Feature Article - June 2008
Find a printable version here


Here, There and Everywhere

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

The U.S. Census Bureau projects populations to grow fastest in the South and the West over the next 20-some years, and in our survey these regions were the most likely to report growth in the number of people using their facilities, as well as their revenues and costs. But with the economic downturn, and the crunch in housing costs and resulting decrease in tax revenues, many in these same regions are concerned about maintaining their service levels and their existing facilities as their budgets face cuts.

Once again in this year's survey, the population distribution of respondents was similar to U.S. Census data from the year 2000, again with an exception for the Midwest, which was represented by more respondents than other regions. (See Figure 25.)

Between 2000 and 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau projects populations to grow fastest in the South, driven largely by growth in the South Atlantic states, including Florida, where population is projected to grow by 79.5 percent, putting Florida ahead of New York as the third largest state in the country. North Carolina and Georgia are also projected to be among the top 10 fastest-growing states. Growth in the South Central region will be driven by the state of Texas' growing population, which is projected to be the fourth fastest, increasing its population by nearly 60 percent over the next 20-plus years.

The Census Bureau also projects faster population growth in the West. Nevada and Arizona are projected to be the top two fastest-growing states, increasing their populations by 114.3 percent and by 108.8 percent, respectively, between 2000 and 2030. Other Western states among the top 10 fastest-growing states include Utah, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. And of course, California will remain the most populous state, growing at a rate of 37.1 percent over the next 20-plus years.

Less population growth is expected in the Northeast and Midwest, so that the distribution of the U.S. population will change by 2030 to be even more heavily concentrated in the South and the West, with 39.4 percent of U.S. residents residing in the South (21.5 percent of those in the South Atlantic states), 25.3 percent residing in the West, 19.4 percent in the Midwest, and 15.9 percent in the Northeast.

As populations grow across Southern and Western states, recreation, fitness and sports facilities will have to adjust to increasing participation.