Regional Information

A Look at Regional Trends

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers, the overall fiscal situation of states has improved, but the states' financial situation is still constrained in 2012. Total general fund spending in fiscal 2012 at the state level is still 3.1 percent less than the pre-recession high of $687 billion in fiscal 2008.

Budget cuts at the state level have added up to a $290 billion loss in public service funding, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And, while federal aid helped to reduce the impact of spending cuts aÉs the recession initially hit, its expiration has had a dramatic effect. The result, according to the center, is that 2012 is the worst year since the downturn began for cuts in funding for services. All areas of state budgets have been affected, including elementary and secondary education, health care, higher education and human services. On a more positive note, revenues have seen some growth, and in the 12 months ending in June 2011, state revenues grew by 8.3 percent.

Such cuts trickle down to many of our survey respondents working at both the state and local level in publicly funded schools and universities, state agencies such as state parks, and at the municipal level for park departments and so forth.

While we do not break down State of the Industry Report survey responses on a state-by-state basis, looking at the data according to region can provide some useful insights.

The distribution of survey respondents fairly closely resembles the U.S. Census distribution of population by region. The largest exceptions are found in the Midwest, which was home to 28.7 percent of our survey respondents, compared to just 21.7 percent of the U.S. population in the 2010 Census, and in the South Central region, which was home to 13.6 percent of survey respondents vs. 17.7 percent of the U.S. population in 2010. (See Figure 28.)


The types of organizations—public, private nonprofit and private for-profit—that respondents work for differed slightly depending on the region in which they found themselves. For example, public organizations, such as public schools and park departments, were most prominent in the West, where 72.4 percent of respondents said they worked for public organizations. They were followed by the South Atlantic states, where 68.1 percent of respondents worked for public organizations. Respondents from the Northeast reported the smallest percentage of public organizations, with 63.5 percent of Northeastern respondents indicating that they worked for public organizations.

Private nonprofit organizations, such as YMCAs, were most predominant in the South Central states and in the Midwest. In both of these regions, nearly a quarter (23.4 percent and 23.3 percent, respectively) of respondents indicated that they work for private nonprofits. This compares with just 12.7 percent of respondents in the West.

Private for-profit organizations were most likely to be found in the West, where 13.2 percent of respondents worked for such organizations, and in the Northeast, with 12.8 percent. These organizations were least likely to be found in the Midwest, where just 8.8 percent of respondents indicated they worked for private for-profit organizations.

The types of facilities most prevalent in specific regions largely follow the trend of organization type. For example, in the West, where public organizations dominate, one is most likely to find parks and recreation organizations. Some 44.2 percent of respondents in the West worked for parks. As with public organizations, the Western states were followed by the South Atlantic, where 44.1 percent of respondents worked for parks organizations. The smallest percentage of parks respondents were found in the South Central region, where just under a third (31 percent) of respondents said they worked in parks and recreation. (See Figure 29.)


Colleges and universities were primarily found among respondents in the Northeast and South Central states, where 24.5 percent and 23.4 percent of respondents, respectively, said they worked for colleges and universities. Those in the West were the least likely to be from colleges and universities, with only 14.4 percent of respondents in that region indicating they worked for such facilities.

Schools and school districts were mainly found among Midwestern respondents, where 16 percent said they worked for schools and school districts. This was contrasted by the South Atlantic respondents, only 5.5 percent of whom work for schools and school districts.

Health clubs were primarily found in the West, where 5 percent of respondents worked for them. They were least common among respondents in the Northeast (only 2.8 percent of whom worked for health clubs) and Midwest (also 2.8 percent).

YMCAs were more commonly found in the Midwest and South Central states. Some 6 percent of Midwestern respondents and 5.8 percent of South Central respondents said they worked for YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys and Girls Clubs. This contrasts with the West, where just 2.9 percent of respondents work for such facilities.

Camps were most common among respondents in the West, where 6.7 percent said they worked for such facilities. They were followed by the Midwest, where 6.5 percent said they worked for camp facilities. Camps were least common in the South Atlantic states, where just 3.2 percent of respondents said they worked for this type of facility.

Finally, community sports and recreation centers were most likely to be found in the West, where 8.4 percent of respondents said they worked for such a facility. Only 4 percent of South Central respondents, by contrast, said they worked for community recreation and sports centers.

Users & Budgets

Respondents from the West were more likely than others to report that their primary audience was all ages. Respondents from the Northeast were least likely to serve all ages. Some 44.2 percent of Western respondents said they serve all ages. They were followed by the South Atlantic (39.6 percent), South Central (38.7 percent) and the Midwest (37.1 percent). Just 30.6 percent in the Northeast serve all ages.

Respondents in the West were also most likely to serve seniors age 65 and older, though just 4.1 percent of these respondents indicated that this was their primary audience. They were followed, as might be expected by that other region that draws retirees, the South Atlantic, at 3.7 percent. Respondents in the Northeast were least likely to name seniors as their primary audience, with just 0.6 percent.

On the other hand, respondents in the Northeast were the most likely to report that their primary audience was college students (22.3 percent of those in the Northeast) or children age 4 to 12 (19.5 percent). College students were least likely to be the primary audience of respondents in the West, where just 12.3 percent called this their primary audience. And children age 4 to 12 were least likely to be named as the primary audience by respondents in the South Central region, with just 11.3 percent of these respondents.

Respondents in the South Central region were more likely than those in most other regions to name teens age 13 to 18 as their primary audience. They were closely followed by the Midwest. Some 11.7 percent of South Central respondents and 11.6 percent of Midwestern respondents said teens were their primary audience.


When it comes to growth in the usage of their facilities, respondents from the South Central region were the most likely to report that usage of their facilities had increased from 2010 to 2011. More than half (53.7 percent) of South Central respondents said usage of their facilities had increased in 2011. This is up from just 49.4 percent of the respondents in this region who saw growth in usage from 2009 to 2010. They also were the most likely to be expecting further increases in usage in 2012 and 2013, with 62.4 percent projecting such an increase in 2012 and 60.9 percent expecting growth in 2010. (See Figure 30.)

They were followed by respondents from the South Atlantic, which, along with the Midwest, was the most likely to report an increase in usage from 2009 to 2010. In 2011, 53.7 percent of respondents in the South Atlantic said usage of their facilities had increased. Further increases are expected by 55.8 percent of these respondents in 2012, and 60.5 percent in 2013.

Respondents in the Midwest went from being among those most likely to have seen an increase in usage in 2010 to being those least likely to report an increase from 2010 to 2011. Less than half (48.9 percent) of Midwestern respondents said they had seen an increase in 2011. They also are least likely to expect an increase in 2012 and 2013.

Respondents in the South Central region were most likely to report that their revenues had increased from 2010 to 2011. Some 40.2 percent of these respondents saw an increase in that time period. They were followed by the South Atlantic, where 39.7 percent of respondents reported an increase in revenues. Respondents from the Northeast were least likely to report an increase in revenues in that time period, with just 30.4 percent reporting they had seen an increase. Respondents in the West were the most likely to report that their revenues had fallen from 2010 to 2011. Nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) of Western respondents reported that revenues had fallen from 2010 to 2011.

At the same time, respondents in the South Atlantic reported a dramatic increase in operating expenditures from 2010 to 2011—30.9 percent from $1,363,000 to $1,784,000. Smaller increases were seen in the South Central region (an increase of 12.5 percent) and the West (10.3 percent). Respondents in the Northeast, on the other hand, reported a significant drop—12 percent—to their average operating expenditures from 2010 to 2011. (See Figure 31.)

Looking ahead, respondents from the South Atlantic were the most likely to project higher revenues for 2012 and 2013, and at the same time reported the largest percent increase in operating expenditures from 2011 to 2013. Some 45 percent of South Atlantic respondents expect their revenues to rise in 2012, and 46.2 percent also expect an increase in 2013. At the same time, they project their operating expenditures to increase by 6.3 percent.


Respondents from the West were most likely to expect a drop in revenue in 2012, while those in the Midwest were most likely to expect falling revenues in 2013. In 2012, 17.5 percent of Western respondents said they expect their revenues to fall. They were followed by the Midwest, where 16.1 percent of respondents expect a decrease in revenues in 2012. In 2013, those in the Midwest were more likely to expect a decrease in revenues, with 13 percent of respondents projecting a drop. They were followed by the West, where 12.7 percent expect to see a decrease in revenue from 2012 to 2013.

While respondents from the South Atlantic projected the greatest increase in operating expenditures from 2011 to 2013, they were closely followed by those in the South Central and Midwestern regions. South Atlantic respondents reported an increase of 6.3 percent to their operating expenditures, from $1,784,000 in fiscal 2011 to $1,897,000 in fiscal 2013. Those in the South Central region predicted a 6.2 percent increase, from $1,642,000 to $1,744,000; and those in the Midwest projected a 6 percent increase from $1,405,000 to $1,490,000.

From 2011 to 2013, there is a spread of at least 44 percent between the highest operating budgets (in the South Atlantic region) and the lowest operating budgets (in the Northeast). This compares with a 19.4 percent difference between the highest-spending and lowest-spending regions (West and Midwest, respectively) in 2010. The difference grows from 44.2 percent in 2011 to 46.7 percent in 2012, falling again to a 45.9 percent difference between the region with the highest operating budget and that with the lowest budget in 2013.

Outfitting Facilities

Respondents in the South Atlantic and South Central regions were slightly more likely to indicate that they had plans for construction in this year's survey compared with 2011. While 60.1 percent of South Atlantic respondents and 61.4 percent of South Central respondents in 2011 indicated that they were planning construction, in 2012 those numbers jumped to 63.6 percent and 65.3 percent, respectively. These were also the regions where respondents were most likely to have construction plans of any kind.

Respondents from the West and the Midwest were least likely to report that they had plans for construction, though more than half in each region did indicate they had plans of some kind. (See Figure 32.)

Respondents in the South Atlantic and South Central were the most likely to be planning to build new facilities or make additions to their existing facilities, while those in the Northeast and South Atlantic regions were most likely to be planning renovations. More than a quarter of South Atlantic and South Central respondents were planning to build new (29.8 percent and 28.1 percent, respectively) or make additions (27.7 percent and 28.8 percent, respectively). And nearly half of Northeastern (47.9 percent) and South Atlantic (47 percent) respondents were planning to make renovations.


In 2011's report, we found that the majority of regions (with the exception of the Northeast) were planning to spend less on construction plans than they had budgeted in 2010. This year's results saw a drop in planned construction spending among respondents in the South Atlantic, where we see a 12.6 percent decrease in construction budgets from $4,437,000 in 2011 to $3,879,000 in 2012. The Northeast also reported a slight, 0.5 percent decrease in construction spending in this time period. On the other hand, increases of 9 percent and higher were reported in the other three regions, from the relatively modest 9.5 percent increase reported in the Midwest, to 15.5 percent in the West, up to a dramatic 48.1 percent increase in construction spending among respondents in the South Central region. (See Figure 33.)

The types of features and amenities more likely to be found in some regions than others paint an interesting picture of the way the recreation, sports and fitness landscapes varies across the country. They also reflect the types of facilities that are more likely to be found in these regions.

For example, respondents in the Midwest, who were far more likely than respondents in other regions to indicate that they worked for schools and school districts, were also most likely to report that their facilities currently include locker rooms (64.1 percent of respondents), concession areas (61 percent), outdoor running tracks (28.8 percent) and indoor running tracks (27.9 percent). Respondents in this region also were more likely than others to report that they included a disc golf course (17.8 percent), a nature center (12.8 percent) or a waterpark (11 percent).

Respondents in the South Atlantic, on the other hand, who were among those most likely (along with the West) to be from parks organizations were also most likely to indicate that their facilities include classrooms and meeting rooms (64.6 percent), bleachers and seating (61.5 percent), playgrounds (55.9 percent), open spaces such as natural areas and gardens (55.7 percent), park structures such as shelters and restroom buildings (56.2 percent), exercise studios (48 percent), trails (47 percent), waterfronts and marinas (24.8 percent), dog parks (19.3 percent) and challenge courses (9.8 percent).

Respondents from the West, who were most likely to be from park districts, as well as health clubs, camps and community recreation and sports centers, were also most likely to indicate that their facilities included: aquatic facilities, including outdoor aquatics (35.6 percent), indoor aquatics (31 percent) and splash play areas (19.5 percent). Respondents in the West also were most likely to indicate that their facilities included a climbing wall (19.5 percent), a skatepark (25 percent) or a golf course (17.5 percent).


In the Northeast, where respondents were more likely than those in other regions to be from colleges and universities, facilities were more likely than those in other regions to include outdoor sports courts (63.5 percent), natural turf sports fields (56.8 percent), synthetic turf sports fields (29 percent), ice rinks (15.9 percent) or skiing and other winter recreation amenities (9.5 percent).

Respondents in the South Central region, where colleges and universities also were more common, were most likely to report that their facilities included indoor sports courts (55.8 percent), fitness centers (59.1 percent), campgrounds (17.2 percent) and amusements, such as rides and arcades (5.5 percent).

Those who reported in from the South Atlantic were the most likely to indicate that they had plans to add features and amenities to their facilities over the next three years. Some 42.2 percent of South Atlantic respondents said they had such plans. They were followed by the Northeast (40.1 percent), South Central (39.8 percent), Midwest (39.5 percent) and West (36.1 percent).

For this reason, it makes sense that of the top 10 planned amenities for all respondents, those in the South Atlantic were most likely to be planning to add six of them. This includes splash play areas, playgrounds, trails, park structures, bleachers and seating, and open spaces. Respondents in the Northeast, on the other hand, were most likely to be planning to add synthetic turf sports fields and dog parks, while those in the West were most likely to be planning concession areas, and Midwestern respondents were most likely to be planning to add disc golf courses.

Other types of amenities also show a great deal of difference depending on the region one is considering. For example, fitness centers are planned by 6.6 percent of South Atlantic respondents, compared with just 1.8 percent of those in the South Central region. Natural turf sports fields, planned by 7.1 percent of all South Atlantic respondents, are in the works for just 2.2 percent of South Central respondents. And aquatic facilities, which are planned in the next three years by 13.7 percent of South Atlantic respondents, will be added by just 7.5 percent of those in the Northeast.

Programming

As with the types of amenities that are found more in one region than another, certain types of programming also seem to be found more commonly in some regions.

Respondents in the South Central region for the most part were least likely to indicate that they included specific programs in their listings, with only a handful of exceptions. South Central respondents were the least likely to offer holiday events and other special events, fitness programs, day camps and summer camps, youth sports teams, mind-body/balance programs like yoga or martial arts, swimming programs, adult sports teams, sport-specific training, arts and crafts, active older adult programming, individual sports activities, teen programs, trips, festivals and concerts, performing arts, daycare or preschool, special needs programs and environmental education. On the other hand, respondents from this region were more likely than any other region to offer personal training, nutrition and diet counseling, camping and therapeutic programs.

Respondents in the South Atlantic region were more likely than other regions to currently include holiday events and other special events, fitness programs, active older adult programs, trips, environmental education and water sports in their lineup.

In the Midwest, facilities are more likely than those in other regions to feature educational programs, youth sports teams, sports tournaments or races and individual sports activities.

Respondents in the Northeast were most likely to include day camps and summer camps, mind-body/balance programs, adult sports teams, sport-specific training, and festivals and concerts. They were the least likely to include educational programs, aquatic exercise programs, personal training, nutrition and diet counseling, camping, water sports, therapeutic programs or climbing.

Respondents in the West were more likely than those in other regions to offer swimming programs, arts and crafts, aquatic exercise programs, teen programming, performing arts, daycare or preschool, special needs programs and climbing programs. Respondents in this region were least likely to offer sports tournaments or races.

Nearly a third of respondents in all regions indicated that they have plans to add more programming options to their rosters over the next several years. Those in the South Atlantic region were most likely to be planning new programs. Some 31.1 percent of respondents in this region reported that they had such plans. They were followed by the Midwest (29.8 percent), Northeast (29.5 percent), West (28.8 percent) and South Central (28.5 percent) regions.

Respondents in the South Atlantic region were the most likely to be planning to add day camps and summer camps, performing arts, arts and crafts, festivals and concerts, trips, special needs programs and water sports.

Those in the Midwest were most likely to be planning to add educational programs, environmental education, camping and daycare or preschool programs.

Respondents in the Northeast were more likely than other regions to be planning to add fitness programs, mind-body/balance programs, holiday events and other special events, adult sports teams, sports tournaments or races, sport-specific training and climbing.

Western respondents were more likely than those in other regions to be planning to add teen programming, active older adult programming, individual sports activities, nutrition and diet counseling, aquatic exercise, youth sports teams, swimming programs, personal training and therapeutic programming.

Interestingly, respondents from the South Central region could claim no programming area to dominate, and as with current programs, where they were the least likely to include them, they also were least likely to be planning to add most programs. The exceptions were sport-specific training, special needs programs and water sports. In all three of these cases, respondents from the South Central region were second most likely to be planning to add the program.



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