REGIONAL TRENDS

From Cost to Coast, and Everywhere in Between

A Look at Regional Trends in Managed Recreation, Fitness and Sports Facilities

Looking at the survey respondents' answers from a regional perspective reveals that the greatest increases in budgets, revenues, usage, staffing, and new facility construction and renovations are expected in the South Atlantic states, as well as in Western states. This follows logically from U.S. Census Bureau projections, which show the greatest population increases between 2000 and 2010 in these regions. The South Atlantic states, which made up 18.4 percent of the U.S. population in 2000, are expected to make up 19.4 percent of the population in 2010. Western states are projected to see a similar increase, from 22.5 percent of the U.S. population in 2000 to 23.4 percent in 2010.

Northeastern and Midwestern populations are projected to decrease, according to the Census Bureau. The Northeast made up 19 percent of the U.S. population in 2000 and is projected to decrease to 18.1 percent of the population in 2010, while the Midwestern states were home to 22.9 percent of the population in 2000 and are expected to remain home to 21.8 percent in 2010. These decreases are likewise reflected in the regional information gathered from our survey respondents. Respondents in the Northeast and Midwest were more likely to report smaller increases in budgets, revenues and usage than other regions.

The number of respondents from each region was similar to U.S. Census measurements taken in 2000, with the exception of the Midwest, which had more respondents than any other region. (See Figure 27.) One percent of the respondents to the survey represent international organizations, 50 percent of which were military installations. Because this is such a small sample, we will not consider results for international respondents in this portion of the report.


On average across all respondents, 41.2 percent represented parks and recreation departments. This number was much higher for respondents from the Western region, where nearly 50 percent reported working for a parks and recreation department. The region with the fewest respondents from parks and recreation departments was the Northeast, where only 33 percent of respondents represented this type of organization. For the South Central region, 37.6 percent of respondents were from parks and recreation departments. The Midwest fell closer to the national average with 42.2 percent of respondents from this type of organization, and of the South Atlantic respondents, 46.8 percent were from parks and recreation departments.

In the general survey population, 16.7 percent of respondents represented a college or university facility. Regionally, South Central states were far more likely than the average to work for a college or university. More than 23 percent of respondents in this region worked for such a facility. The Midwest and South Atlantic fell close to the national average with 16.8 percent and 16.5 percent of respondents in those regions reporting that they worked for this type of facility. Fewer colleges and universities were found among respondents in the Northeast, where 15.4 percent reported working for this type of facility, and in the West, where just over 11 percent worked for a college or university.

For all regions, 11.2 percent of respondents reported working for a school or school district. Broken down regionally, we can see that far fewer respondents in the South Atlantic states (5.7 percent) and in the Western states (8 percent) said they worked for a school or school district. Nearly 15 percent of respondents from the Midwest said they represented a school or school district.

Nearly one in 10 respondents (9.3 percent) said they worked for a YMCA, YWCA, JCC, health club or sports club. More respondents from the Northeast were likely to report working for this type of facility than the average. In this region, 15.1 percent of respondents said they worked for a YMCA or health club. The respondents in the Western states were least likely to report working for such a facility. Just over 7 percent of respondents in this region work for a YMCA or health club. Nearly 11 percent of those in the South Central states, nearly 10 percent in the Midwest, and 8 percent in the South Atlantic states said they worked for this type of facility.

Camping-related facilities, including campgrounds, private camps, youth camps and RV parks, represented 6.7 percent of the total survey population. Respondents from the Northeast were the most likely to work for a camping-related facility. In this region, 10.4 percent said they worked for such a facility. The fewest camps, campgrounds and RV parks were to be found in the South Central states, where just under 4 percent of respondents reported working for such a facility.

Resorts and resort hotels, which were represented by 2.8 percent of overall respondents, were more likely than average to be found in the South Atlantic or Western states, perhaps coinciding with these states' reputations as resort vacation locations.

Regionally, the numbers are most telling when we consider the increases-or decreases-in patronage, revenues and budgets.

The greatest increases in facility usage are expected in the South Atlantic states, where 71 percent of respondents saw an increase in the number of people using their facilities from 2005 to 2006. By 2007 to 2008, nearly three-quarters of respondents in this region are expecting increases in usage. South Central states were the second most likely to report increases, with 64.7 percent reporting an increase from 2005 to 2006, nearly 71 percent predicting an increase from 2006 to 2007, and more than 73 percent predicting an increase from 2007 to 2008.

The Western states were less likely to see increases in the number of people using their facilities from 2005 to 2006. However, more than 71 percent of the respondents in this region predicted an increase from 2007 to 2008.

The smallest increases-and the greatest decreases-were seen in the Midwest from 2005 to 2006. Here, just over 60 percent of respondents saw an increase in the number of people using their facilities last year, while more than 8 percent said usage decreased. (See Figure 28.)


Revenue increases for facilities across the board were on a similar track, the Western and South Atlantic states most likely to report an increase from 2005 to 2006. In these regions, 61.7 percent and 61.5 percent of respondents reported increases. Revenue increases were least likely to be reported in the South Central states and in the Midwest, where 45 percent and 48.8 percent of respondents reported increases, respectively.

However, it's in the years 2006 to 2007 and 2007 to 2008 that the South Atlantic states really take off in terms of revenue. Nearly 70 percent of respondents in that region said they expected an increase in revenues from 2006 to 2007, and 71 percent said they expected such increases from 2007 to 2008.

Midwestern respondents were the least likely to be expecting revenue increases between 2006 and 2008. Just over half predicted increases from 2006 to 2007, and just over 61 percent reported increases from 2007 to 2008.

Operating expenditures follow a similar track, with the highest level of operating expenditures for fiscal year 2006 seen in the Western states. Here, respondents averaged approximately $1.3 million in operating expenditures, which is 11.3 percent higher than the average across all respondents of $1.18 million. However, the rate of increase in operating expenditures will be lowest in the Western states between fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2008, with an increase of just 7 percent to $1.4 million.

The highest rate of increase in operating expenditures is expected in the South Atlantic states, whose respondents reported an expected 9.9 percent increase in operating expenditures, from $1.28 million in fiscal 2006 to more than $1.4 million in fiscal 2008.

The lowest operating expenditures for fiscal 2006 were reported by respondents in the Northeast, with an average of $1.08 million-9.5 percent less than the average across all respondents. This group expects operating expenditures to increase by 8.1 percent to $1.17 million by fiscal 2008. (See Figure 29.)


Staffing levels tell a similar story, with dramatic increases reported in the South Atlantic states-a 45.4 percent increase from 307.5 employees on average reported currently to 447 projected for 2008. The second highest level of increase is projected for the South Central states, which projected a 16.7 percent increase from 198.3 employees on average now to 231.5 on average in 2008. The smallest increases in staffs were expected in the Midwest, which projects virtually no change between now and 2008. Respondents in the Northeast actually projected a slight decrease in the number of staff required to run their facilities.

Facility planning follows a similar trend, with respondents in the Western states most likely to be planning changes to their facilities, followed by respondents in the South Atlantic states.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents from the West said they are planning to build new, add to existing facilities and/or renovate their existing facilities. They're more likely than other regions to be planning renovations-61.2 percent are planning to renovate their existing facilities. Respondents in this region are also planning the greatest average expenditures for these plans, compared to other regions. This could be a reflection of higher construction costs reported in mountain states.

Respondents in the South Atlantic states reported the second highest level of planned expenditures for their facility plans. On average, respondents in this region are planning to spend $4.4 million on facility plans in the next several years. They also are more likely than respondents in other regions to be planning to build completely new facilities. More than 44 percent of respondents in this region are planning to start from scratch and build new facilities.

Respondents from the Midwest are the least likely to be planning new facilities, additions or renovations. Nearly 30 percent of respondents in this region said they have no plans at present. Those who are planning to build report an average planned expenditure of $3.3 million.


The lowest planned spending is reported by respondents in the Northeast, who plan to spend $3.1 million on average on new facilities, additions and renovations. Respondents in this region were least likely to be planning to build new. (See Figures 30 and 31.)

Amenities fall across expected regional distinctions, with more facilities in the Northeast reporting that they had synthetic turf fields (perhaps representing greater weather and programming challenges in this region), ice rinks and amusements. Respondents in this region were much less likely than those in other regions to include a skatepark as part of their facilities. However, Northeastern facilities were more likely than respondents in other regions to say that they are planning to add a skatepark in the next few years. The number-one amenity respondents in this region said they were planning to add in the next three years was synthetic turf sports fields for games like soccer, baseball and football. Playgrounds and waterparks and splash play areas received less emphasis in this region than in others.


Facilities in the Midwest were more likely than others to include indoor aquatic facilities, waterparks or splash play areas, ice rinks, running tracks and skateparks. They were far less likely to include synthetic turf sports fields or climbing walls. That said, respondents from the Midwest did include both synthetic turf fields and climbing walls in their top 10 list of amenities they plan to add in the next few years. In this region, though, it seems that play's the thing, with playgrounds representing the number-one amenity facilities are planning to add in the next several years.

In the South Atlantic states, you're more likely to find outdoor sports courts than in other regions, as well as park structures, trails and open spaces, community centers and multipurpose centers, and waterfronts and marinas. On the other hand, you're far less likely to find indoor aquatic facilities, climbing walls, skateparks and ice rinks. The lack of indoor aquatics and ice rinks can probably be attributed to climate. The top three planned amenities for the next three years in the South Atlantic region include trails and open spaces, park structures and waterpark or splash play areas. Also making an appearance in the top 10 amenities planned by respondents in this region were skateparks, sports courts-both indoor and outdoor-and fitness centers.

Respondents from the South Central region were more likely than others to include bleachers and seating, indoor sports courts, fitness centers and running tracks. On the other hand, they were less likely to include park structures, trails and open spaces, skateparks and synthetic turf sports fields. This region was the least likely to include an ice rink, probably due to climate. When it comes to planned additions over the next several years, this region varies little from the general population, with slightly more prevalence given to concession areas, locker rooms, and indoor and outdoor sports courts, and slightly less to playgrounds. Fitness centers and climbing walls do not appear among the top 10 planned amenities for this region.

Facilities in the Western region were more likely to include outdoor aquatic facilities, climbing walls, skateparks and golf courses. They were less likely to include concession areas, indoor sports courts, running track and ice rinks. Top planned amenities among respondents in the Western region closely match those planned across the nation.

Programming options were largely similar across regions. In addition to being the number-one program offering across the country, holidays and other special events were also the top offering in the Northeast, South Atlantic and Western states, being most prevalent in the Northeast, where two-thirds of respondents said they provided such programming. Educational programming was the number-one option offered in the Midwest, and in the South Central region, fitness programs were the top choice.

The Northeast differs from the general survey results in several areas. Day camps and summer camps were more prevalent here, as well as swimming programs and youth sports teams. Also appearing in these respondents' top 10 program offerings, but not among the general survey population, were arts and crafts and teen programming. Fitness programs, mind/body balance programs and adult sports teams were slightly less emphasized by respondents in this region.

All of the programs listed in the top 10 across all regions also appear as the top 10 programs offered in the Midwest, but more Midwestern respondents offer these programs than other regions. For example, while just over 59 percent of all respondents provide programs for holidays and other special events, 61.3 percent of Midwestern respondents do so. The greatest discrepancies were to be found in sports tournaments and races, provided by 5.6 percent more Midwestern respondents than the average across the board, and adult sports teams, offered by 4.9 percent more Midwestern facilities.

The South Atlantic states were the most likely to offer educational programs. Swimming programs and sport training were less popular in this region, while facilities in these states were far more likely to plan trips for their patrons than others.

Respondents from the South Central states were the only regional respondents to list aquatic exercise among their top 10 program offerings. Fitness was the number-one offering in this region, though respondents in the West were the most likely to offer fitness programs.

In the Western states, swimming programs were more prevalent than in other states. Active older adults also appear on the top 10 list of programs offered in this region, though this option is not listed in the top 10 for any other region. Mind/body balance programs also receive greater emphasis in the West than in the general survey population.

Among the general survey population, environmental education was the top choice for programs to be added over the next several years. Facilities in the Midwest were slightly more likely than the average respondent to list this program as a planned addition for the next few years. Environmental education was also the number-one program addition selected by those in the Northeast. It was slightly less prevalent in Western states.

Fitness programs, which were the second most common choice for program additions planned for the next few years among the general survey population, were more likely to be chosen by those in the West and in the South Atlantic states. In both of these regions, fitness programs were selected as the number-one option facilities are planning to add in the next three years.

Mind/body balance programs, the third choice of the general population, were most likely to be selected as a top program addition by respondents in the South Central states. Other regions likely to be adding this programming option include the Northeast, the West and the Midwest.

Nutrition and diet counseling was the top choice for program additions among respondents in the South Central states.

Other departures from the general survey population included the Northeast, which selected teen programming as one of the top five program additions; the South Atlantic states, which also selected teen programming as well as day camps and summer camps; the South Central states, which selected holidays and other special events as one of their top five additions; and the West, which was the most likely to be planning to add teen programming and active older adult programs.

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