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


Despite the predominance of partnerships, most organization types saw a drop in the percentage of respondents that form partnerships with them. These include local schools, which fell from 58.4 percent last year to 56.2 percent this year; as well as local government (50.5 percent to 47.2 percent), nonprofit organizations (44.5 percent to 43.5 percent), state government (35 percent to 33 percent), corporate/local businesses (32.6 percent to 31.5 percent), federal government (21.1 percent to 20.7 percent), health care and medical facilities (20.1 percent to 19.5 percent), YMCAs and similar facilities (19.7 percent to 18.6 percent), military (13.8 percent to 12.7 percent) and private health clubs (5.1 percent to 5 percent).

Only colleges and universities saw an increase in the number of respondents that form partnerships with them. Some 34.7 percent of respondents in 2012 said they partner with colleges and universities, compared with 32.3 percent in 2011.

There were some changes this year for specific facility types, in terms of their tendency to form partnerships with outside organizations. Respondents from colleges and universities were slightly more likely to report that they partner with other organizations. In 2011, 78.3 percent of college respondents said they partnered, while in 2012, 83.6 percent indicated that they do so. Parks and recreation respondents also saw a slight increase, from 94.2 percent in 2011 to 94.6 percent in 2012. And YMCAs, always the facility most likely to form outside partnerships, also saw a slight increase, to 99 percent from 98.4 percent in 2011.

Facility types that saw a decrease in their tendency to form partnerships with other organizations included schools and school districts (down to 88 percent from 90.9 percent in 2011); health clubs (down to 73.6 percent from 80.3 percent in 2011); camps (down to 70.7 percent, from 75 percent in 2011); and community sports and recreation centers (down to 86.1 percent from 87 percent in 2011). Still, a substantial majority of respondents from all facility types do partner with other types of organizations. (See Figure 8.)

For the first time in 2012, the survey asked respondents to identify their primary audience for their main facility. The largest percentage of respondents—38.4 percent—indicated that they serve all ages. This was followed by adults age 19 to 64 (17 percent), college students (16.7 percent) and children age 4 to 12 (16.2 percent). Fewer respondents identified as their primary audience teens age 13 to 18 (9 percent) and seniors age 65 and older (2.5 percent). Just 0.2 percent of respondents said their primary audience is infants and toddlers younger than 4. (See Figure 9.)

Last year's Industry Report saw a slight easing in respondents' concerns about the economic downturn and its impact on their facilities. While facilities definitely still seem to be recovering, in terms of budgets and revenues, this year brought another increase in respondents reporting a more stable situation in terms of budgets and revenues.