Feature Article - June 2020
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Trends in Aquatic Facilities

A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities

Pools & Budgets

Aquatic respondents report much higher overall operating expenses than non-aquatic respondents. However, from 2018 to 2019, non-aquatic respondents' overall operating expenditures increased at a greater clip. From 2018 to 2019, aquatic respondents saw their overall operating expense grow 10.7%, from an average of $2,420,000 to $2,680,000. For non-aquatic respondents, expenses increased by more than half, with a 51.4% increase from $1,070,000 in 2018 to an average of $1,620,000 in 2019.

Looking forward, however, aquatic respondents were expecting to see their operating expenditures increase faster than non-aquatic respondents. From 2019 to 2021, non-aquatic respondents projected that their operating expenses would grow 4.3%, from $1,620,000 to $1,690,000. Aquatic respondents, on the other hand, projected a 6.7% increase to operating expenses, from $2,680,000 in 2019 to $2,860,000 in 2021.

While aquatic respondents reported a 10.7% increase in their overall operating budget from 2018 to 2019, their operating budget for aquatics only grew faster. Aquatic operating budgets increased 28.3% in that time frame, from an average of $460,000 in 2018 to $590,000 in 2019. Looking forward, aquatic respondents were expecting aquatic operating expenses to increase a further 6.8% by 2021, reaching an average of $630,000. (See Figure 37.)

Respondents from Ys reported the highest average aquatic operating expense for 2019, at $740,000. They were followed by parks ($670,000) and rec centers ($630,000). Respondents from health clubs had the lowest average aquatic operating expense in 2019, at $210,000.

From 2019 to 2021, respondents from schools were expecting the greatest growth in their aquatic operating expenses. School respondents with aquatics reported that they expected their average operating cost for aquatics to grow by 40%, from an average of $350,000 in 2019 to $490,000 in 2021. Others who were expecting aquatic operating costs to grow by at least 10% from 2019 to 2021 include camps (up 17.1%, from $350,000 to $410,000) and Ys (up 14.9%, from $740,000 to $850,000). More modest increases were expected among other facility types, with colleges projecting a 6.9% increase from $290,000 in 2019 to $310,000 in 2021; parks expecting a 6% increase from $670,000 to $710,000; and rec centers projecting a 3.2% increase from $630,000 to $650,000. Health club respondents with aquatics reported that they expect no change to their average aquatic operating cost from 2019 to 2021.

One-third (33.3%) of aquatic respondents said their aquatic revenues increased from 2018 to 2019, up from 31.5% who reported an increase in 2018 and 27.1% who saw an increase in 2017. At the same time, the percentage of aquatic respondents who saw their revenues decrease fell slightly, from 11.6% reporting a decrease in 2018 to 10.3% who saw a decrease in 2019.

Looking forward, a slightly growing number of aquatic respondents were expecting their aquatic revenues to increase further in 2020 (34.4% were expecting an increase) and in 2021 (35.1%), while a declining number expected their revenues to drop in 2020 (5.6%) and 2021 (4.1%). These numbers, of course, will be very different when we take the next Industry Report Survey in early 2021.

From 2018 to 2019, aquatic respondents from health clubs were the most likely to report that their aquatic revenues had increased. Some 46.7% of health club respondents with aquatics said aquatic revenues were up in 2019. They were followed by those from rec centers (with 38.5% reporting an increase) and parks (with 35.2% reporting an increase).

Aquatic respondents from Ys were the most likely to report that their revenues had decreased from 2018 to 2019, with 13.2% reporting that aquatic revenues had fallen in that time. They were followed by schools and parks—11.5% of each reported a decrease in aquatic revenues from 2018 to 2019.