Feature Article - June 2022
Find a printable version here

Our 2022 Report on the State of the Managed Recreation Industry

By Emily Tipping


Now in it's 16th year, the Industry Report has grown and adapted, just as the business of operating recreation and sports venues, fitness clubs and aquatic facilities has grown and adapted. The data have reflected greater trends in the world, from the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, with its obvious impact on budgets and construction plans to the more recent pandemic impact, with its facility closures and the challenges associated with providing a safe outlet for guests to find fun and fitness, sports and recreation. The biggest impact revealed in this year's survey is the obvious impact of the so-called "Great Resignation." Facilities want to hire talented and eager staff to help bring everything they do to visitors and members. Beyond that, the data largely reveal what looks like the beginning of a return to normalcy, with budgets and participation back on the upswing, and respondents looking to add new amenities, new programming, and indeed, new facilities.

In the following pages, you'll find an in-depth look at the responses to our annual 50-question survey, sent to professionals working in the industry's parks, recreation, sports, fitness and aquatic facilities. We offer up an overview of how things have been going over the past five or six years, as well as an even closer look at the trends of the past year.

The whole thing begins right here, as we break down the responses from all of the respondents, considering their plans for programming and construction, examining operating budgets and revenues, and detailing staffing, certification and other issues. In the following sections of this issue, we'll break the information down further, with individual coverage of specific survey populations. You'll find a discussion of the response from those whose facilities include aquatics beginning on page 36. After that, we look at each of the largest cohorts of facility types represented among survey respondents, including parks and recreation departments and districts (see page 52), colleges and universities (see page 62), schools and school districts (see page 68), fitness facilities and health clubs (see page 72), and finally, nonprofit facilities like YMCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs (see page 78).

You'll find even more information if you head over to the RecManagement.com website, where we include additional breakouts of data for camp facilities, as well as community and private recreation and sports centers. And as always, we deliver a weekly dose of data in our Rec Report e-newsletter. Every week, we'll highlight a different data point, mixing and matching the information to bring you additional information not included in these pages.

Is there a piece of information you'd like, but can't find in these pages? It never hurts to ask! Send your message to editor@recmanagement.com, and we'll see if we can find the answer to your questions.

Finally, don't forget to read your July issue of Recreation Management, where our annual Salary Survey will break down salaries and more career information from the Industry Report respondents.