Feature Article - June 2012
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2012 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


This year's survey captured more responses from suburban and rural communities than last year, while fewer respondents reported from urban communities. Still claiming the largest portion of survey respondents, 41.2 percent said they worked in suburban communities. Another third (33.5 percent) were from rural communities. A quarter (25.3 percent) were from urban areas. (See Figure 2.)

More respondents indicated they worked for public organizations in 2012 than in 2011, while fewer hailed from private, for-profit organizations. Well over two-thirds—67.7 percent—said they worked for public organizations. About two out of 10 (20.4 percent) work for private nonprofits, and around one in 10 (11.1 percent) said they worked for private for-profit organizations. (See Figure 3.)

The dominance of public organizations is reflected in the type of facility respondents reported from. The largest group—37.8 percent—hailed from parks and recreation agencies and departments. (See Figure 4.) Facility types that saw a larger percentage of respondents in 2012 included colleges and universities (19.2 percent vs. 16.5 percent in 2011); schools and school districts (10.5 percent vs. 7.4 percent); golf facilities and country clubs (2.7 percent vs. 2.2 percent); and military installations (2 percent vs. 1.5 percent).

(For more information on trends in parks and recreation, click here. Trends in colleges and universities can be found here; and trends in schools and school districts can be found here.)

Conversely, there was a slight drop in participants from community and private recreation and sports centers (6.2 percent vs. 7.4 percent in 2012); campgrounds, RV parks, private camps and youth camps (5.7 percent vs. 7.7 percent); YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs (5 percent vs. 6.1 percent); resorts and resort hotels (1.7 percent vs. 2.5 percent); waterparks, theme parks and amusement parks (1.6 percent vs. 1.9 percent).

(Trends in YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs can be found here.)

Other facility types showed virtually no change, with 3.6 percent of respondents coming from sports, health or fitness clubs (unchanged from 2011); and less than 1 percent each from ice rinks (0.6 percent vs. 0.5 percent in 2011); stadiums, arenas and tracks (0.4 percent vs. 0.3 percent); corporate recreation and sports centers (0.4 percent vs. 0.3 percent); and racquet or tennis clubs (0.3 percent vs. 0.4 percent).

(To read more about trends in health and fitness clubs, click here.)

Certain types of facilities were more likely to be found in urban, suburban and rural areas. Colleges, for example, were most likely to be in urban areas, with more than a third (36.4 percent) of college respondents. Parks, health clubs, YMCAs and community sports and recreation centers were most likely to be found in suburban areas. Some 44.3 percent of park respondents, 39.7 percent of health clubs, 44.6 percent of YMCAs and 54 percent of community recreation center respondents indicated they were located in a suburban area. Finally, schools and school districts, as well as campgrounds, private and youth camps and RV parks were most likely to be found in rural areas. More than half (50.9 percent) of school respondents and more than two-thirds (67.2 percent) of camp respondents said they were located in rural areas.