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Feature Article - June 2017

Colleges & Universities

A Look at Trends in Colleges & Universities


Looking forward, the percentage of college respondents expecting usage to increase grows slightly, with 42.1 percent projecting an increase in 2017 and 43.6 percent projecting an increase in 2018. Some 11.9 percent of college respondents are expecting the number of people using their facilities to fall in 2017, while 6.4 percent expect a decrease in 2018.

While construction plans are being made by an increasing number of respondents from most types of facilities, college respondents have seen those numbers remain fairly steady over the past five years. In fact, while 59.2 percent of college respondents in 2013 said they had plans for construction, in 2017, that number fell to 57.4 percent. This compares with 69.9 percent of non-college respondents who have construction plans.

Slightly fewer college respondents in 2017 said they are planning new construction compared with 2016. Some 21.8 percent of college respondents in 2017 said they would be building new facilities. Another 26.4 percent reported that they plan to make additions to their existing facilities, and 38 percent are planning renovations. (See Figure 49.)


Though they are less likely than others to be planning construction, college respondents remain the biggest spenders when it comes to construction plans. College respondents with construction plans reported that they would spend, on average, 81.1 percent more than the average for all respondents--$7,786,000 vs. $4,299,000. In addition, college respondents' construction budgets grew more quickly than the average for all respondents between 2016 and 2017. While for all respondents, construction budgets grew 22.2 percent in that time frame, college respondents' construction budgets grew 29 percent, from $6,037,000 in 2016 to $7,786,000.


There was very little change in the past year in the various features most commonly found among college respondents' facilities. The 10 features that are currently most common include: fitness centers, indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball, locker rooms, exercise studio rooms, bleachers and seating, classrooms and meeting rooms, Wi-Fi services, outdoor courts for sports like basketball and tennis, natural turf sports fields and indoor tracks.

College respondents were less likely than non-college respondents to report that they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. While 42.8 percent of non-college respondents had such plans, just 32.4 percent of college respondents said they would be adding features. This is down from 2016, when 36.3 percent of college respondents were planning to add features.

The most commonly planned features for college respondents in 2017 include:

  1. Synthetic turf sports fields (planned by 28.6 percent of those who intend to add features at their facilities)
  2. Locker rooms (22.9 percent)
  3. Climbing walls (22.9 percent)
  4. Fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (21.4 percent)
  5. Fitness centers (18.6 percent)
  6. Bleachers and seating (17.1 percent)
  7. Classrooms and meeting rooms (17.1 percent)
  8. Exercise studios (14.3 percent)
  9. Disc golf courses (11.4 percent)
  10. Park restroom structures (11.4 percent)

Synthetic turf sports fields continue to hold the top position, though the percentage of college respondents who plan to add them fell from 33.7 percent in 2016.

There were increases in the percentage of college respondents planning to add: locker rooms (up from 22.1 percent), and fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (up 16.3 percent). Commonly planned features in 2017 that did not appear on this list last year include climbing walls, classrooms and meeting rooms, disc golf courses, and park restroom structures. They replace outdoor courts, Wi-Fi services, concessions and indoor tracks.