, such as a YMCA. Finally, about 12.2 percent indicated they work for private, for-profit organizations, such as health clubs or resorts. (See Figure 3.)

As in past surveys, the largest percentage of respondents reported in from parks and recreation departments, park districts and similar organizations. Some 38.7 percent of respondents indicated that they worked for parks and recreation organizations. They were followed by respondents from colleges and universities (13.8 percent); schools and school districts (9.3 percent); campgrounds, RV parks, and private/youth camps (7.5 percent); community or private recreation or sports centers (7.3 percent); and YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys and Girls Clubs (5.8 percent). Smaller numbers of respondents reported in from other facility types, including: golf/country clubs (3.3 percent); sports, health and fitness clubs (3.2 percent); resorts and resort hotels (2 percent); and waterparks, theme parks and amusement parks (1.3 percent). Less than one in 100 respondents were from medical fitness and wellness facilities (0.9 percent); military installations (0.8 percent); ice rinks (0.6 percent); racquet/tennis clubs (0.5 percent); stadiums, arenas and tracks (0.4 percent); and corporate recreation and sports centers (0.3 percent). Some 4.2 percent of respondents indicated that they represent "other" types of facilities, which include such organizations as homeowners associations, churches and more. (See Figure 4.)

As might be expected, some types of facilities tend to be found more in some types of communities than others. For example, respondents from camps and campgrounds are far more likely to report from rural communities. Some 68.4 percent of camp respondents indicated they were in rural communities. School respondents also were more likely to be from rural communities than from urban or suburban areas. Some 49.1 percent of school respondents said they were in rural communities. Respondents from health clubs were least likely to report from rural areas. Only 21.6 percent of health club respondents said they were located in rural communities.

College respondents were more likely to report from urban areas than from the suburbs or from rural communities. Some 40.4 percent of college respondents indicated they were in urban communities. Far fewer respondents from other facility types indicated that they were located in urban areas. After colleges, community and private recreation and sports centers were the most likely to report in from urban communities, with 25.7 percent of these respondents indicating they were located in urban areas. YMCAs were also more heavily represented by urban respondents than other facility types, with 24.3 percent of YMCA respondents reporting form urban communities.

Those who were most likely to be reporting from the suburbs, on the other hand, included golf and country clubs (63.6 percent are from suburban communities); sports and health clubs (60.8 percent); parks (47.6 percent); YMCAs (45.6 percent); and community or private sports and recreation centers (45 percent).

Obviously, certain facility types are much more likely to be public organizations, while others are much more likely to be private nonprofits or for-profit organizations.

Overwhelmingly, parks respondents indicated that they work for public organizations. Some 98 percent of parks respondents said they worked for public organizations. Another 1.6 percent said they worked for private nonprofits. Also likely to report from public organizations were schools and school districts. Some 89.8 percent of these respondents were from public organizations, while 7.9 percent worked for private nonprofits. Nearly three out of five (59.9 percent) of college respondents also said they worked for public organizations, with 32 percent indicating they were with private nonprofits.