Feature Article - June 2008
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Town and Country

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

As with last year's survey, this year's study shows that the concentration of programs, facilities and offerings occurs in the urban and suburban areas. More money is planned for new facilities and renovations in these areas, and they also are more likely to be planning to add a wide range of amenities and programs.

Suburban facilities were most heavily represented in the survey: 43.8 percent of respondents said they worked for suburban organizations. These were followed by rural organizations, represented by 31.7 percent of respondents. Urban facilities were represented by nearly a quarter (24.5 percent) of respondents.

More than two-thirds (66.7 percent) of urban respondents said they represented public organizations, compared to 61.1 percent of suburban respondents and 58.8 percent of rural respondents. Private for-profit and private nonprofit organizations were more heavily represented by rural organizations. Some 13.2 percent of rural respondents were from private for-profit organizations, compared to 12 percent of suburban respondents and 9.6 percent of urban respondents. And 20 percent of rural respondents worked for private nonprofit organizations, compared to 17.2 percent of suburban and 16 percent of urban respondents.

Urban respondents were most likely to represent parks and recreation departments. More than 46 percent of respondents in this category said they were from parks and recreation departments or community recreation and sports centers. This category was followed by colleges and universities. Just under 19 percent of urban respondents were from colleges and universities. Another 11 percent said they were from health, fitness and sports clubs; while 6.3 percent represented YMCAs, YWCAs and JCCs.

Less than a third (28.8 percent) of rural respondents represented parks and recreation departments—still the largest number of respondents in the category, but a much smaller percentage than for urban and suburban facilities. Another 14.4 percent of respondents in this category were from colleges and universities, which was followed by campgrounds, RV parks and private camps, represented by 14.2 percent of rural respondents. For obvious reasons, camping-related facilities are far more heavily concentrated in rural areas. This category was followed by schools and school districts, represented by 13.5 percent of rural respondents, and health clubs, represented by 11.7 percent of respondents in this category. Rural respondents were also more likely than urban and suburban respondents to be from golf clubs and country clubs, and resorts and resort hotels, while they were less likely to represent YMCAs, military installations and ice rinks.

Figure 30: Type of Facility, by Community Type
Parks & Rec/Community Rec/Sports Ctrs46.1%47.1%28.8%
Health/Fitness/Sports Club, Racquet/Tennis Club/ Corp./Private Rec/Sports Clubs11.0%15.0%11.7%
School/School Dist5.6%6.8%13.5%
Campground/RV Park/Youth/Private Camp1.9%3.4%14.2%
Military Installation3.1%3.5%1.9%
Golf/Country Club1.9%2.8%3.9%
Resort/Resort Hotel1.3%0.9%3.7%
Waterpark/Theme/ Amusement Park1.0%2.1%1.1%
Ice Rink1.3%1.3%0.3%

Suburban respondents crossed the divide between the facility types, often falling on the side of urban facilities in terms of representation. Nearly half (47.1 percent) of suburban respondents represented parks and recreation departments. This category was followed by health clubs, represented by 15 percent of suburban respondents, and colleges and universities, represented by just over 10 percent. Suburban respondents had similar numbers to urban respondents when it came to representation of schools and school districts, campgrounds and RV parks, military installations, resorts and resort hotels, and ice rinks. (See Figure 30.)