Feature Article - June 2020
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2020 Report on the State of the Managed Recreation Industry

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

By Emily Tipping


When it comes to organizational structure, some types of facilities are more likely to be public or government-based organizations, while others are more likely to be nonprofit or for-profit organizations. A vast majority (98.5%) of park respondents indicated that they were with public organizations. Also highly likely to be from public organizations were respondents from schools and school districts (92.7%) and those from colleges and universities (66.9%).

Similarly, a vast majority of respondents from Ys and similar organizations said that they were with private nonprofits. Some 95.3% of Y respondents said they were private nonprofits. More than half (54.7%) of camp respondents and 29% of college and university respondents said they were with private nonprofit organizations.

For-profit organizations were most common among those from sports, health, fitness and medical fitness facilities, where more than half (51.4%) said they were with for-profit organizations. Some 29.3% of camp respondents said they were for-profit.

On average, survey respondents manage 8.3 facilities, up from 7.9 in 2019, showing a continuing increase from an average that has ranged between 6.4 and 7.4 in past surveys. 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% in 2018 to 55.2% in 2020. Around another quarter (25.5%) said they manage between four and nine facilities, and another 19.4% said they manage 10 or more facilities. (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 10 facilities, suburban respondents manage 8.8 facilities, and rural respondents manage 6.5. Some 20.9% of urban respondents and 22% of suburban respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, compared with 15.1% of rural respondents. On the other hand, 33.8% of rural respondents said they manage a single facility, compared with 29.8% of suburban and 31.6% 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 12 facilities (up from 10.7 in 2019), with 30.5% reporting that they manage 10 or more facilities. (See Figure 7.) They were followed by school respondents, who manage an average of 7.6 facilities, with 17.6% reporting that they manage 10 or more.

Respondents from health clubs and camps were the most likely to report that they manage just a single facility, with 69.4% of health club respondents and 62.3% of camp respondents indicating that they manage just a single facility.