In 2015 University of Southern Danmark launched a three-year research project on sports facilities. The project has received external funding of 1.000.000 EUR and will run until 2018.
The project aims to gain knowledge on what matters for the performance of sports facilities. To do so a number of performance measures will be developed. These will relate to the sports facilities economy, utilisation, which users they serve and how satisfied the users are and finally a tool to assess the physical condition of the sports facilities will be developed.
The research project consist of three phases:
Phase 1 (2015-2016)
In phase 1 we are conducting a mapping of the public management and framework conditions of public supported sports facilities. Relevant data are gathered and the municipalities and the sports facilities answer a survey. 50 of the 98 Danish municipalities have agreed to contribute to this part of the project
The survey to the municipalities are on themes about municipal policies and priorities towards sports facilities as well as on economic questions about how much city councils spend on sports facilities.
Almost 1100 sports facilities across the 50 municipalities will also be surveyed. The sports facilities are to describe the sports facility both with regard to buildings as well the staff profile. Also, they are to report on a number of questions regarding the management of the sports facility on matters such as user satisfaction, utilisation and the basic principles behind their management.
The results of the project will enable Municipalities to discuss how their operation and public management of sports facilities should be in the future. For the sports facilities it gives insight into how they are organised compared to other sports facilities and how the public management of sports facilities differs across municipalities.
Phase 2 (2016-2017)
In phase 2 the performance of sports facilities are measured in 20 municipalities by collecting performance information:
- The utilisation of the sports facilities in two weeks from 8-22.
- A survey of user satisfaction targeting the daily users of the sports facility (both Sports Clubs/public institutions as well as the casual users)
- A measurement of the sports facilities physical condition and their aesthetics
On the basis of these measurements of performance it will be possible to analyse in depth, which significance variables such as the (public) management and organisation of sports facilities have for the performance of sports facilities.
The results of phase two are linked with the results from phase one and it is on that backdrop possible to show which types of approaches to (public) management actually matters for performance.
Phase 3 (2017)
On the basis of phase 1 and 2 10 sports centres are selected. In depth analysis of the catchment area and performance of the sports facilities will shed further light on how the (public) management and organisation of sports facilities should be conducted.
The results of the research project
In sum, the research project will provide the data for assessing what actually influence the performance of sports facilities. This has to some extent been the focus of previous research – but the vast amount of data collected in this project provides the possibilities for interesting analysis.
How to run publicly supported sports facilities efficiently is high on the policy agenda in Denmark as there is a push for efficiency, as well as adapting to new trends particularly within sports for all. This interest could be a part of the reason that the research project so far has attracted such a massive interest from Danish municipalities. Even though the sports systems of other countries are different – in many western countries the direct and indirect subsidisation of sports facilities particularly aiming at providing sports facilities for sports for all are significant. Hence, to transfer the research project to other national settings seems to be relevant to consider.