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


Respondents from YMCAs and similar organizations were more likely than others to indicate that they worked for a private nonprofit. Some 93.4 percent of YMCA respondents said they were with a private nonprofit organization. Others who were more likely to report from private nonprofits included camps and campgrounds (52.3 percent of whom were with private nonprofits).

Sports and health clubs were the most likely to report that they were with for-profit organizations. More than two-thirds (68.5 percent) of health club respondents said they were with for-profit organizations. Others who were more likely to report from for-profit organizations included golf clubs and country clubs and campgrounds and camps.

On average, survey respondents manage 6.6 facilities, which is consistent with the past two years when respondents managed an average of 6.4 facilities (2014) and 6.8 (2013). More than three out of five (60.1 percent) of respondents actually manage between one and three facilities. On the other hand, 17.3 percent manage 10 or more facilities. (See Figure 5.)

As one might expect, respondents from urban and suburban communities report that they average a larger number of facilities than their rural counterparts. Urban respondents manage an average of 8.7 facilities, followed by suburban respondents, who manage an average of 6.7. Rural respondents manage 5.2 facilities, on average. Nearly a quarter (23.6 percent) of urban respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, compared with 55.9 percent who manage three or fewer. For suburban respondents, some 17.8 percent manage 10 or more facilities, and 59.2 percent manage three or fewer. And among rural respondents, some 12 percent manage 10 or more facilities, with 64.1 percent managing three or fewer.

Parks respondents again reported managing the largest number of facilities, on average, at 9.9. (See Figure 6.) They were far more likely than other respondents to report that they managed more than 10 facilities. Some 28.9 percent of parks respondents indicate that they manage 10 or more facilities, while 40.3 percent indicated they manage three or fewer. Respondents from schools and school districts also reported managing a higher number of facilities than other respondents, with an average of 7.6

Respondents from health clubs manage the smallest average number of facilities, at 3.1. Nearly three-quarters (72.6 percent) of health club respondents said they manage only a single facility. Community and private recreation and sports center respondents also were less likely to manage a large number of facilities. On average, these respondents manage 3.5 facilities, and 63.5 percent said they manage just a single facility.

A majority of respondents (85.6 percent) report that they partner with outside organizations, a slight increase from last year. Many organizations find such partnerships useful as a means to extend programming opportunities, funding possibilities and even to share facilities to expand their reach.

The most common partnerships were formed between respondents and local schools. Some 59.1 percent of respondents said they had partnered with local schools, up from 56.9 percent in 2014. (See Figure 7.) Other common partners included local government (48.8 percent of respondents partnered with local government), and nonprofit organizations (45.8 percent). More than one-third of respondents also indicated that they had partnered with corporate or local businesses (34.1 percent) and colleges and universities (34.1 percent).

Respondents from urban communities were most likely to report that they formed partnerships with outside organizations. Some 87.7 percent of urban respondents said they had formed such partnerships, compared with 85.3 percent of suburban respondents and 82.7 percent of rural respondents.

Urban respondents were more likely than their suburban and rural counterparts to join up with every type of partner covered in the survey, except for local schools and private health clubs, who were more common partners for suburban respondents. More than half of urban respondents partnered with local schools (59.7 percent); local government (51.4 percent) or nonprofit organizations (51.4 percent). And more than one-third of urban respondents partnered with colleges and universities (46.6 percent); corporate or local businesses (38.6 percent); and state government (35.6 percent). Urban respondents were also much more likely than their counterparts to join up with YMCAs, with 25.6 percent indicating they had done so, compared with 18 percent of suburban respondents and 13.6 percent of rural respondents.