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2022 Trends in Sports & Rec Centers

A Look at Trends in Sports & Recreation Centers


Community and private recreation and sports centers were represented by 9.9% of the respondents to the Industry Report survey. Nearly seven out of 10 (69.6%) were with private facilities. Some 37.5% of rec center respondents were with private, nonprofit facilities, and 32.1% were with private, for-profit facilities. Another 28.6% said they were with public or governmental facilities.

Rec center respondents were most likely to be from the Midwest, with 30.4% of these respondents indicating that they make their home in that region. A little less than one-quarter were from the Northeast (23.2%) and the same number of respondents were from the West (23.2%). Smaller numbers of rec center respondents represented the South Central region (12.5%) or the South Atlantic region (10.7%).

Well over half (55.4%) of rec center respondents reported that they were located in suburban communities. Another 23.2% were from rural communities, and 21.4% were located in urban areas.

Rec center respondents were just slightly more likely than others to report that they had partnered with other organizations. Some 83.3% of rec center respondents said they had formed such partnerships, down from 85.8% in 2021. This compares with 82.5% of non-rec-center respondents who said they had formed partnerships in 2022. The most common partners for rec and sports centers were: local schools (57.4% of rec center respondents had partnered with schools), nonprofit organizations (55.6%), local government (50%), corporate or local businesses (33.3%), and colleges and universities (31.5%).

Revenues & Expenditures

After more than seven in 10 (71.1%) of rec center respondents reported a decline in revenues from 2019 to 2020, this year saw a turnaround, with 60% of rec center respondents indicating their revenues had increased from 2020 to 2021. Another 20% reported no change in revenues for 2021, while 20% reported a decrease.

In 2022, 63% of rec center respondents said they expect their revenues to increase, while 31.5% expect no change, and 5.6% are anticipating a decline. And in 2023, around half (49.1%) are expecting revenues to increase, while another 47.3% expect revenues to remain the same, and 3.6% expect a decrease.

Rec center respondents reported a 15.6% decrease to their average operating cost in 2021, down from $1,350,000 in 2020 to an average of $1,140,000. Looking ahead, they projected an increase of 7% from 2021 to 2022, to an average cost of $1,220,000, and a further 6.6% increase in 2023, to an average of $1,300,000.

On average, rec center respondents said they recover 64% of their operating costs via revenues, up from 56% in 2021 and 51.1% in 2020.

Nearly eight out of 10 (79.2%) of rec center respondents reported that they had taken action to reduce their expenditures over the past year, down from 95.6% in 2021, but in line with 2020, when 79.8% had taken such action. The most common measures rec centers had deployed to reduce their operating costs include: reducing staff (39.6%), reducing hours of operation (39.6%), increasing fees (39.6%), improving energy efficiency (28.3%), and cutting programs or services (22.6%).

Rec Center Facilities

Some 55.4% of rec center respondents in 2022 said they had plans for construction over the next few years, down from 59.1% in 2021 and 62.4% in 2020. Some 21.4% said they were planning to build new facilities, while 23.2% were planning additions and 37.5% were planning to renovate their existing facilities. (See Figure 1.)

On average, rec center respondents in 2022 were planning to spend $2,900,000 on their construction plans. This represents a 55% decrease from 2021, when they planned to spend an average of $6,450,000. The 10 features most commonly included at rec and sports center respondents' facilities include: fitness centers, locker rooms, Wi-Fi services, bleachers and seating, exercise studio rooms, classrooms and meeting rooms, concession areas, playgrounds, indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball, and natural turf sports fields.

A quarter (25%) of rec center respondents in 2022 said they had plans to add more features to their facilities over the next few years. This compares with 40.6% of non-rec-center respondents in 2022 and is down from 39.1% in 2021.

The most commonly planned additions were:

  1. Splash play areas
  2. Playgrounds
  3. Fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment
  4. Synthetic turf sports fields
  5. Dog parks
  6. Disc golf courses
  7. Open spaces and natural areas
  8. Classrooms and meeting rooms
  9. Waking and hiking trails
  10. Community gardens