Feature Article - June 2012
Find a printable version here

2012 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


There was very little change in the average numbers of facilities managed by respondents this year. Well over half (58.8 percent) manage three or fewer facilities, with more than a third (35.6 percent) indicating that they manage just a single facility. Nearly one in five respondents (17.7 percent) manage 10 or more facilities. Another quarter (23.4 percent) manage between four and nine facilities. (See Figure 5.)

As in past surveys, respondents from parks and recreation organizations, as well as school and school district respondents, manage the largest number of facilities on average. (See Figure 6.) These numbers saw little change from last year, with parks and recreation respondents reporting that they manage 10.4 facilities on average (compared with 10.1 in 2011), and school/school district respondents indicating they manage 8.6 facilities on average (compared with 9.8 in 2011).

Health club respondents are managing a larger number of facilities on average than this same group reported last year. Health club respondents reported that they manage 4.1 facilities on average (compared with 2.8 in 2011).

Respondents from YMCAs, camps and community recreation and sports centers indicated that they are managing fewer facilities in 2012 when compared with 2011. YMCA respondents reported that they manage an average of 2.3 facilities, compared with 3.7 last year. Respondents from camps said they are managing 2.5 facilities on average, compared with 3 in 2011. And, community recreation and sports center respondents are managing an average of 2.7 facilities, compared with 3.1 last year.

There was virtually no change for respondents from colleges and universities, who report that they manage an average of 3.7 facilities, compared with 3.9 in 2011.

Respondents from urban communities manage the largest number of facilities, as one might expect, with respondents from rural communities managing the smallest number. On average, urban respondents manage 8.5 facilities, while suburban respondents manage 7.2 and rural respondents manage five. Nearly a quarter (23.9 percent) of urban respondents manage 10 or more facilities, compared with 19.3 percent of suburban respondents and 11.4 percent of rural respondents. Conversely, 63.6 percent of rural respondents reported that they manage three or fewer facilities, compared with 57.3 percent of suburban respondents and 55.1 percent of urban respondents.

A majority of respondents—86.1 percent—indicated that they form partnerships with other organizations. This is an increase from last year, when 85.1 percent said they form such partnerships. There has been little change in the most prominent partners found among our respondents. The most common—local schools—are partners to well over half (56.2 percent) of the survey respondents. Other common partners include local government (47.2 percent), nonprofit organizations (43.5 percent), colleges and universities (34.7 percent) and state government (33 percent). (See Figure 7.)