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Web Exclusive - June 2016

A Look at Trends in Community Centers


Some 7.9 percent of respondents to the Industry Report survey were from community or private recreation and sports centers. Nearly half (48.8 percent) of these community center respondents were with public organizations. Another 29.5 percent were with private nonprofits, 21.1 percent were with private for-profit organizations, and 0.6 percent were with some other type of organization.

Community center respondents were most likely to be from the West. Some 32.7 percent of these respondents said they were from that region. They were followed by the Midwest (28.5 percent); the South Atlantic (15.2 percent); the Northeast (11.5 percent); and the South Central region (10.3 percent). Another 1.8 percent of community center respondents said they were from outside the United States.

More than half (51.2 percent) of community respondents were from suburban communities. Another 25.6 percent were located in urban areas, and 23.2 percent were from rural communities.

On average, community center respondents said they serve a population of 81,100 people. Some 44.6 percent reported that their population was less than 20,000, while 22.3 percent said they served a population of 100,000 or more.

Some 45.8 percent of community center respondents said that the primary audience served by their facilities was all ages. Another 23.5 percent said they serve adults ages 19 to 64 as their primary audiences. Smaller numbers served an audience of children ages 4 to 12 (18.1 percent), teens (7.2 percent), seniors (4.8 percent) or college students (0.6 percent).

The majority of community centers respondents (86.7 percent) said that they had formed partnerships with other organizations, up from 82.9 percent in 2015. The most common partners were local schools (60 percent of community center respondents had partnered with them); local government (52.1 percent); nonprofit organizations (45.5 percent); corporate or local businesses (32.1 percent); and colleges and universities (30.3 percent).

Revenues & Expenditures

An increasing number of community center respondents are seeing their revenues increase from year to year. While 47.5 percent said revenues had increased from 2014 to 2015, 49.4 percent expect an increase in 2016, and 51 percent projected an increase in 2017.

Community center respondents reported an 11.8 percent increase in operating expenditures this year, from $1,039,000 in fiscal 2015 to $1,162,000 in 2016. Looking forward, these respondents expect a further 13.3 percent increase from 2015 to 2017, with a projected average operating expenditure in 2017 of $1,317,000. On average, community center respondents said they recover 55.6 percent of their operating costs via revenue.

Some 84 percent of community center respondents said they had taken action to reduce their expenditures over the past year, up from 78.6 percent in 2015. The most common actions taken include: increasing fees (50.6 percent of community center respondents had done so); improving energy efficiency (49.4 percent); reducing staff (30.2 percent); putting construction and renovation plans on hold (27.8 percent); and reducing hours of operation (14.2 percent).

Community Center Facilities

There was a big jump in the percentage of community center respondents who said they had plans for construction over the next three years. While 55.6 percent had such plans in 2015, this year, 68.1 percent of community center respondents said they had plans for construction. Some 22.3 percent are planning new construction, while 33.1 percent are planning additions, and 35.3 percent are planning renovations. They are planning to spend an average of $2,160,000 on their construction plans.

Some 41.6 percent of community center respondents said they have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years, well up from 2015, when 32.7 percent had such plans.

The 10 most commonly planned features include: splash play areas, concessions, fitness centers, fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment, playgrounds, park shelters, synthetic turf sports fields, walking and hiking trails, bleachers and seating, and exercise studio rooms.

Programming

The 10 most common programming types currently found among community center respondents include: holidays and other special events; fitness programs; youth sports teams; active older adult programming; day camps and summer camps; mind-body balance programs like yoga and tai chi; educational programs; sports tournaments and races; adult sports teams; and arts and crafts.

Some 38.6 percent of community center respondents said they had plans to add programs at their facilities over the next three years. The 10 most commonly planned program additions include:

  1. Teen programming (no change from 2015)
  2. Fitness programs (no change from 2015)
  3. Mind-body/balance programs such as yoga (up from No. 5)
  4. Educational programs (down from No. 3)
  5. Sports tournaments and races (up from No. 10)
  6. Adult sports teams (did not appear in 2015)
  7. Youth sports teams (did not appear in 2015)
  8. Nutrition and diet counseling (down from No. 4)
  9. Active older adult programming (down from No. 8)
  10. Day camps and summer camps (down from No. 6)
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