Feature Article - June 2017
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State of the INDUSTRY

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

By Emily Tipping


For the most part, the percentage of respondents in 2017 with various sorts of amenities was fairly similar to 2016. There was an increase of at least 2 percent from 2016 to 2017 in the number of respondents whose facilities included: Wi-Fi services (up from 55.3 percent); fitness centers (up from 48.5 percent); exercise studios (up from 42.7 percent); and park restroom structures (up from 42.1 percent).

Looking back as far as 2014, there has been an increase of at least 2 percent in the number of respondents whose facilities included: playgrounds (up from 54.5 percent); open spaces (up from 51.8 percent); walking and hiking trails (up from 44 percent); community centers or multipurpose centers (up from 44 percent); indoor aquatic facilities (up from 28.2 percent); splash play areas (up from 15.4 percent); and dog parks (up from 13.2 percent).

Parks respondents were more likely than other facility types to include: playgrounds (85.5 percent of parks respondents had playgrounds); park shelters and gazebos (83.5 percent); park restrooms (79.9 percent); outdoor sports courts (69.4 percent); community and multipurpose centers (57.5 percent); bike trails (51.4 percent); dog parks (37.9 percent); community gardens (36 percent); skateparks (35.2 percent); fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (34.2 percent); splash play areas (31.8 percent); disc golf courses (30.1 percent); golf courses (18.8 percent); ice rinks (17.1 percent); waterparks (16.8 percent); bike and BMX parks (12.6 percent); skiing and winter recreation areas (8.5 percent); and amusements like rides and arcades (2.8 percent).

Respondents from colleges and universities were more likely than those from other facility types to include: indoor sports courts (84.1 percent of college respondents' facilities included them); indoor tracks (53.4 percent); and synthetic turf sports fields (36.1 percent).

School respondents were more likely than other facilities to include: locker rooms (86.4 percent); bleachers and seating (79.3 percent); concessions (72.8 percent); natural turf sports fields (71 percent); and outdoor tracks (64.5 percent).

Respondents from health clubs were more likely than other types of facilities to include fitness centers, with 94.7 percent indicating they had them.

Ys were more likely than other facility types to include: exercise studios (85.1 percent of Ys included them); Wi-Fi services (81.8 percent); indoor aquatic facilities (70.2 percent); classrooms and meeting rooms (68.6 percent); and childcare centers (59.5 percent).

Finally, camps were more likely than other facility types to include: open spaces such as gardens and natural areas (85.5 percent of camp respondents included them); walking and hiking trails (83.6 percent); waterfronts, marinas and beaches (65.5 percent); campgrounds (64.5 percent); challenge courses and ropes courses (50 percent); outdoor aquatic facilities (47.3 percent); climbing walls (47.3 percent); and nature centers (24.5 percent).

Some 41.5 percent of all respondents said that they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next several years. This is down slightly from 2015 and 2016, when 42.7 percent of respondents had such plans (See Figure 28.)


Respondents from parks and camps were the most likely to report that they had plans to add features at their facilities. Some 51.8 percent of park respondents and 50.9 percent of camp respondents said they had such plans. They were followed by community centers and Ys, 39.8 percent and 39.3 percent of which were planning to add features at their facilities, respectively.

Health clubs and schools saw an increase in the percentage of respondents planning to add features between 2016 and 2017. While 15.6 percent of health clubs and 26.7 percent of schools in 2016 said they would be adding features, in 2017, those numbers increased to 19.7 percent and 30.8 percent, respectively.

The top 10 planned features for all facility types include:

  1. Splash play areas (22.5 percent of those with plans to add features will add splash play)
  2. Fitness trails and/or outdoor fitness equipment (18.5 percent)
  3. Park shelters (16.5 percent)
  4. Playgrounds (15.6 percent)
  5. Synthetic turf sports fields (14.2 percent)
  6. Wi-Fi services (14.1 percent)
  7. Walking/hiking trails (14 percent)
  8. Fitness centers (13.8 percent)
  9. Restroom structures (13.3 percent)
  10. Bleachers and seating (11.8 percent)