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Feature Article - June 2016

2016 State of the Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


As in past years, the largest percentage of respondents reported from parks and recreation departments, park districts and similar organizations. Some 41.9 percent of respondents said they worked for parks and recreation. (See Figure 5.) They were followed by respondents from colleges and universities (11.2 percent); schools and school districts (10.5 percent); community or private recreation and sports centers (7.9 percent); campgrounds, RV parks, and private/youth camps (6.5 percent); and YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs or Boys & Girls Clubs (5.5 percent). Smaller numbers of respondents reported from other types of facilities, including: sports, health and fitness clubs (3 percent); golf or country clubs (2.9 percent); resorts or resort hotels (2 percent); waterpark, theme parks or amusement parks (1.7 percent); military installations (1 percent); medical fitness and wellness facilities (0.8 percent); ice rinks (0.6 percent); racquet or tennis clubs (0.5 percent); corporate recreation or sports centers (0.4 percent); or stadiums, arenas and tracks (0.1 percent). Another 3.4 percent of respondents said they work for an "other" type of facilities, such as homeowners associations, churches and more.

Some types of facilities were more likely to be found in certain communities than others. For example, golf and country clubs were far more likely to be found in suburban communities than in other community types. Some 57.4 percent of golf and country clubs were located in the suburbs. Military installations (55 percent) and community or private recreation and sports centers (51.2 percent) were also most likely to be found in suburban communities. Least likely to be found in the suburbs were resorts and resort hotels (17.1 percent), and camps and campgrounds (20 percent).

Respondents from camps and campgrounds were most likely to be found in rural communities, with more than three-quarters (75.6 percent) of these respondents indicating they were in rural areas. They were followed by resorts and resort hotels (63.4 percent), and schools and school districts (49.8 percent). Respondents from community or private sports and recreation centers were least likely to be found in rural areas, with just 23.2 percent of these respondents indicating they were located in rural communities.

While there was no type of facility that was more commonly found in urban areas than in other community types, some were more likely to be urban than others. Some 28.8 percent of colleges and universities were located in urban communities. They were followed by community and private recreation and sports centers (25.6 percent), and YMCAs (24.3 percent). Respondents from camps were least likely to be located in urban communities, as might be expected, with just 4.4 percent indicating they called an urban area home.

Obviously, some types of facilities are more likely to be publicly administered, while others are more likely to be for-profit or nonprofit organizations. Those that were most likely to report that they were with a public organization were respondents from parks and recreation facilities (97.2 percent of which were public), schools and school districts (93.2 percent), and military (81 percent).

Respondents from YMCAs were most likely to be from private nonprofits, with 90.5 percent of Ys reporting they were this type of organization. They were followed by camps and campgrounds (63.8 percent) and golf and country clubs (50.8 percent). Parks were least likely to be private nonprofits, with just 2.5 percent indicating that this was their organization type.

Finally, private for-profit organizations were most common among health club respondents, where 64.1 percent said they were with a private for-profit organization. They were followed by resorts and resort hotels (62.8 percent) and golf and country clubs (29.5 percent).

On average, survey respondents manage seven facilities, consistent with past years, when the average has varied from 6.4 to 6.8. Well over half (59.1 percent) indicated that they manage between one and three facilities. Nearly one-quarter (23.5 percent) said they manage between four and nine facilities. Some 17.4 percent of respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities. (See Figure 6.)

Respondents from urban and suburban communities were much more likely to manage a larger number of facilities than those from rural communities. On average, urban respondents manage 9.4 facilities, suburban respondents manage 7.3, and rural respondents manage 5.2. Nearly one-quarter (24.2 percent) of urban respondents said they managed 10 or more facilities, compared with 18.3 percent of suburban respondents and 11.6 percent of rural respondents. At the same time, 63.8 percent of rural respondents said they manage three or fewer facilities, compared with 56.9 percent of suburban respondents and 55.7 percent of urban respondents.

Respondents from park facilities were much more likely than others to report that they managed a larger number of facilities. On average, parks respondents manage 10.3 facilities, with 27.6 percent reporting that they manage 10 or more. They were followed by school respondents, who manage an average of 6.4 facilities, with 15.9 percent indicating they manage 10 or more. (See Figure 7.) Respondents from health clubs were least likely to report managing 10 or more facilities. On average, health club respondents manage 2.3 facilities, with just 1.6 percent managing 10 or more, and 90.7 percent indicating they manage three or fewer. YMCA respondents also managed fewer facilities, with 86.1 percent indicating they manage three or fewer. Only 39.5 percent of parks respondents said they manage three or fewer facilities.

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