Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

November 2016

Retractable Enclosures Help YMCAs Cut Costs, Boost Membership

By Deborah Vence

YMCA facilities are able to reduce operating costs, increase membership and create all-seasons environments for communities thanks to retractable enclosures.

The YMCA collaborated with OpenAire—a company that builds retractable enclosure solutions for businesses and communities—to build no less than 12 all-seasons enclosure designs that enhance YMCA members' experiences in communities across the United States, while reducing operating costs for YMCA facilities.

One of the earliest collaborations between happened when the Mission Valley YMCA in San Diego was seeking a pool enclosure that would provide a warm, inviting outdoor-style environment year-round for members of all ages. Members were concerned that an enclosure would block out the sunlight and create a dull, closed atmosphere for the pool. But, the management team was drawn to OpenAire because of its track record of creating reliable, attractive and customized operable enclosures.

The company delivered an aluminum-framed retractable roof enclosure that let in the California sun, while providing shelter year-round and alleviating members' concerns. The owners of the Mission Valley YMCA were extremely impressed with the pool enclosure.

"Prior to covering the pool, we had very little winter usage, and only limited evening usage. We now have a full pool … our aquatic income has increased over 40 percent since adding the cover … OpenAire has made a big difference to our YMCA," said Dick Webster, executive director of the Mission Valley YMCA.

At Mission Valley, the center's revenue from aquatic activities has increased more than 40 percent since opening their new enclosure.

In another example at the Woodruff Family YMCA in Connecticut, the original goal when partnering with OpenAire was to bring in 2,000 new members in two years. Instead, the new facility brought in 3,000 new members in just a few months.

Other locations later began to incorporate retractable enclosures at their facilities. Those locations include: the Clark County YMCAs in Clark County and Vancouver, Wash.; Toby Wells Missile Park YMCA in San Diego; Magdalene Ecke YMCA in Encinitas, Calif.; McGrath YMCA in Rancho, San Diego; Copley Price YMCA in San Diego; Woodruff Family YMCA in Milford Conn.; Bolivar YMCA in Bolivar, Mo.; Round Rock YMCA in Round Rock, Texas; and Spring Valley Splash Pad in West Norriton, Pa.

OpenAire's designs have been able to solve different challenges for YMCA locations. The thermally-broken aluminum-framed structures offer durability, resisting corrosion from moisture and pool chemicals and, thus, reducing maintenance costs for each location. Each design creates a vibrant, naturally-lit environment that opens to the sunlight of warm days, yet closes securely in less favorable weather. The enclosure greatly reduces the need for lighting, air conditioning and ventilation while offering YMCA members an authentic outdoor environment all year.

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