Feature Article - June 2012
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Regional Information

A Look at Regional Trends


In 2011's report, we found that the majority of regions (with the exception of the Northeast) were planning to spend less on construction plans than they had budgeted in 2010. This year's results saw a drop in planned construction spending among respondents in the South Atlantic, where we see a 12.6 percent decrease in construction budgets from $4,437,000 in 2011 to $3,879,000 in 2012. The Northeast also reported a slight, 0.5 percent decrease in construction spending in this time period. On the other hand, increases of 9 percent and higher were reported in the other three regions, from the relatively modest 9.5 percent increase reported in the Midwest, to 15.5 percent in the West, up to a dramatic 48.1 percent increase in construction spending among respondents in the South Central region. (See Figure 33.)

The types of features and amenities more likely to be found in some regions than others paint an interesting picture of the way the recreation, sports and fitness landscapes varies across the country. They also reflect the types of facilities that are more likely to be found in these regions.

For example, respondents in the Midwest, who were far more likely than respondents in other regions to indicate that they worked for schools and school districts, were also most likely to report that their facilities currently include locker rooms (64.1 percent of respondents), concession areas (61 percent), outdoor running tracks (28.8 percent) and indoor running tracks (27.9 percent). Respondents in this region also were more likely than others to report that they included a disc golf course (17.8 percent), a nature center (12.8 percent) or a waterpark (11 percent).

Respondents in the South Atlantic, on the other hand, who were among those most likely (along with the West) to be from parks organizations were also most likely to indicate that their facilities include classrooms and meeting rooms (64.6 percent), bleachers and seating (61.5 percent), playgrounds (55.9 percent), open spaces such as natural areas and gardens (55.7 percent), park structures such as shelters and restroom buildings (56.2 percent), exercise studios (48 percent), trails (47 percent), waterfronts and marinas (24.8 percent), dog parks (19.3 percent) and challenge courses (9.8 percent).

Respondents from the West, who were most likely to be from park districts, as well as health clubs, camps and community recreation and sports centers, were also most likely to indicate that their facilities included: aquatic facilities, including outdoor aquatics (35.6 percent), indoor aquatics (31 percent) and splash play areas (19.5 percent). Respondents in the West also were most likely to indicate that their facilities included a climbing wall (19.5 percent), a skatepark (25 percent) or a golf course (17.5 percent).


In the Northeast, where respondents were more likely than those in other regions to be from colleges and universities, facilities were more likely than those in other regions to include outdoor sports courts (63.5 percent), natural turf sports fields (56.8 percent), synthetic turf sports fields (29 percent), ice rinks (15.9 percent) or skiing and other winter recreation amenities (9.5 percent).

Respondents in the South Central region, where colleges and universities also were more common, were most likely to report that their facilities included indoor sports courts (55.8 percent), fitness centers (59.1 percent), campgrounds (17.2 percent) and amusements, such as rides and arcades (5.5 percent).

Those who reported in from the South Atlantic were the most likely to indicate that they had plans to add features and amenities to their facilities over the next three years. Some 42.2 percent of South Atlantic respondents said they had such plans. They were followed by the Northeast (40.1 percent), South Central (39.8 percent), Midwest (39.5 percent) and West (36.1 percent).

For this reason, it makes sense that of the top 10 planned amenities for all respondents, those in the South Atlantic were most likely to be planning to add six of them. This includes splash play areas, playgrounds, trails, park structures, bleachers and seating, and open spaces. Respondents in the Northeast, on the other hand, were most likely to be planning to add synthetic turf sports fields and dog parks, while those in the West were most likely to be planning concession areas, and Midwestern respondents were most likely to be planning to add disc golf courses.

Other types of amenities also show a great deal of difference depending on the region one is considering. For example, fitness centers are planned by 6.6 percent of South Atlantic respondents, compared with just 1.8 percent of those in the South Central region. Natural turf sports fields, planned by 7.1 percent of all South Atlantic respondents, are in the works for just 2.2 percent of South Central respondents. And aquatic facilities, which are planned in the next three years by 13.7 percent of South Atlantic respondents, will be added by just 7.5 percent of those in the Northeast.