Feature Article - June 2008
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Here, There and Everywhere

The Northeast was also the most likely region to include synthetic turf fields for sports like football, soccer and baseball. In this region, 12.8 percent of respondents said they included synthetic turf fields in their facility, well ahead of the Midwest, where only 6.2 percent indicated that their facilities included synthetic turf. Respondents in the Northeast were also the most likely to be planning to add more synthetic turf fields. In fact, 12.8 percent indicated that they were planning such an addition over the next three years, followed closely by the West, where 12.6 percent of respondents indicated they were planning such an addition. In the Northeast, it is possible that such growth in the use of synthetic fields is driven by the higher population density, which could possibly indicate the need to program more events on the available athletic fields. In the West, we could speculate that water shortages and pesticide bans could be driving such increases as well.

Interestingly, disc golf seemed most popular in the Midwest, where 16.7 percent of respondents indicated their facilities included such an amenity. The Northeast was the least likely to include disc golf. Respondents from the Midwest were also more likely than those in other regions to be planning to add disc golf courses. Nearly 10 percent indicated they had such plans within the next three years.

The Midwestern facilities were also more likely to include ice rinks. Some 16.5 percent of respondents in this region indicated their facilities include ice rinks, compared to just 1.6 percent in the South Atlantic—again, a difference that makes sense when you look at a comparison of sun belt versus snow belt activities.

Another difference that might be explained by a longer winter is the fact that the Midwest was more likely than other regions to offer indoor running tracks. More than a quarter (26.3 percent) of Midwestern respondents indicated that their facilities included such an amenity. This makes indoor track running and walking far more prevalent in the Midwest than in the South Atlantic, where only 9.1 percent offer indoor running, and the West, where just 11.3 percent offer this amenity.

Indoor aquatics, splash play elements and waterparks were also most prevalent among Midwestern respondents.

Challenge courses were most popular among respondents in the South Atlantic region, where 14.7 percent indicated their facilities already include such an amenity, and another 10.1 percent are planning to add it. Trails and open spaces like gardens are also more likely to be found here (45.9 percent) than, say, in the neighboring South Central region, where just over a third include such an amenity. The same goes for waterfronts and marinas, another difference that can be easily explained by geography, the South Atlantic states including so much oceanfront property.

When it comes to planned amenities, respondents from the South Atlantic states were most likely to be planning to add playgrounds (17.3 percent of respondents in the region had such plans), dog parks (14.1 percent), skateparks (12 percent) and natural turf sports fields (10.9 percent).

Once again reflecting geographical differences, the hot and sunny South Central region was the most likely to include outdoor aquatic facilities. Nearly 40 percent of respondents in the region reported their facilities included such an amenity. Aquatics is obviously big in the South Central region, as this area is more likely than others to be planning to add both outdoor aquatics (7.1 percent of respondents here indicated they have such plans) and indoor aquatic facilities (10 percent), over the next three years.

Skateparks were by far most prevalent in the West, where 28.5 percent of respondents indicated they included such an amenity. Again, this makes sense when you consider that modern skateboarding really got its start in California.

Climbing walls were also most commonly found among respondents reporting from the West. Some 21.3 percent indicated their facilities included climbing walls. They were also the most likely to be planning to add climbing walls.

The West was also the most likely to include dog parks (19.5 percent of respondents in the West indicated they included this amenity), as well as campgrounds (17.9 percent), and it is the region where the most splash play areas are planned for the next three years.