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Feature Article - June 2017

State of the INDUSTRY

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

By Emily Tipping


The second largest region, in terms of survey representation was the South Atlantic, which saw a jump from 16.8 percent of respondents in 2016 to 20.2 percent this year, the first time this region has reached the No. 2 spot in the survey. This includes Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

The West was represented by 18.6 percent of respondents, down from 21.4 percent in 2016. This region includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Some 16.3 percent of respondents said they were from the Northeast, a slight drop from 2016, when 17.6 percent of respondents came from this region. The Northeast includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Finally, the South Central region, though it was the smallest in terms of representation, saw a slight increase this year, with 14.2 percent of respondents calling this part of the country home (compared with 12.1 percent in 2016). This region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Finally, just 0.7 percent of survey respondents said they were from outside the United States.

The largest percentage of respondents said that they were from suburban communities, with 42.4 percent reporting that they called the suburbs home. Just over a third (33.7 percent) of respondents said they were from rural areas, and 23.9 percent were from urban communities. (See Figure 2.)

On average, the facilities, districts and departments covered by the Industry Report survey serve a population of 98,400 people. (See Figure 3.) This is 18.3 percent higher than 2016, when the average population served was 83,200. Despite this, nearly two-thirds of respondents (65.4 percent) said their facilities reach an average of 50,000 or fewer people. More than one-third (34.9 percent) serve a population of less than 10,000. Another 12.6 percent said they reach a population of between 50,000 and 99,999 people. Some 8.5 percent said their facilities reach a population between 100,000 and 199,999. Finally, 13.5 percent said they reach a population of 200,000 or more.


Parks and recreation respondents reach the largest populations with their facilities, on average, reaching 132,800, a significant increase from 2016 when these respondents reached 105,300, on average. They were followed by camps, with an average population served of 118,000; Ys, with 86,800; and community recreation and sports centers, with 71,200. The smallest populations served were found among schools and school districts (34,300) and colleges and universities (35,700).

Given the large number of respondents from parks and schools, it comes as no surprise that the largest number of respondents work for public organizations. Nearly two-thirds (65.9 percent) of respondents said they are with public organizations, which includes parks and recreation departments, public schools and public universities, among others. (See Figure 4.) They were followed by those working for private, nonprofit organizations. Nearly a quarter (23.1 percent) of respondents fall into this category, which includes facilities like YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs. Finally, 10.8 percent of respondents said they were with private, for-profit organizations, such as health clubs or resorts.

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