Feature Article - June 2012
Find a printable version here

Aquatics

A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities


When it comes to the use of the aquatic facilities covered by the survey, slightly more than half of respondents (55.6 percent) said their pools were used for a combination of leisure and recreation purposes and competition purposes. Another 38.7 percent said their aquatic facilities were for leisure and recreation only. And just 1.8 percent said their pools were used only for competition. (See Figure 36.)

Respondents from camps were the most likely to report that their pools were for leisure only. Some 87.5 percent of camps indicated that there are no formal competitions held at their pools. They were followed by health clubs, 80 percent of whom said their pools were for leisure and recreation only. Schools and school districts were least likely to indicate that their pools were for leisure and recreation. Just 4.2 percent of these respondents said their pools were for recreation only.

On the other hand, schools and school districts were more likely than other respondents to indicate that their pools were used for competition only. Some 22.9 percent of schools said their pools were for competition. They were followed by colleges and universities, 2.8 percent of whom said their pools were for competition, and parks departments, at 0.2 percent. No respondents from health clubs, YMCAs, camp facilities or community sports and recreation centers said their pools were used only for competition.

Aquatics and Finances

After a drop of 2.3 percent in aquatic operating expenditures from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2010, reported in the 2011 State of the Industry Report, this year shows that operating expenditures have recovered and grown, and are expected to continue to increase over the next two years. In 2011, respondents report that their aquatic operating expenditures increased by 5.2 percent, from $422,000 in fiscal 2010 to $444,000 in fiscal 2011. Further increases are expected in 2012 and 2013, ultimately leading to a rise of 19.2 percent from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2013. (See Figure 37.)

In all three years covered by the 2012 survey, parks, YMCAs and community recreation and sports centers reported the highest average operating expenditures. In fiscal 2011, parks had an average operating budget 31.8 percent higher than the across-the-board average, at $585,000. YMCAs' average operating expenditure was 19.1 percent higher than the across-the-board average, at $529,000. Community centers had an operating budget 17.1 percent higher than the across-the-board average. The lowest average operating expenditure in 2011 was seen among camp respondents, whose average operating budget was 75.9 percent lower than the across-the-board average, at $107,000.

By 2013, YMCAs take the top position in terms of aquatic operating budget, with an average expenditure 32 percent higher than the average for all facility types, at $664,000. They are followed by parks (27.2 percent higher than the average for all facilities) and community centers (7.8 percent higher). In 2012 and 2013, respondents from schools and school districts reported the lowest expected average operating budget for aquatics. In 2012, their projected average operating expenditure is 70.3 percent lower than the average for all facility types. And in 2013, that spread increases to 72 percent.

When considered in terms of the communities in which they are located, operating budgets are much higher in urban communities, while rural communities report much lower operating budgets. The average operating budget in fiscal 2011 for urban communities was 42.6 percent higher than the average for all community types, and 113 percent higher than the average operating expenditure reported by rural communities.

Over time, the difference grows smaller, and by 2013, urban communities reported a projected average operating budget that is 94.6 percent higher than the average projected by rural respondents. This is accounted for by a more rapid increase in operating costs among rural communities than urban communities. Rural communities expect their average operating costs for aquatics to increase by 17.8 percent from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2013. They are followed by suburban respondents, who expect a 15.7 percent increase, and urban respondents, who expect a 7.6 percent increase.