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Feature Article - June 2018
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2018 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look At What's Happening in Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


Given the large number of respondents who report from park districts and departments, universities and school districts, it is no surprise to find that nearly two-thirds of respondents (65.7 percent) said they work for public organizations. This typically includes parks and recreation departments, public schools, public universities, and other government-run facilities, such as state parks and some community recreation centers. (See Figure 4.) They were followed by those working for private nonprofit organizations. Some 19.9 percent of respondents fall into this category, which includes facilities like YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, JCCs and more. Finally, 9.3 percent of respondents are with private, for-profit organizations, such as health clubs and resorts.


As always, the largest percentage of respondents are from parks and recreation departments, park districts and similar organizations. Some 40.6 percent of respondents said they work for parks. (See Figure 5.) They were followed by respondents from schools and school districts (12.7 percent), colleges and universities (10.8 percent); community or private recreation and sports centers (6.7 percent); campgrounds, RV parks and private or youth camps (5.4 percent); YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs (5.1 percent); and sports, health, fitness clubs and medical fitness clubs (4.2 percent). Smaller numbers of respondents reported from other types of facilities, including: golf and country clubs (2.3 percent); resorts and resort hotels (1.6 percent); waterparks, theme parks and amusement parks (1.4 percent); racquet and tennis clubs (0.8 percent); homeowners associations (0.6 percent); ice rinks (0.6 percent); military installations (0.5 percent); churches (0.4 percent); corporate recreation and sports centers (0.3 percent), and stadiums, arenas and tracks (0.1 percent). Another 6 percent of respondents said they work for "other" types of facilities.


Some types of facilities are more typically found in certain types of communities, with some being more prevalent in the suburbs or in rural areas.

For example, 61.1 percent of golf and country clubs in the survey are found in suburban communities. Other facility types that are more typically found in the suburbs include health clubs (58 percent are in suburban communities), parks (49.9 percent) and YMCAs (41.9 percent).

Respondents from camps and campgrounds are most likely to be located in rural communities. Nearly three-quarters (74.1 percent) of camp respondents said they are located in rural areas. Other facility types that are more commonly found in rural areas than in other community types include schools and school districts (59 percent are in rural communities) and resorts and resort hotels (53.8 percent).

Colleges and universities are the only facility type that was more commonly found in urban areas than in other types of communities. Some 35.3 percent of college respondents said they are located in urban areas.

Likewise, when it comes to organization types, some kinds of facilities are more likely to be managed by public, or government-based organizations, while others are more likely to be owned by for-profit or nonprofit organizations. Respondents from parks were the most likely to report that they are with public organizations, with 95.3 percent of these respondents indicating that they are public. They were followed by schools and school districts (91.5 percent), and community sports and recreation centers (68.8 percent). More than half of college and university respondents (52.9 percent) said they are with public organizations, while 38.2 percent said they are private nonprofits.

Respondents from Ys were the most likely to be from private nonprofits, with 95.1 percent of Ys and similar facilities, such as JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs, indicating that they are with this type of organization. They were followed by medical fitness facilities (68.8 percent), and camp facilities (60 percent).

Finally, private for-profit organizations were most common among resorts and resort hotels, 69.2 percent of which are with this type of organization. They were followed by health clubs (60 percent), and waterparks, theme parks and amusement parks (54.5 percent).

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