Feature Article - June 2007
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Urban Centers, Suburban Growth and Rural Recreation

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

When the responses to the survey are analyzed according to different types of communities-from the largest urban cityscape to the most rural open areas-different trends emerge. Across all types of communities, it is the suburban areas that seem to have the most of all types of recreation opportunities, as well as the greatest increases in people using their facilities, the highest budgets and the most different kinds of amenities and programs.

Nearly 43 percent of respondents said they are from suburban communities. Nearly half of all respondents from parks and recreation departments said they worked in suburban communities. Respondents working for YMCAs, health clubs and sports clubs also were much more likely to be from suburban communities. Just under 45 percent of respondents from military installations also said they worked in suburban communities.

The second largest group of respondents-approximately one-third-said they were from facilities in rural areas. These facilities represented more than a quarter of all respondents from parks and recreation departments, as well as a quarter of all college and university respondents. Respondents working for schools and school districts, as well as campgrounds, private camps and RV parks were much more likely to be from rural areas than urban or suburban communities. Resorts and resort hotels also were more likely to be in rural communities.

Slightly more than a quarter of respondents work for facilities in urban areas. Respondents from colleges and universities were most likely to be in urban areas, with just over 42 percent of respondents from these types of facilities reporting they were in an urban community. (See Figure 32.)

Respondents in suburban areas were most likely to charge a fee for membership or usage of their facilities. In these communities, more than 70 percent said they charge a fee. At the other end of the spectrum, just slightly more than half of respondents in rural areas charge a fee for membership or usage. This may reflect a greater predominance of traditional parks-and less inclusion of indoor facilities like fitness and sports centers where membership might be required-in rural communities. Urban facilities fell somewhere in between, with nearly 63 percent of these respondents charging a fee.