Trends in Sports & Recreation Centers

Community and private recreation and sports centers were represented by 12% of the respondents to the Industry Report survey, with 10.3% of all respondents reporting from community recreation and sports centers, and 1.7% from private recreation and sports centers.

More than three-quarters of rec center respondents (79.5%) said they were with public or governmental organizations. Another 11.1% were with private, nonprofit facilities, and 9.4% were with private, for-profit facilities. 

Respondents from rec centers were most likely to be located in the West or Midwest, with 29.1% of these respondents reporting from the Western U.S., and another 26.6% reporting from the Midwest. Another 19% were from the South Atlantic, while 12.7% were from both the Northeast and the South Central region of the U.S.

Rec center respondents were most likely to work in suburban communities, with more than half (53.2%) indicating they were located in the suburbs. Another 32.9% were from urban communities, and 13.9% were located in rural areas.

Rec center respondents in 2024 were slightly less likely to report that they had partnered with other organizations. Some 85.6% of rec center respondents in 2024 said they had formed partnerships, down from 89% in 2023. The most common partners for rec centers in 2024 were local schools (66%), nonprofit organizations (63.9%), local government (55.7%) and corporations and local businesses (53.6%). 

Revenues & Expenditures

Nearly two-thirds (64.1%) of rec center respondents said their revenues increased from 2022 to 2023. Another 25.6% reported no change, and 10.3% said their revenues in 2023 were lower than in 2022.

Looking forward, 74% of rec center respondents are expecting their revenues to increase in 2024, and 67.6% are anticipating higher revenues in 2025. Some 6.5% of rec center respondents are expecting lower revenues in 2024, and just 4.1% are expecting revenues to decrease in 2025.

In 2024, rec center respondents spent an average of $4,475,000 on their annual operating expenses, with a median cost of $1.2 million.

Looking forward, rec center respondents expect their median operating cost to increase to $1,550,000 in 2024 and $1.6 million in 2025. 

Some 84.9% of rec center respondents in 2024 said they had taken action to reduce their operating costs over the past year, representing no change from 2023. The most common measures rec center respondents had turned to in order to reduce their operating costs were increasing fees (52.1%), improving energy efficiency (39.7%) and putting construction and renovation plans on hold (28.8%). 

Rec Center Facilities 

Some 60.2% of rec center respondents in 2024 said they had plans for construction over the next few years, up from 58.1% in 2023. Some 40.9% said they were planning renovations to their existing facilities, while 28.4% were planning additions, and 29.5% were planning new construction. The median construction budget for rec center respondents was $1,125,000.

The features most commonly included in rec center respondents’ facilities include classrooms and meeting rooms, playgrounds, community or multipurpose centers, bleachers and seating, exercise studio rooms, Wi-Fi services, fitness centers, locker rooms, indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball, and open spaces such as gardens and natural areas.  

Some 45.5% of rec center respondents in 2024 said they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next few years, down from 48% in 2023. 

The most commonly planned additions were:

  1. Fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (26% of rec center respondents with plans to add features to their facilities said they would add outdoor fitness)
  2. Splash play areas (22%)
  3. Park shelters (22%)
  4. Park restroom structures (18%)
  5. Playgrounds (16%)
  6. Community gardens (16%)
  7. Indoor sports courts (16%)