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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


Respondents from urban and suburban communities were more likely than those from rural communities to report that they managed a larger number of facilities, while rural respondents were most likely to report managing just a single facility. On average, urban respondents manage 9.8 facilities, suburban respondents manage 7.6, and rural respondents manage 5.4. More than one-quarter (26.1 percent) of urban respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, compared with 17.6 percent of suburban respondents and 12.7 percent of rural respondents. Conversely, 43.5 percent of rural respondents said they manage just a single facility, compared with 32.5 percent of suburban respondents and 30 percent of urban respondents.

Respondents from parks facilities were the most likely to report that they manage a larger number of facilities. On average, parks respondents said they manage 11.1 facilities, with 30.3 percent reporting that they manage 10 or more. (See Figure 7.) They were followed by school respondents, who manage an average of 7.8 facilities, with 17.5 percent reporting that they manage 10 or more.


Respondents from camps and health clubs were the most likely to report that they manage just a single facility, with 68.1 percent of camp respondents and 61.8 percent of health club respondents indicating they manage only one facility. On average, camp respondents manage 3.2 facilities, and health club respondents manage 3.5.

Many recreation, sports and fitness facility owners will form partnerships with other organizations, as a means of expanding their reach, offering additional programming opportunities or as a way to share resources and increase funding. In fact, a majority of respondents (86.8 percent) said they form such partnerships, a number that has held fairly steady over time. (Some 87.2 percent in 2016 formed partnerships, and 85.6 percent of 2015 respondents did so).

Local schools continue to hold their spot as the most common partner for all facility types. Nearly six in 10 (59.8 percent) of respondents said they had partnered with local schools. (See Figure 8.) They were followed by local government (52.3 percent), nonprofit organizations (45.8 percent), colleges and universities (34.8 percent) and state government (32.9 percent).


Interestingly, the percentage of respondents who report that they partner with health care and medical facilities has been increasing gradually since 2013. In 2013, 18.5 percent of respondents said they had partnered with health care and medical facilities. By 2015, that number had risen to 19.3 percent. And in 2017, 21 percent of respondents report that they have partnered with health care and medical facilities.

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