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

After reporting a slight drop in operating expenditures from 2014 to 2015 in the 2016 Industry Report, this year saw a relatively significant increase. From 2015 to 2016, operating expenditures increased 17.5 percent, from an average of $1,740,000 to $2,044,000. (See Figure 12.) Reflecting the gradual recovery of the economy as the effects of the recession have faded, operating expenditures have increased by 43.2 percent since 2010.

Looking forward, respondents are expecting further increases to their operating expenses. From 2016 to 2017, respondents said they expect their operating expenses to increase by 2.3 percent, to an average of $2,091,000. And from 2017 to 2018, they projected a further increase of 1.1 percent, to an average of $2,115,000.

Respondents from urban communities reported the highest average operating expenditures for 2016, with an average of $2,713,000. That said, suburban respondents reported the greatest increase in their operating expenses from 2015 to 2016. In that time period, suburban respondents saw their average operating expenditure increase by 26.8 percent, from $1,900,000 in 2015 to $2,409,000 in 2016. Urban respondents saw a more modest increase, with revenues rising by 9.9 percent, from $2,468,000 in 2015 to $2,713,000 in 2016. Rural respondents reported a 5 percent decrease in their operating expenses in this time frame, falling from an average of $1,113,000 in 2015 to $1,057,000 in 2016.

Looking forward, respondents from urban communities are expecting the greatest increase to operating expenditures between 2016 and 2018. In that time frame, they project their average operating cost to grow by 4.6 percent, from $2,713,000 to $2,839,000. They were followed by rural respondents, who projected a 4.3 percent increase from $1,057,000 in 2016 to $1,102,000 in 2018. Suburban respondents projected the smallest increase to operating expenses, with a 1.9 percent increase from $2,409,000 in 2016 to $2,454,000 in 2018.

Between fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2016, parks respondents reported the greatest increases in their average operating expenditures. Park respondents said their operating costs grew by 58 percent in that time, from an average of $1,537,000 in 2013 to $2,428,000 in 2016. They were followed by colleges and universities, with an increase of 43 percent, from $1,332,000 to $1,905,000; and health clubs, with a 23.7 percent increase, from $1,302,000 to $1,804,000. Only community centers reported a decrease to operating expenditures between 2013 and 2016, reporting a drop of 2.3 percent from an average of $1,215,000 to $1,187,000. Falling in between these extremes were camps, with a 5.5 percent increase, Ys (up 23.7 percent), and schools (up 26 percent).

Looking forward, Y respondents not only report the highest average operating expenditures of all facility types, but also expect the sharpest increase to their operating expenses between 2016 and 2018. (See Figure 13.) In that time period, Ys expect their operating costs to grow by 12 percent, from $3,058,000 in 2016 to $3,245,000 in 2018. They were followed by colleges, with a 7.1 percent increase from $1,905,000 to $2,040,000; and parks, with a 4.2 percent increase, from $2,428,000 to $2,531,000. More modest increases to operating expenditures were expected by respondents from camps (up 2.5 percent) and schools (up 1.8 percent).