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, parks and schools were more likely than others to report that they formed partnerships. Some 99.3 percent of YMCA respondents, 94.8 percent of park respondents and 89.7 percent of school respondents reported forming such partnerships. (See Figure 8.)

YMCAs were more likely than others to partner with local schools (83 percent of Ys had formed such partnerships), nonprofit organizations (80.7 percent), other YMCAs (61.5 percent), corporate or local businesses (60.7 percent), health care facilities (54.1 percent), military (34.1 percent), and the federal government (28.9 percent). Parks respondents were more likely than others to partner with local government (68.5 percent of parks respondents had done so). Schools were more likely than others to partner with state government (49.5 percent of school respondents had formed such partnerships).

Camps and health clubs were the least likely to report that they had formed partnerships, though a majority did so. Some 72.5 percent of camp respondents and 73 percent of health club respondents indicated that they do form partnerships. The most common partners for camps include nonprofit organizations (52.3 percent of camps partner with them); local schools (32.2 percent); and colleges and universities (27 percent). For health club respondents, the most common partners include corporate or local businesses (51.4 percent of health club respondents partner with them), local schools (36.5 percent) and health care or medical facilities (31.1 percent).

For the largest percentage of survey respondents, the primary audience served by their facilities is of no specific age. Some 41.8 percent of respondents said their facilities serve all ages. Another 17.2 percent said they serve adults ages 19 to 64, and the same number (17.2 percent) said children ages 4 to 12 were their primary audience. More than one in 10 (11.9 percent) indicated that college students are their primary audience, and slightly less (8.8 percent) said teens ages 13 to 18 are their primary audience. Just 2.3 percent indicated that seniors 65 and older are their main facility users, and 0.3 percent serve infants and toddlers younger than 4 years old. (See Figure 9.)

Because of the predominance of different types of respondents in different sizes of communities, the primary audience served based on community type varies. Suburban respondents, for example, were more likely than their urban and rural counterparts to report that they served all ages. Some 43.8 percent of suburban respondents cater to an audience of all ages, compared with 42.1 percent of rural respondents and 37.3 percent of urban respondents.

The differences are more marked for the other audience groupings. With college respondents more heavily weighted toward urban areas than other community types, it should come as no surprise that urban respondents were more likely than others to report that their primary audience was made up of college students. In fact, 20.1 percent of urban respondents named this as their primary audience, compared with 9.5 percent of suburban respondents and 9 percent of rural respondents.

Seniors, on the other hand, were more likely to be a primary audience for suburban and urban respondents. Among these respondents, 3 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, said seniors were their main audience at their facilities, compared with 1.3 percent of rural respondents.

Rural respondents were more likely than their counterparts in urban and suburban areas to name teens as their primary audience, likely reflecting the higher number of school/school district respondents from this type of community. Some 12.7 percent of rural respondents said teens were their primary audience, compared with 7.1 percent of urban respondents and 6.7 percent of suburban respondents.

Along similar lines, it stands to reason that primary audience will vary widely depending on the types of facilities covered. Most obviously, college students are primarily the primary audience for college respondents. Some 84.1 percent of college respondents said that college students were their primary audience.

Adults ages 19 to 64 were most likely to be the primary audience for health club respondents. Some 71.6 percent of health club respondents named this as their primary audience. Schools and colleges were obviously least likely to name adults as their primary audience.

Parks respondents were more likely than others to say they served an all-ages audience. Some 56.1 percent of parks respondents said their primary audience was all ages. They were followed by YMCAs, 55.1 percent of whom said they served all ages. Colleges and health clubs were least likely to serve all ages, with 5 percent of colleges and 23 percent of health clubs indicating this was their primary audience.

Teens were most likely to be the primary audience for school respondents. Some 53 percent of school respondents said they primarily served teens. They were followed by camp respondents, 17.3 percent of whom named teens as their primary audience.

Children ages 4 to 12 were most likely to be the primary audience for parks respondents. More than a quarter (26.6 percent) of parks respondents said they primarily served children in this age group. They were followed by camp respondents, 24.3 percent of whom primarily serve children ages 4 to 12.

Golf clubs and country clubs were more likely than others to name seniors as their primary audience, with 9.3 percent of these respondents indicating they primarily served seniors 65 and older. They were followed by YMCAs, 3.7 percent of whom named seniors as their primary audience.