Feature Article - June 2010
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What's Happening in Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facilities


f you watch the stock market on a daily—or even hourly—basis, you've likely been experiencing a bit of a roller coaster as various economic reports come in and affect those numbers. But in a broad sense, many numbers are starting to roll in that seem to indicate a slow return to economic growth.

While unemployment still stands at 9.9 percent—drearily close to the emotionally fraught double-digit rates—other indicators are more positive. (And, of course, unemployment is a lagging indicator, being one of the last numbers to show improvement.) Retail sales rose slightly, by 0.4 percent, in April—their seventh straight increase, according to the Commerce Department. And inventories climbed 0.4 percent in March—the third straight month of increase, the Commerce Department reported.

Most analysts are still predicting a drawn-out recovery, though there are a few standouts. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco recently surprised everyone, predicting a quick economic rebound.

Whether you choose to see the economic glass as half full or half empty though, there is one thing we do know—we can't really know how quickly the economy will recover until it has actually done so. Economists may be smart, but they're not fortune-tellers.

And this volatility and uncertainty is certainly revealed in the responses to our annual State of the Industry Survey. The results are a mixed bag of positive and negative expectations, combined with a dash of worry and a sprinkling of hope.

Survey Methodology

This report is based on a survey conducted for Recreation Management by Signet Research Inc., an independent research company. An e-mail was broadcast and respondents were invited to participate on the Web site. From the launch of the survey on Feb. 10, 2010 to the closing of the survey on Feb. 25, 2,230 returns were received. The findings of this survey may be accepted as accurate, at a 95 percent confidence level, within a sampling tolerance of approximately +/- 2.1 percent.

This year's survey drew a rapid and impressive response—with 2,230 full responses gleaned in less than a month. We thank all of the readers and respondents who took the time to fill out our extensive 40-question survey. Without your help, we would not be able to provide this detailed look behind the scenes at managed recreation, sports and fitness facilities.

And while many areas of this market are seeing harder times than others—one has only to look at the double-digit unemployment that still plagues some states, as well as the dire straits many city and state governments find themselves in—there is a general overall sense that the business will begin to see stability and even recovery within the next couple of years, with some areas returning to growth faster than others.