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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


The percentage of respondents who indicate that they have plans for construction, from new facilities to additions and renovations at existing facilities, has been climbing gradually. While 62.7 percent in 2013 had such plans, that number has risen to 69.5 percent in 2018.

The number of respondents planning to build new facilities fell slightly this year, from 28.6 percent in 2017 to 28.1 percent in 2018. (See Figure 25.) The number planning additions to existing facilities also decreased, from 30.6 percent to 29.3 percent. The number of respondents planning renovations increased slightly, from 49.3 percent in 2017 to 51 percent in 2018.


Given that they have the oldest facilities, it should not be surprising that camp respondents are the most likely to report that they have plans for construction. Some 85.9 percent of camp respondents said they have plans for construction. They were followed by parks (76.6 percent). More than two-thirds of community center respondents (68.2 percent) and health club respondents (66.7 percent) also said they had plans for construction. Respondents from colleges and universities and from schools are the least likely to have construction plans in the works, though well over half (59.1 percent of schools and 54.1 percent of colleges) said they have plans for construction.

Construction plans of all kinds are most common among camps and parks. For camp respondents, 47.1 percent are planning new facilities, 45.9 percent are planning additions, and 60 percent are planning renovations. They were followed by parks, 33.9 percent of whom have plans for new construction, 32.6 percent for additions, and 57.7 percent for renovations.

When it comes to new construction, camps and parks were followed by colleges, 25.9 percent of whom said they are planning new construction. Community centers were the least likely to be planning new construction, with 15 percent indicating they have such plans.

For additions and renovations, community centers followed camps and parks, with 29.9 percent planning additions and 45.8 percent planning renovations. Health clubs are the least likely to be planning additions (21.2 percent), while colleges are the least likely to be planning renovations (37.1 percent).

The average amount respondents are planning to spend on construction fell slightly in 2018. On average, respondents plan to spend $4,290,000 on construction, a decrease of 0.2 percent from 2017, when the average was $4,299,000. (See Figure 26.). Since 2011, the average budget for construction has not steadily grown, but has been variable. That said, it has increased 8.8 percent since 2011, from an average of $3,942,000.


From 2016 to 2018, respondents from colleges reported the greatest increase to their average construction budget. Among respondents from colleges and universities, the average budget for construction grew 57.4 percent in those years, to an average of $9,500,000. They were followed by community centers, with a 40.7 percent increase, schools (29.3 percent) and health clubs (20.4 percent). More modest increases to construction budgets were reported by those from Ys and parks, where respondents expect to see their construction budgets increase by 15.4 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively. Only camps reported a decrease to construction budgets from 2016 to 2018, with the average cost falling 6.2 percent, to $990,000.

The highest construction spending is found among respondents from colleges and universities, followed by schools and school districts. College respondents in 2018 said they plan to spend 121.4 percent more than the average for all facility types, while schools will spend 48.3 percent more. The only other facility types with a higher-than-average construction cost was parks and recreation, where respondents plan to spend 1.6 percent more than the average for all facility types.

Respondents who plan to spend less than the average for all facility types are led by those from camps, who will spend 76.9 percent less than the average for all respondents. They were followed by health clubs (at 29.8 percent less than the average for all respondents), community centers (29.1 percent) and Ys (12.4 percent).

Public organizations saw the sharpest increase to their construction budgets from 2016 to 2018, with an increase of 28.7 percent, from $3,877,000 in 2016 to $4,990,000 in 2018. They were followed by private for-profit organizations, who projected a much more modest increase of 8.4 percent, from $1,863,000 in 2016 to $2,020,000 in 2018. Finally, respondents from private nonprofit facilities saw an increase in construction costs of 0.4 percent, from $3,227,000 in 2016 to $3,240,000 in 2018.