2016 Recreational Sports Trends

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If I asked you what the most popular recreational sport of 2016 is, what would you choose? Soccer? Volleyball? Maybe Tennis?The answer may surprise you.

According to a recent study conducted by GreenPlay Consultants, the number one recreational sport of 2016 (so far) that recreational facilities are adding is Pickleball. Strange, no? Well, though it may seem a strange at first, the rising popularity actually comes from the growing popularity of “simple” and “small” sports and activities. More trending sports in this area include small group training, mini-soccer, body-weight training, Ultimate Frisbee, and more recently, shortened sports seasons.

There are a couple key benefits that come from adding these “small and simple” activities. For one, facilities have an easier time integrating them into their existing programs as these activities usually require smaller spaces, less equipment and time. Mini-soccer only takes up about half of a traditional soccer field and Pickleball takes up only about a quarter of a regular tennis court, allowing for about four matches to take place at once.
An added benefit of these scaled-down sports is that people of all physical capabilities can play them. While they are popular with children and adults, older players are jumping on the trend as well because they don’t need to exert the same amount of energy as they would in the traditional forms of these sporting activities.

Many facilities are also adopting the trend of smaller seasons for sports leagues to accommodate the busy schedules of adults. As a result, the cost and use of equipment goes down and there are more opportunities for incoming revenue as leagues begin back-to-back.

Also trending are leisure or less athletic sports such as wiffleball, kickball, dodgeball, and hula-hoops. These activities are nowhere near as intense as other competitive sports, and work nicely into schedules as they can easily be played right after work and virtually anywhere. Some of the more popular leisure sports include foot gold, archery, and more recently Bubble Soccer which involves inflatable “bubbles” that players don which protects them upon impact with other players. Essentially, it’s bumper cars but with bubbles!

These rising trends have proven to be extremely beneficial to recreational facilities as they have driven down the cost of operation while increasing demand for new recreation possibilities. This is why it is so important to pay attention to predicted trends and consistently update services that your facility offers. All of the trends we’ve mentioned generate more interest in your business and creates various new streams of revenue. Get ahead of the curb by tapping into your local community. Find out what activities are generating the most interest and don’t be afraid to ask what new trends your clients have heard of that they would like to try!

Health Clubs and Property Taxes

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There’s been a lot of talk recently about Rodney Steven II, owner of Genesis Health Clubs in Wichita, Kansas. Steven has been fighting local YMCAs that receive tax-exempt status, arguing that the Ys have an unfair advantage over for-profit health clubs that pay property taxes.

Last month, by a 25-14 vote, a bill passed in the Kansas Senate that would exempt for-profit health clubs from paying property taxes. The exemption reportedly applies to health clubs that focus on cardio and strength equipment but not specialty clubs, such as golf courses, spas, and tennis facilities. The bill is now in a House-Senate conference committee, and will presumably be taken up again when the Kansas Legislature resumes its current session on May 8th, after a break.

What people have been debating is, first of all, whether the votes in favor are legit. Some critics have accused Steven of having bought the vote, as his company donated at least $45,000 to Kansas Senate Republicans during their campaigns over the past two years. Twenty of the 24 senators who received contributions from his company voted for the bill, according to reports. (Steven, refuting any connection between his donations and the votes, has pointed out that he’s been politically active for years, that no bill had been written when the donations were made, and that some senators who voted for the bill did not receive any contributions.)

Critics also have argued that the bill would have an impact on local school and municipal budgets that collect property tax money, and that private golf clubs, child-care centers, waste collection companies, and generally any private entity that competes with municipal services might find themselves freed of the obligation to pay property taxes if the bill passes.

But, as Steven told the online fitness business news source Club Industry, “Even municipal golf courses in Kansas are required to collect and pay some taxes. Not every non-profit in Kansas is tax-exempt. Only non-profit and municipal health clubs are 100 percent exempt from collecting and/or paying any taxes. This unique exemption was granted to non-profit health clubs in 1998 by the Kansas Legislature.” And, Steven says, “The Legislature needs to fix their creation of this inequity.”

What do you think? Is the 1998 law unfair? Should for-profit health clubs be required to pay property taxes if nonprofit and municipal clubs are not? Instead, should YMCAs, as one senator suggested, be required to pay property taxes? If the bill passes, will the door be opened for other organizations that compete with municipal services to claim exemption? And might schools and other municipal services be negatively impacted if they are?

What are your own experiences with property taxes?