2013 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping

In the course of the seven years that Recreation Management has been compiling this in-depth look at the State of the Industry, there has been a great deal of change. Many ups and downs have been recorded. Many projections have been adjusted in light of economic, legislative and other realities. For facilities of all kinds, the economic downturn had an impact, with some, like schools and school districts, feeling the crunch more than others. In 2012, we reported a great deal of stabilization in the marketplace, and witnessed the hints of a turnaround. If anything, this year's report further emphasizes this situation, with an adjustment to the "new normal" of our current economic situation.

Welcome to your seventh annual State of the Industry Report, where we take a look behind the scenes of the managed recreation, sports and fitness industry to determine which trends are having the greatest impact on facility management, programming, construction and more. The information compiled within these pages is based on an in-depth survey of more than 2,100 professionals working in the recreation, sports and fitness market. We thank these professionals who graciously took their time to answer more than 50 questions about the state of their own facilities now and over the next few years, as well as their careers, issues of concern and much more.

Here, we report the responses to you, summarizing the current state of the industry, beginning with the overall results. Market-specific results can be found in following sections, where we break the data down by region represented (see page 34), then look at specific information for respondents from aquatic facilities (see page 44), parks and recreation facilities (see page 56), colleges and universities (see page 64), schools and school districts (see page 70), health clubs (see page 74), and YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs, and Boys and Girls Clubs (see page 78). Further information from camp facilities and community or private recreation and sports centers can be found in our special, web-exclusive reports, online at www.recmanagement.com.

Who Are You?

As our Industry Report survey is sent to Recreation Management readers, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the vast majority of respondents represent decision-makers at their organizations. More than one-third (35.1 percent) of respondents hold the title of director. Another 19.5 percent are in administration management, with such titles as administrator, manager or superintendent. Some 17.8 percent represent operations facility management, including operations managers, facility managers, building managers and supervisors. Around one in 10 respondents (10.1 percent) were in program and activity administration, with titles such as activity or program director, manager, coordinator, specialist, coach or instructor. Slightly fewer (8.7 percent) were the chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner for their organization. Around 0.6 percent were in services, including planners, designers, architects and consultants. Finally, 8.2 percent were in "other" job roles that were not specified in the report. The largest number of these "other" respondents came from colleges and universities, or schools and school districts, suggesting they may be faculty.

Once again, there was very little change from last year's report in the percentage of respondents representing various regions of the country. Slightly fewer respondents this year were from the Northeast and South Atlantic regions, while slightly more were from the Midwest.

With 29.2 percent of the respondents, the Midwest had the most representation in the survey response. This includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. (See Figure 1.)

The next largest group hails from the West, with slightly more than one-fifth (20.3 percent) of respondents calling the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming their home.

The South Atlantic states, with 19.6 percent of responses, were the next largest group. This includes the states of Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

The Northeast dropped from 17.8 percent of respondents last year to 16.5 percent this year. This region includes the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Some 13.6 percent of respondents came from the South Central region, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Finally, international respondents make up a small 0.7 percent of the response to the survey.

There was very little change in the numbers of respondents reporting in from different types of communities. Suburban respondents again represent the largest number, with 40.2 percent of the response coming from suburban communities. (See Figure 2.) A little more than one-third (33.8 percent) of respondents were from rural communities. And just over a quarter (26 percent) were from urban communities.

There also was virtually no change in the percentage of respondents representing different types of organizations. As usual, more than two-thirds of respondents (67.4 percent) reported from public organizations, such as parks and recreation departments, or public schools and universities. A little more than a fifth (21.4 percent) were from private nonprofit organizations, such as YMCAs. Finally, 10.1 percent worked for private, for-profit organizations, such as health clubs. (See Figure 3.)

Respondents from urban communities were more likely than those from the suburbs or rural areas to represent public organizations. While two-thirds of suburban (66 percent) and rural (66.2 percent) respondents represented public organizations, 71 percent of urban respondents were from these types of organizations. On the other hand, 23.2 percent of rural respondents represented private nonprofit organizations, compared with 21.1 percent of suburban respondents and 19.3 percent of urban respondents. And 11.1 percent of suburban respondents represented private for-profit organizations, compared with 10.1 percent of rural respondents and 8.7 percent of urban respondents.

When it comes to the types of facilities respondents represent, the largest groups have been fairly consistent over the years. Once again, the largest group (37.3 percent) represents parks and recreation departments, park districts and similar entities. Another 14.8 percent were from colleges and universities. Some 11.4 percent were from schools and school districts. Less than one in 10 were from community or private recreation and sports centers (7.6 percent); campgrounds, RV parks, or private camps and youth camps (6.1 percent); YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys and Girls Clubs (5.6 percent); sports, health or fitness clubs (3 percent); golf or country clubs (2.6 percent); military installations (1.7 percent); resorts and resort hotels (1.4 percent); waterparks, theme parks and amusement parks (1.4 percent); medical fitness and wellness facilities (1.3 percent); and ice rinks (1 percent). Less than one out of 100 respondents were from racquet and tennis clubs (0.7 percent); stadiums, arenas and tracks (0.3 percent); and corporate recreation and sports centers (0.2 percent). Some 3.7 percent of respondents represented "other" facility types, which include homeowners associations, churches and more. (See Figure 4.)

When facility types are compared with the communities from which respondents reported, a picture emerges of the types of facilities and communities that are most likely to coincide. Urban respondents were more likely than respondents across the board to be from park facilities (40.5 percent of urban respondents), or colleges and universities (21.8 percent of urban respondents). Suburban respondents were more likely than other respondents to be from health clubs (4.2 percent of suburban respondents), YMCAs (6.7 percent) or community sports and recreation centers (6.1 percent). And respondents from rural communities were more likely than the across-the-board average to report in from schools and school districts (17.1 percent) and camps (13.6 percent).

When you look at the types of organizations represented by various facility types, yet another picture emerges. As might be expected, the vast majority of respondents from parks (97.9 percent) and from schools and school districts (92.9 percent) were from public organizations. On the other hand, 92.4 percent of YMCA respondents reported they worked for private nonprofit organizations (some 5.9 percent reported they worked for public organizations), and more than two-thirds of health club respondents (67.7 percent) were private for-profit organizations.

Colleges and universities present a more mixed picture, with 61.8 percent representing public institutions, and 37.3 percent representing private schools. Camps and community centers also saw more mixed representation. Among camp respondents, some 55 percent were from private nonprofit organizations, while 23.3 percent were private for-profit organizations. More than a fifth (20.9 percent) were public organizations. Nearly half (47.2 percent) of community centers were public organizations, while 30.2 percent were private nonprofits and 20.1 percent were private for-profit organizations.

On average, respondents manage 6.8 facilities, but a majority actually manage three or fewer. Some 59 percent reported that they manage between one and three facilities. Another 22.7 percent manage from four to nine facilities. And 18.4 percent manage 10 or more facilities. (See Figure 5.)

As might be expected, respondents from urban and suburban communities reported a higher average number of facilities managed. Urban respondents average 8.3 facilities on average, while suburban respondents manage 6.9 on average. Rural respondents, on the other hand, manage an average of 5.4 facilities.

Similarly, respondents from public organizations reported that they manage a larger number of facilities on average, at 8.4, compared with an average of 3.4 for private for-profit organizations and an average of 3.1 for private nonprofit organizations.

This is reflected in the average numbers of facilities managed by various facility types. (See Figure 6.) Parks respondents manage the largest number of facilities on average, at 10.5. They are followed by schools and school districts (8.1). Camps respondents reported that they manage just 2.9 facilities on average. And YMCAs manage just three facilities on average.

There was a slight decrease in the percentage of respondents who said they partner with other types of organizations outside of their own in 2013 vs. 2012. Last year, 13.9 percent of respondents said they did not partner with any other organizations. In 2013, that number rose to 14.8 percent. That said, the majority of respondents do form partnerships, which can help spread operating costs, increase programming and marketing opportunities and more. (See Figure 7.)

The most common partnerships were found between respondents and local schools and local government. More than half of respondents said they partner with local schools (56.1 percent ) and local government (50.8 percent, an increase from 47.2 percent in 2012). Nonprofit organizations were partners for 40.9 percent of respondents, and around one-third (33.4 percent) partnered with colleges and universities.

Respondents from urban communities were more likely than those from the suburbs and rural communities to form partnerships with others. Some 89.7 percent of urban respondents said they partnered with other organizations, while 84.4 percent of rural respondents and 82.9 percent of suburban respondents formed such partnerships.

In almost every case, urban respondents were more likely to partner with a specific entity. They were far more likely than others to partner with nonprofits (45.4 percent of urban respondents); colleges and universities (44.1 percent); YMCAs (27.4 percent); and the military (18 percent). The only cases where urban respondents were not the most likely to partner with an entity were for local government (suburban at 54.8 percent); and corporate/local business (suburban at 33.8 percent).

Public organizations were vastly more likely to partner with other organizations than private for-profit organizations. Private nonprofits fall in the middle Some 91.9 percent of public organizations reported that they form such partnerships, compared with 78.3 percent of private nonprofits and 56.7 percent of private for-profit organizations.

The most common partners for public organizations included local schools (62.3 percent of public organizations partnered with schools), local governments (60.2 percent) and nonprofits (42.5 percent). For private for-profit organizations, schools were also the most likely partner, with 32.4 percent forming such partnerships. They were followed by corporate or local businesses (30 percent) and colleges and universities (21.4 percent). Among private nonprofit organizations, schools were the most common partner (48.5 percent), followed by other nonprofits (46.3 percent) and colleges and universities (37.4 percent).

YMCAs were the most likely to form partnerships with outside organizations, with some 96.6 percent reporting they had done so. They were followed by parks respondents (96.2 percent) and schools and school districts (86.4 percent). (See Figure 8.)

YMCAs were not only the most likely to form partnerships, but were the most likely to form partnerships with most entities, including local schools, nonprofits, corporate or local businesses, YMCAs, healthcare and medical facilities and the military. Schools and school districts were more likely than any other facility type to form partnerships with state and local government. Colleges and universities were more likely than others to partner with other colleges and universities. Parks were more likely to partner with local government. And, interestingly, health clubs were more likely than other facility types to partner with other health clubs.

The greatest number of respondents report that the primary audience for their facilities is all ages. Some 40.8 percent of respondents indicated that their facilities were meant for an all-ages audience. They were followed by facilities meant for adults (18 percent of respondents), children ages 4 to 12 (15.7 percent) and college students (13.1 percent).

There was some variance in the primary audience for facilities based on the type of organization represented. Public organizations were more likely than private for-profit and nonprofit organizations to be aimed at all ages (43.2 percent vs. 40.6 percent and 32.7 percent, respectively), as well as children ages 4 to 12 (16.9 percent) and teens (11.5 percent). Private for-profit organizations were far more likely than others to be aimed at adults (34.9 percent of private for-profit vs. 17.4 percent of private nonprofit and 15.5 percent of public). And private nonprofit organizations were around twice as likely to be targeted for college students (22.1 percent) than public organizations (11.5 percent).

Revenues & Expenditures

In our 2012 Industry Report, some 41.5 percent of respondents projected that their revenues would increase from 2011 to 2012, and 15.7 percent expected revenues to decrease. And, in fact, those numbers were not far off from this year's response. Some 41.1 percent of respondents this year said their revenues had increased from 2011 to 2012, and 16.3 percent reported a decrease. Further improvement in the revenue situation is expected over the next two years, with 43.8 percent predicting an increase from 2012 to 2013 (vs. 11.2 percent who expect a decrease) and 44.9 percent expecting an increase from 2013 to 2014 (vs. 7.8 percent who expect a decrease). (See Figure 9.)

Respondents from private for-profit organizations were the most likely to report that their revenues had increased from 2011 to 2012, and also were most likely to expect further increases in 2013 and 2014. More than half (51.7 percent) said their revenues had increased in 2012, and 66 percent expect an increase in 2013, while 67 percent expect an increase in 2014. This compared with just 46.1 percent of nonprofit respondents who saw an increase in 2012, and just 38.2 percent of public organizations.

At the same time, private for-profit organizations were also the most likely to report that their revenues had fallen from 2011 to 2012, with 18 percent indicating such a change. Looking ahead, public organizations were most likely to expect revenue decreases in 2013 and 2014, with 13.2 percent and 9.2 percent projecting decreases, respectively. In that same timeframe, private for-profit organizations are least likely to expect a decrease, with just 5 percent projecting that revenues will fall in 2013, and just 4.2 percent expecting a drop in 2014.

Respondents from YMCAs, camps and health clubs were the most likely facilities to report that their revenues had increased from 2011 to 2012. These facility types also had the most positive outlook for 2013 and 2014. Some 59 percent of YMCAs, 57 percent of camps and 49.2 percent of health clubs said their revenues had increased from 2011 to 2012. From 2012 to 2013, 77.4 percent of health clubs, 64.5 percent of camps and 60.2 percent of YMCAs expect an increase. And from 2013 to 2014, 70.8 percent of camps, 69.5 percent of YMCAs and 68.3 percent of health clubs expect an increase.

Schools and school districts continue to struggle with revenues, with just 14.7 percent reporting their revenues had gone up in 2012, and 23.7 percent reporting revenues had fallen. Their outlook continues to be relatively bleak compared with other respondents, with more expecting a decrease than an increase in 2013 (27 percent vs. 23.5 percent) and again in 2014 (24.5 percent vs. 20.8 percent).

After reporting an 8.8 increase in operating expenditures from 2010 to 2011 last year, this year saw a slight drop again, of 6.2 percent from an average operating expenditure of $1,552,000 in fiscal 2011 to $1,456,000 in fiscal 2012. Respondents expect operating expenditures to rise slightly over the next couple of years, eventually climbing by 4.1 percent from fiscal 2012 to $1,515,000 in fiscal 2014. (See Figure 10.)

The biggest drops in operating expenses were found among community sports and recreation centers, which saw their average operating expenditure fall 16.4 percent from $1,266,000 in fiscal 2011 to $1,058,000 in fiscal 2012. They were followed by colleges, which reported a drop of 15 percent. Less dramatic decreases were seen among YMCAs (whose operating expenditures fell by 7 percent), health clubs (2.8 percent) and parks (2.3 percent). Schools actually reported an increase of 16.6 percent in their operating expenditures from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2012, and camps reported an 8.7 percent increase. (See Figure 11.)

Between 2012 and 2014, respondents from health clubs, community centers and YMCAs are expecting to see the greatest increases in their operating expenses. Health club respondents project a 9.8 percent increase from $1,162,000 in fiscal 2012 to $1,276,000 in fiscal 2014, while community centers expect an increase of 8.7 percent and YMCAs project an 8 percent increase. Slighter increases are expected among camps (4.1 percent), colleges and universities (3.7 percent) and parks (2.8 percent). Respondents from schools and school districts project a decrease of 3 percent in their operating expenditures in that time period, from $1,519,000 in fiscal 2012 to $1,474,000 in fiscal 2014.

When it comes to organization type, while public organizations reported the highest average operating expenditures (3.2 percent higher than the across-the-board average for fiscal 2012 at $1,503,000), they are expecting the smallest increases in their operating expenditures between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2014. (This is likely largely driven by the decreases expected among schools and school districts). Public organizations projected an increase of 1.9 percent in their average operating expenditure from fiscal 2012 to $1,532,000 in fiscal 2014. The greatest increases were projected among private for-profit organizations, who are expecting an increase of 17.1 percent from $1,176,000 in fiscal 2012 to $1,377,000 in fiscal 2014. Private nonprofits fall in the middle with a 6.3 percent increase from an average operating expenditure of $1,434,000 in fiscal 2012 to $1,524,000 in fiscal 2014.

A majority of respondents indicated that they had taken some action to reduce their expenditures. Some 86.3 percent have undertaken measures to reduce their costs. The most common method employed was improving energy efficiency. Some 55 percent of respondents indicated they had done so. More than two out of five indicated they had increased their fees (43.6 percent) or reduced their staffing levels (43.1 percent). Around a third (33.2 percent) said they had put construction or renovation plans on hold, while more than a quarter (26.5 percent) had cut programming or services. (See Figure 12.)

Public organizations were most likely to have taken action to reduce their expenditures. Some 87.5 percent of them had done so, compared with 85.1 percent of private nonprofits and 84.1 percent of private for-profit organizations.

Public organizations were slightly more likely than others to have improved energy efficiency (55.4 percent) and reduced staffing levels (45.9%), but were far more likely than others to have cut programming or services (31.5%), reduced their hours of operation (27%), shortened their season of operation (12.4%) or closed facilities altogether (8.9%). By comparison, among private for-profit facilities (where, admittedly, these measures would tend to be counterproductive), those numbers stand at: 13 percent (cut programs and services), 15.4 percent (reduced hours), 5.3 percent (shortened season), 2.4 percent (closed facilities).

When it comes to facility types, respondents from YMCAs were most likely to have taken action to reduce their operating expenditures. Some 94.8 percent indicated they had done so. They were followed by camps (93.7 percent), health clubs (90.5 percent), and parks (89 percent). Respondents from parks were most likely to indicate that they had reduced staffing, put construction plans on hold, reduced hours of operation or closed facilities. Respondents from YMCAs were the most likely to have improved their facilities' energy efficiency. Respondents from camps were most likely to have increased fees. And respondents from schools were most likely to have cut programs or services.

Facility Usage & Memberships

There was virtually no change from 2012 to 2013 in the number of respondents who charge a fee for membership or usage of their facilities. Nearly three out of five (59.4 percent) respondents indicate that they do charge a fee, while 40.6 percent indicate they do not. (See Figure 13.)

Respondents from private nonprofit organizations were the most likely to charge a membership or usage fee, followed by private for-profit organizations. Some 68.9 percent of respondents from private nonprofit organizations said they charge such a fee, while 62.3 percent of private for-profit facilities do so. Public organizations were least likely to charge a fee, though 56 percent indicated they do so.

When it comes to facility type, YMCAs are the most likely to charge a fee for membership or usage, with 96.6 percent of respondents from these facilities indicating they do so. They were followed by health clubs (95.3 percent) and community or private sports and recreation centers (72.8 percent). Less than two-thirds (62.6 percent) of parks respondents charge a fee, and more than half of colleges (56.4 percent) and camps (55 percent) do so. Schools were least likely to charge a fee for membership or usage of their facilities, with less than a quarter (23.6 percent) of these respondents indicating they do so.

The number of respondents who expect to increase their fees is growing slightly over time, from 31.2 percent who reported such an increase from 2011 to 2012, to 39.2 percent who expect such an increase from 2013 to 2014. (See Figure 14.) That said, fees are relatively stable over time, with more than six in 10 respondents indicating that fees will remain the same from 2012 through 2014. More than two-thirds (66.9 percent) said there was no change in fees from 2011 to 2012, while 64.5 percent said there will be no change in 2013, and 60.2 percent said there will be no change in 2014. Very few respondents indicated their fees will be decreasing.

More than half of respondents expect the number of people using their facilities to increase in every year covered by the survey. Past surveys showed similar results. At the same time, a falling number of respondents expect to see a decrease over time in the number of people using their facilities. (See Figure 15.)

The 2012 Industry Report showed that 51.6 percent of respondents saw an increase in usage from 2010 to 2011. This year, 52.7 percent reported an increase from 2011 to 2012. More than half also expect further increases in 2013 (54.4 percent) and 2014 (52.4 percent).

At the same time, the number of respondents expecting to see usage drop at their facilities is falling over time, from 13.9 percent who reported a decrease from 2009 to 2010, to 11.2 percent reporting a decrease from 2010 to 2011, to 9.8 percent reporting a decrease from 2011 to 2012. Looking forward, less than 5 percent expect a decrease in 2013 (4.6 percent) and in 2014 (3.2 percent).

Respondents from private for-profit organizations tend to be most optimistic about membership growth looking ahead. While 53.8 percent of private for-profit organizations reported an increase in the number of people using their facilities from 2011 to 2012, 57.3 percent expect an increase in 2013 and 63 percent expect an increase in 2014. Private nonprofit organizations were also relatively positive about membership growth, with 53 percent reporting an increase in 2012, and more than 57 percent expecting further increases in 2013 (57.6 percent) and 2014 (57.2 percent). Among public organizations, 52.9 percent reported an increase in usage from 2011 to 2012, while 53.4 percent expect an increase in 2013 and less than half (49.5 percent) expect an increase in 2014.

Respondents from health clubs are typically the most optimistic about membership growth in most years of our Industry Report, and this year is no exception. Interestingly, though, there is generally a decrease in the percentage of these respondents who actually see the increases they project, from one year to the next. Thus, while 58.8 percent of health club respondents in 2012 projected that their memberships would increase from 2011 to 2012, in actuality, just 50.8 percent of 2013 respondents reported such an increase, while 15.9 percent actually reported a decrease in memberships. Health club respondents in 2013 continue to be the most optimistic about membership growth, with a full 70.5 percent expecting to see an increase from 2012 to 2013, and 69.6 percent projecting an increase in 2014. They were followed by respondents from YMCAs, where more than two-thirds project increases in 2013 (67.8 percent) and 2014 (67 percent). Usage at schools and school districts tends to be the most stable over time. Less than half of school respondents expect increases in 2013 (42.6 percent) and 2014 (38.7 percent).

Facilities & Construction Plans

For this year's survey, we asked respondents about the age of their main facility for the first time. For all facility types, the average is 27.5 years. Less than one in 10 (8.8 percent) respondents said their main facilities were five or fewer years old. Some 12.5 percent said their main facility was between six and 10 years old. One-fifth (20 percent) of respondents' main facilities are between 11 and 20 years old. Around 18.5 percent said their main facility is between 21 and 30 years old. And 40.2 percent said their main facility is 31 years or older.

On average, respondents from camps have the oldest facilities. This group reported their facilities are 41.8 years old, on average. More than two-thirds of camp respondents (66.7 percent) said their main facility was 36 years old or older. (See Figure 16.)

Respondents from health clubs reported having the newest facilities, though this group reported that their main facilities were 20 years old, on average.

Respondents from colleges and health clubs were the most likely to report that their main facility was five years old or newer. Some 14.7 percent of college respondents and 12.5 percent of health club respondents indicated that their main facility was this age.

There was very little change from 2012 in the percentage of respondents who indicate that they have construction plans over the next three years for their facilities. In 2012, 60.4 percent of respondents had plans for construction, and in 2013, that number rose slightly to 62.7 percent. The largest number of those with construction plans (45.5 percent) are aiming to renovate their facilities. Another 26.6 percent plan to add to their existing facilities, and 23.9 percent plan to build new facilities. (See Figure 17.)

Those with plans for construction expect to spend $4,139,000 on average, a decrease of 2 percent from 2012, when the average amount planned was $4,225,000.

Respondents from private for-profit facilities were the most likely organization type to report that they had plans for construction. Nearly seven in 10 (69.8 percent) of these respondents indicated they had plans for construction. Almost half (49.3 percent) were planning renovations. Another 29.3 percent were planning additions, and 10.9 percent were planning to build new.

While public organizations were the least likely to be planning construction (61.4 percent have such plans), they are the most likely to be planning to build new. Nearly one-quarter (24.4 percent) of public organization respondents said they had plans to build new facilities over the next three years. Another 26.2 percent will be making additions, and 44.6 percent are planning renovations.

Private nonprofit organizations fell in the middle, with 62.6 percent indicating they had plans for construction. The most common plan for these respondents is renovations, with 46.5 percent of private nonprofit respondents indicating they have plans to renovate. Another 26 percent are planning additions, and 22.9 percent will be building new facilities.

Public organizations have the largest amount budgeted for their construction plans—10.3 percent higher than the across-the-board average, at $4,564,000. They were followed by private for-profit organizations, which plan to spend $3,317,000, and private nonprofits, which plan to spend $2,986,000. (See Figure 18.)

When considered according to facility type, respondents from camps are the most likely to be planning construction of any kind. Some 85.3 percent of camps will be doing construction over the next three years, possibly due to the fact that camps also reported the oldest average facility age. Their construction plans are dominated by renovations, planned by 67.4 percent of camp respondents. Another 45 percent are planning to build new, and 43.4 percent are planning additions. That said, camp respondents are planning to spend a great deal less than the across-the-board average for their facility construction. Camp respondents projected they will spend $1,162,000, 71.9 percent less than the average for all respondents. (See Figure 19.)

After camps, respondents from parks were the most likely to be planning new facilities or renovations. Some 65.5 percent of parks respondents have construction plans, with 28.3 percent planning new construction, and 50.5 percent planning renovations. The average amount planned for construction among parks respondents is $4,139,000.

Respondents from colleges and universities have the highest amount budgeted for their construction plans—at $7,990,000. Some 59.2 percent of college respondents have plans for construction over the next three years, with 19.7 percent planning new facilities, 23.2 percent planning additions and 39.5 percent planning renovations.

After camps, health clubs plan to spend the smallest amount on their construction plans, at $2,154,000. Some 64.1 percent of health club respondents reported they had plans for construction, with 15.6 percent planning to build new, 17.2 percent planning additions and 48.4 percent planning renovations.

Schools were the least likely to be planning construction, though 53.7 percent indicated they have such plans. Nearly a quarter (23.1 percent) of schools respondents said they would be building new facilities. Another 19.8 percent will be making additions, and 35.1 percent will be making renovations to their existing facilities.

The top amenities included in respondents' facilities in 2013 include locker rooms (included by 60.9 percent of respondents), bleachers and seating (61.8 percent), classrooms and meeting rooms (59.3 percent), natural turf sports fields (56.8 percent) and concession areas (56.6 percent). (See Figure 20.)

Looking back to the 2009 Industry Report and comparing the percentage of respondents claiming specific amenities, we can rank the types of features that have seen the most expansion over the course of four years. Indoor sports courts have increased the most, by 6.9 percentage points from 2009 to 2013. They are followed by fitness centers (up 5.7 percent), synthetic turf sports fields (up 4.9 percent), bleachers and seating (up 4.8 percent) and exercise studios (up 4.3 percent).


Parks were the facility type that most commonly included: playgrounds (83 percent of parks respondents currently have them); park structures such as shelters and restrooms (81.7 percent); outdoor sports courts (70.5 percent); community centers (57.4 percent); splash play areas (29.9 percent); dog parks (29.4 percent); disc golf courses (28.9 percent); golf courses (21.8 percent); waterparks (15.9 percent); ice rinks (14.8 percent); and bike and BMX parks (9.5 percent).

Colleges were the facility type that most commonly included indoor sports courts (82.6 percent of college respondents currently have them), indoor running tracks (47.3 percent) and synthetic turf sports fields (36.7 percent).

Schools were the facility type that most commonly included locker rooms (89.8 percent of school respondents currently have them); bleachers and seating (86.8 percent); concessions (82.1 percent); natural turf sports fields (79.1 percent); outdoor running tracks (70.6 percent); and classrooms and meeting rooms (70.2 percent).

Health clubs were the facility type that most commonly included fitness centers (93.8 percent of health club respondents currently have them) and exercise studio rooms (79.7 percent).

YMCAs were the facility type most likely to include indoor aquatic facilities (63.2 percent of YMCA respondents currently have them) and childcare centers (60.7 percent).

Finally, camps were the facility type most likely to include open spaces (80 percent of camp respondents currently include them); trails (74.4 percent); campgrounds (55.2 percent); waterfronts, marinas and beaches (54.4 percent); outdoor aquatic facilities (47.2 percent); challenge courses (44 percent); climbing walls (36.6 percent); nature centers (27.2 percent); skiing and other winter recreation (13.6 percent) and amusements (7.2 percent).

Some 38.7 percent of all respondents indicated that they have plans to add features and amenities to their facilities over the next three years. Respondents from parks and from camps were the most likely to indicate they had such plans, while respondents from health clubs were the least likely to have such plans. (See Figure 21.)

Nearly half (48.9 percent) of parks are planning to add features to their facilities over the next three years. Their top five planned amenities include: dog parks (planned by 26.7 percent of park respondents with plans for additional features); splash play areas (26.2 percent); trails (24.4 percent); park structures (21.6 percent); and playgrounds (20.3 percent).

Slightly fewer camp respondents (46.5 percent) reported they had plans to add features over the next three years. Their top planned additions include: playgrounds (30 percent); climbing walls (25 percent); splash play areas (20 percent); trails (18.3 percent); and park structures (18.3 percent).

Staffing

There has been very little change from 2012 to 2013 in the number of people employed by the survey respondents' organizations. Likewise, there has not been much change in the number of various types of employees.

In 2012, respondents' organizations employed an average of 135.7 people, while in 2013, that average dropped slightly to 132.6. This includes 29.6 full-time workers, 36.7 part-time workers. 35.1 seasonal workers and 29.6 volunteers in 2013.

Public organizations employ the largest number of people overall, with an average of 138. Private nonprofits employ 124.4 on average, and private for-profit organizations employ 123.5 on average. Public organizations employed the largest number of full-time workers, with an average of 32. Private for-profit organizations employed the greatest number of part-time and seasonal workers, with an average of 41.9 and 43.8, respectively. As might be expected, private nonprofit organizations employed the largest number of volunteers, with 37.3, on average.

Looking at staffing by facility type, YMCAs employ the largest number of people overall, with an average of 214.6 staff members. However, the majority of these are either part-time (83.7) or volunteers (73.6). School districts have the highest number of full-time workers, with 64.2 on average. Parks and recreation respondents have the greatest number of seasonal workers, with 54.4 on average. (See Figure 22.)

Looking ahead, a majority of respondents report that they intend to maintain their current staff levels over the next several years. More than three-quarters (78.8 percent) of respondents will not alter the number of people working for their organizations. Some 14.9 percent report that they plan to add more staff, and 6.3 percent will reduce staff. (See Figure 23.)

Among those with plans to add staff, the average number of workers they will be adding is 26.9, with 8.2 volunteers, 7.4 seasonal staff members, 7.2 part-time staff members and 3.8 full-time staff.

Respondents from private for-profit organizations were the most likely to be planning staff additions. Some 20.5 percent of these respondents said they would be adding staff over the next several years. Some 16.3 percent of private nonprofit organizations and just 13.8 percent of public organizations will be adding staff. Public organizations were most likely to indicate they would be reducing staff, though only 7.1 percent reported that they had such plans.

Among those with plans to add staff, public organizations will be adding the largest number, with 30.1 on average, largely driven by an increase in volunteers (10.7) and seasonal workers (8.8 on average). They were followed by private for-profit organizations, which will add 25.5 workers on average, and private nonprofits, which will add 18.6.

Looking at the same data according to facility type, YMCAs are the most likely to be planning to staff up, with 18.5 percent of YMCA respondents indicating they would be adding staff. They were followed by colleges and universities, where 16.9 percent said they'd be adding staff, and community centers, where 16.7 percent will be adding staff. Schools and school districts were the most likely to report they would be reducing staff levels, though less than one in 10 (9.5 percent) indicated they had such plans.

A majority of respondents reported that they require certification for some of their staff members. Some 81.6 percent of all respondents do require certification. Among those who do not currently require certification, 18.1 percent indicated that they planned to do so in the future. (See Figure 24.)

Respondents from YMCAs were the most likely to require certification of staff members. In fact, nearly all (99.2 percent) of these respondents indicated that certification is required. They were followed by health clubs, where 87.5 percent require certification, and schools, where 85.5 percent require certification. Camp respondents were least likely to require certification, though a majority (79.8 percent) indicated that they do. (See Figure 25.)

The most common types of certifications required by all respondents include CPR/AED/First Aid certification, required by 88 percent of all respondents, background checks (80.4 percent), lifeguard certification (58.6 percent), aquatic management or pool operations certification (35.7 percent) and personal training and fitness certification (29.9 percent). (See Figure 26.)

Different certifications were more prevalent among specific types of facilities. The top four most common certifications for all respondents, for example, were most prevalent among YMCAs, where 99.2 percent required CPR/First Aid certification, 99.2 percent required background checks, 83.9 percent required lifeguard certification, and 58.5 percent required aquatic management and pool operations certification. YMCAs were also more likely than other facility types to require childcare/early childhood education certification (53.4 percent), likely because YMCAs are the most likely to include childcare and preschool at their facilities.

Parks respondents were more likely than other facility types to require pesticide application certification (43 percent), playground safety certification (37 percent), turf/grounds management certification (16.8 percent) or the Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) certification (17.7 percent).

Camps were more likely than other facility types to require foodservice certification (60.2 percent), climbing certification (38.8 percent) and security certification (12.6 percent).

Schools were more likely than other facility types to require coaching certifications (69.1 percent) and teaching certifications (67.1 percent).

Finally, colleges were more likely than others to require athletic trainer certifications (36.7 percent), and health clubs were more likely to require personal training certification (83.9 percent).

Programming

The vast majority (95.9 percent) of survey respondents offer programming of one kind or another. There was little change from last year in the top programs, which include holiday events and other special events (provided by 64.2 percent of respondents), fitness programs (61.4 percent), educational programs (58.9 percent), day camps and summer camps (55.2 percent) and youth sports teams (54.3 percent). (See Figure 27.)

For the most part, there was very little change year-over-year. Some 2.5 percent more in 2013 offer youth sports teams than did so in 2012, while 2.3 percent fewer set up festivals and concerts, and 2.2 percent fewer provide nutrition and diet counseling.

YMCAs are the facility type that most commonly offers most types of programming, with just a few exceptions. Parks are the most likely to offer sport training, and festivals and concerts. Health clubs are the most likely to offer fitness programs, mind-body/balance programs and personal training. And camps are the most likely to offer environmental education, water sports, camping, and climbing programs.

More than three in 10 (30.2 percent) respondents have plans to add additional programming options to their lineup over the next three years. The most commonly planned program additions include:

  1. Educational programs (planned by 28.4 percent of those who will be adding programs)
  2. Fitness programs (26.5 percent)
  3. Mind-body/balance programs like yoga and tai chi (25.5 percent)
  4. Day camps/summer camps (23.4 percent)
  5. Holiday events and other special events (22.4 percent)
  6. Environmental education (21.5 percent)
  7. Teen programming (21.4 percent)
  8. Programs for active older adults (20.9 percent)
  9. Sports tournaments or races (20 percent)
  10. Sport training (19.7 percent)

More respondents this year than last indicate they are planning to add: educational programs (28.4 percent in 2013 vs. 24.1 percent in 2012); mind-body/balance programs (25.5 percent vs. 22.7 percent); day camps and summer camps (23.4 percent vs. 20.9 percent); holiday events and other special events (22.4 percent vs. 20.7 percent); and sports tournaments and races (20 percent vs. 18.1 percent). Sport training appears in the top 10 planned programs this year, replacing adult sports teams, which appeared in the top 10 last year.

Private nonprofit organizations are most likely to be planning to add programs. Some 34.1 percent have such plans, and their top five planned programs include: day camps and summer camps; educational programs; fitness programs; mind-body/balance programs; and sport training.

Public organizations are second most likely to be planning to add programs, with 29.7 percent indicating they had such plans. Their top five planned programs include: educational programs; fitness programs; mind-body/balance programs; holiday events and other special events; and teen programming.

Private for-profit facilities were least likely to indicate they had plans to add programs over the next three years. Some 27 percent indicated they had such plans. Their top five planned programs include: educational programs; festivals and concerts; holiday events and other special events; fitness programs; and mind-body/balance.

For most programming types, community centers are the ones most likely to be planning to add such programs. There are a few exceptions. Parks are most likely to be planning to add: environmental education; sports tournaments or races; individual sports activities; and water sports. Colleges and universities are most likely to be planning to add: aquatic exercise programs. Health clubs are most likely to be planning to add nutrition/diet counseling; and daycare or preschool programs. YMCAs are most likely to be planning to add sport training; performing arts; youth sports teams; and camping. And camps are most likely to be planning to add: festivals and concerts; and climbing programs.

Challenges & Issues of Concern

While the economy continues to be the top challenge for most of our respondents, there are other issues of concern driving their decision-making and facility management decisions. As in past years, equipment and facility maintenance is the top current concern for respondents. Some 56.1 percent listed this as a top concern now. (See Figure 28.)

Many of the concerns related to equipment and facility maintenance tie back in with economic and budgetary concerns. For many respondents, the budgets to keep their facilities in top working order are simply not there.

"Delaying maintenance and equipment replacement while at the same time still increasing fees does not lead to an increase in new customers and may impact the existing customer base," one respondent said. "The cost to catch up or begin renovation projects will push the timeline on all projects further into the future."

Looking back at the relative age of many of our respondents' facilities, it is no wonder that so many are concerned with maintenance. As more than one reader noted, even after just 12 to 15 years of operations, facilities can begin to show their age, while routine facility maintenance grows into a larger portion of operating expenses.

"As the facilities age, and equipment and furnishings wear out," another reader noted, "the annual cost to maintain a safe and aesthetically pleasing environment increases without added operation monies."

Staffing issues are the second most commonly listed concern among respondents, with 43.2 percent indicating it is a concern. In past years, staffing concerns have largely been driven by worries about turnover, and over the past few years of the economic downturn, by a lack of funding to hire needed staff. Others commonly worry about the ability to find high-quality staff. These concerns are still dominant, but looking through respondents' comments in 2013, many are concerned about the impact of health care legislation, including concerns about the cost of providing health care, as well as concerns about the definition of part-time employees, which create related problems. Worries about potential increases in minimum wage also appeared among reader comments.

"As Obamacare sets in, we need to reduce full-time staff and get more out of any full-time staff members," one respondent wrote. "Our city is raising water and electricity rates, taxes are increasing, and the only way to negate the impact of those cost increases is to cut payroll and benefit expenditure."

Of course, many of the issues of concern go hand-in-hand. Equipment and facility maintenance becomes an even greater issue with inadequate staffing, and these problems can lead to safety and risk management issues, as well as an impact on public perception of the facility, which can affect participation.

There was not much difference in the top concerns of respondents when those numbers are broken down by organization type. The top five were the same for all organization types, with private organizations (both for-profit and nonprofit) placing slightly higher emphasis on marketing and increasing participation than was the case for public organizations. Public organizations were more likely than others to be concerned about equipment and facility maintenance, staffing issues, youth fitness/wellness, environmental and conservation issues, and accessibility and availability. Private for-profit organizations were more concerned than others about legislative issues and older adult fitness and wellness. Private nonprofit organizations were more concerned than others about marketing and increasing participation; safety and risk management; creating new/innovative programming and general fitness/wellness.

There was some degree of variance between the top concerns among different types of facilities. Respondents from parks were more likely than others to list staffing issues, and accessibility and availability among their top concerns. Colleges and universities were more likely to list safety/risk management. Schools and school districts were more likely to list equipment/facility maintenance, and legislative issues. Health clubs were more likely to list general fitness and wellness. YMCAs were more likely to list marketing/increasing participation; creating new and innovative programming; and youth fitness/wellness. Camps were more likely to list environmental and conservation issues. And community centers were more likely to list older adult fitness/wellness.



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