Feature Article - June 2008
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A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facilities


Probably not terribly surprising at any time, but especially in the midst of what some economists have labeled a recession, the top concern across the board for respondents was budgetary issues. More than 60 percent said the budget was one of their top current concerns, and it was also the most commonly projected concern over the next three years.

While few saw their revenue decreasing over the next several years, many expected their revenues to remain the same. At the same time, most were expecting increases in their costs. On average, respondents are expecting their annual operating expenditures to grow by 12.1 percent between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2009.

The number of respondents who charge a fee for using their facilities or becoming a member was virtually unchanged from last year. While 62.4 percent said they currently charge such a fee, 37.6 percent said there is no fee to use their facilities. (See Figure 9.)

YMCAs, YWCAs and JCCs were the most likely to charge a fee for membership or usage, with 97.3 percent of respondents from this category reporting that they do so. Health and fitness clubs were also highly likely to charge a fee for usage or membership, with 95.8 percent reporting such a fee.

Colleges and universities, and parks and recreation departments reported a similar incidence of usage fees, with 62.5 percent of college respondents and 62.7 percent of park and recreation respondents reporting that they charge a membership or usage fees.

Schools and school districts were the least likely to report charging a fee for membership or usage. Nearly three-quarters, (74.7 percent) of respondents in this category reported that they do not charge such a fee.

Last year, 48.5 percent of respondents anticipated increasing their fees from 2006 to 2007. This year, only 26.6 percent actually reported such an increase. Another 71.2 percent said their fees had remained unchanged for the year, and 2.2 percent said their fees had actually decreased.

More are projecting their fees to increase over the next couple of years, with 31.9 percent expecting a fee increase from 2007 to 2008, and 45.9 percent projecting an increase between 2008 and 2009.