Feature Article - June 2019
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2019 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


On average, survey respondents manage 7.9 facilities, slightly higher than in past years, when the average has ranged from 6.4 to 7.4. This is driven by a decrease in the percentage of respondents who indicate that they manage between one and three facilities, down from 59.7 percent in 2018 to 55.3 percent in 2019. Another quarter (25 percent) said they manage between four and nine facilities, up slightly from 23.3 percent in 2018. And another 19.7 percent said they manage 10 or more facilities, up from 17 percent in 2018. (See Figure 6.)

Respondents from urban and suburban communities were more likely than those from rural areas to report that they manage a larger number of facilities. Conversely, rural respondents were more likely to report that they manage a single facility. On average, urban respondents manage 9 facilities, suburban respondents manage 8.7 facilities, and rural respondents manage 6.1. Some 21.6 percent of urban respondents and 22.7 percent of suburban respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, compared with 13.9 percent of rural respondents. On the other hand, 34.2 percent of rural respondents said they manage a single facility, compared with 32.8 percent of suburban and 29.9 percent of urban respondents.

Respondents from parks facilities were the most likely to report that they manage a larger number of facilities. On average, parks respondents manage 10.7 facilities, with 30.4 percent reporting that they manage 10 or more facilities. (See Figure 7.) They were followed by school respondents, who manage an average of 8.7 facilities, with 19.7 percent reporting that they manage 10 or more.

Respondents from health clubs, camps and recreation centers were the most likely to report that they manage just a single facility, with 64.6 percent of health club respondents, 54.8 percent of camp respondents and 50.9 percent of rec center respondents indicating that they manage just a single facility. However, respondents from Ys had the lowest average number of facilities managed, at 4.2 (compared with 4.7 for health clubs, 5 for rec centers and 5.1 for camps).

In order to expand programming capabilities and provide more opportunities for their participants, many recreation, sports and fitness facilities partner with other organizations. In fact, a substantial majority (87.9 percent) of respondents said they form these kinds of partnerships, a number that has held steady over time. (In 2018, 86.6 percent said they had formed partnerships, down slightly from 86.8 percent in 2017, and 87.2 percent in 2016.)