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Feature Article - June 2018

2018 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


On average, survey respondents manage 7.2 facilities, which is consistent with past years, when the average has ranged from 6.4 to 7.4. Well over half (59.7 percent) reported that they manage between one and three facilities. Nearly a quarter (23.3 percent) said they manage between four and nine facilities. And another 17 percent manage 10 or more facilities. (See Figure 6.)


Respondents from urban and suburban communities were more likely than those from rural communities to report that they manage a larger number of facilities, while rural respondents were most likely to report that they manage a single facility. On average, urban respondents manage 8.1 facilities, suburban respondents manage 7.7, and rural respondents manage 5.8. Some 19.6 percent of urban respondents and 19.3 percent of suburban respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, compared with just 12 percent of rural respondents. Conversely, 41 percent of rural respondents said they manage a single facility, compared with 34.6 percent of urban and 32.6 percent of suburban respondents.

Respondents from parks facilities were the most likely to report that they manage a larger number of facilities. On average, parks respondents manage 9.9 facilities, with 27 percent reporting that they manage 10 or more. (See Figure 7.) They were followed by school respondents, who manage an average of 8.2 facilities, with 19.5 percent reporting that they manage 10 or more.


Respondents from camps, health clubs and Ys were the most likely to report that they manage just a single facility, with 62.4 percent of camp respondents, 56.1 percent of health club respondents and 53.1 percent of Y respondents indicating that they manage just a single facility. However, community recreation and sports centers had the lowest average number of facilities, with 2.7.

Forming partnerships with other organizations is a common strategy for recreation, sports and fitness facility owners, providing them with additional opportunities and resources to expand programming and capabilities. In fact, a substantial majority (86.6 percent) of respondents said they form such partnerships, a number that has held fairly steady over time (86.8 percent in 2017 said they had partnered, and 87.2 percent had done so in 2016).

Local schools continue to hold the top spot as the most common type of partner for all facility types. More than six in 10 (61.3 percent) of survey respondents said they had partnered with local schools. (See Figure 8). They were followed by local government (50.3 percent), nonprofit organizations (45.5 percent), corporate or local businesses (32.8 percent), and state government (32.1 percent).


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