Feature Article - June 2009
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A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities

The highest projected increases in aquatic operating expenditures between 2008 and 2010 were to be found among YMCAs, whose respondents projected an increase of 16.7 percent; parks and recreation respondents, projecting an increase of 14.6 percent; and health clubs, projecting a 12.8 percent increase. Interestingly, these three types of facilities also reported the three highest operating budget amounts for aquatics for each year. For YMCAs, the fiscal 2008 aquatic operating expenditures were 37.4 percent higher than average, and for parks they were 17.4 percent higher. On the other hand, while health clubs reported higher aquatic operating expenditures than respondents from schools, colleges and camps, they still spent 27 percent less than the across-the-board average.

While no facilities projected their aquatic operating expenditures to decrease in fiscal 2009, those from colleges and universities, schools and school districts, and camps and campgrounds all projected a slight decrease in fiscal 2010, though their fiscal 2010 expenditures are still projected to be higher than 2008.

When it comes to revenues for these facilities, more than half of respondents indicated that they expect no change in revenues from 2007 to 2010. While 36.6 percent reported an increase in 2008 versus 2007, slightly fewer (31.8 percent) expect to see an increase in 2009, and just under a third (32.8 percent) expect an increase in 2010. On the other hand, 11.7 percent reported a drop in 2008, and 15.1 percent expect to see a decrease in 2009.

Adding More Fun to the Water

When it comes to improving the attendance at your pool, adding more fun to the water can really boost your attendance—and your revenues. This probably explains why so many respondents across the board plan to add splash play areas, and why so many aquatic respondents indicate that they have plans to add fun features like slides and play structures to their pools in the next three years.

Splash play areas are the top planned addition for respondents of all types, 10.2 percent of whom indicated they have plans to add spray parks.

"Splash pads are a no-brainer," said Randy Mendioroz, principal and founder of Aquatic Design Group. "You don't have to staff them, or you just need someone more like a ride attendant. No lifeguards are needed because there's no standing water."

Among respondents who include aquatic features and have plans to add features in the next three years:

  • 30.5 percent plan to add water play structures
  • 26.4 percent plan to add waterslides
  • 23.8 percent plan to add zero-depth entry
  • 16.1 percent plan to add lazy rivers
  • 3.5 percent plan to add wave pools