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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 top amenities included in respondents' facilities in 2018 include: bleachers and seating (59.3 percent of respondents said their facilities included bleachers and seating); classrooms and meeting rooms (59.2 percent); playgrounds (58.9 percent); outdoor sports courts for basketball, tennis, etc. (58.4 percent); locker rooms (55.5 percent), Wi-Fi services (55.1 percent); concession areas (54 percent); natural turf sports fields (53.7 percent); indoor sports courts (53.3 percent); and open spaces such as gardens and natural areas (52.5 percent). (See Figure 27.)


For the most part, the percentage of respondents in 2018 with various sorts of amenities changed very little from 2017. Only two types of amenities saw an increase of more than two points from 2017 to 2018. Concessions were up 3.3 points, and skateparks were up 3.2.

Looking back five years to 2014, there has been an increase of at least 3 percentage points in the number of respondents whose facilities include: dog parks (up 5.3 points from 13.2 percent); playgrounds (up 4.4 points from 54.5 percent); walking and hiking trails (up 4.2 points from 44 percent); skateparks (up 3.7 points from 16.1 percent); outdoor aquatic facilities (up 3.2 points from 30.3 percent), and disc golf courses (up 3.1 points from 16.2 percent).

Park respondents are more likely than other facility types to include: playgrounds (86.7 percent of park respondents had playgrounds); park shelters (80.4 percent); park restroom structures (75.6 percent); outdoor sports courts (74.4 percent); community/multipurpose centers (58.4 percent); bike trails (46.4 percent); skateparks (41.1 percent); dog parks (38.8 percent); community gardens (33.7 percent); disc golf courses (32.9 percent); fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (32.6 percent); splash play areas (30.7 percent); golf courses (19.9 percent); ice rinks (17.6 percent); waterparks (16.9 percent); and bike/BMX parks (11.4 percent).

Respondents from colleges and universities are the most likely to include: locker rooms (85.4 percent); indoor tracks (57.9 percent); and synthetic turf sports fields (42.7 percent).

School respondents are more likely than other types of facilities to include: bleachers and seating (78.9 percent); outdoor running tracks (78.7 percent); concessions (75.8 percent); and natural turf sports fields (74.2 percent).

Health club respondents are more likely than other facility types to report that they included fitness centers (92.3 percent), and Wi-Fi services (75.4 percent).

Respondents from Ys are more likely than others to indicate that their facilities included: indoor sports courts (85.2 percent); exercise studios (81.5 percent); classrooms and meeting rooms (71.6 percent); indoor aquatic facilities (69.1 percent); and childcare facilities (66.7 percent).

Respondents from camps are more likely than others to include: walking and hiking trails (79.5 percent); open spaces such as gardens and natural areas (78.3 percent); campgrounds (60.2 percent); waterfronts and marinas (51.8 percent); outdoor aquatic facilities (50.6 percent); challenge courses or ropes courses (45.8 percent); clumbing walls (44.6 percent); nature centers (26.5 percent); skiing and winter recreation opportunities (10.8 percent); and amusements (3.6 percent).

The number of respondents who said they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next several years increased from 41.5 percent in 2017 to 43.1 percent in 2018. (See Figure 28.)


Respondents from parks and camps were the most likely to report that they had plans to add features. More than half of parks respondents (56.2 percent) and camp respondents (52.9 percent) said they had such plans. They were followed by community centers (42.1 percent) and colleges (36.5 percent). Less than one-third of Ys (32.1 percent), health clubs (30.3 percent) and schools (25 percent) said they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next few years.

With the exception of schools and Ys, the percentage of respondents planning to add features increased for all facility types between 2017 and 2018.

The top 10 planned features for all facility types include:

  1. Splash play areas (23.6 percent of those with plans to add features will add splash play)
  2. Synthetic turf sports fields (17 percent)
  3. Fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (16.4 percent)
  4. Fitness centers (16.3 percent)
  5. Walking and hiking trails (15.5 percent)
  6. Playgrounds (15.2 percent)
  7. Park shelters (13.6 percent)
  8. Dog parks (13.5 percent)
  9. Exercise studios (12.9 percent)
  10. Disc golf courses (12.9 percent)