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19.08.2016 - Ausgabe: 4/2016

KGSt Sports Facilities Comparison Report – Support for sustainable sport facility management

by Gregor Jajac


Since 2012, member towns in the nationwide German intercommunal performance comparison circle for sports facilities have exchanged key figures and experience involved with the construction and operation of community sport centres. Together with the advisory office KGSt, the communities have developed a new system of key figures, with which it is intended to provide support for management of community sports centres from an economic and expert point of view. Along with general sport promotion, key index figures regarding cost recovery (break-even point), operating efficiency and capacity utilisation of sports centres and halls are taken into consideration. Important individual aspects – such as maintenance of sports fields or cleaning of sports halls – are also included in the key figure comparison and given in-depth consideration.

A survey of 50 communities carried out by the KGSt shows that optimised management of community sports facilities is absolutely necessary. 67% of the communities asked stated that community sports facilities are focus points in their budget consolidation concept. Only 35% of the communities interviewed already use key index figures and comparison values to support management.

A lack of key index figure management can also be seen in the target formulations of community budgets. Often, rather general formulations are used such as, "Sports facilities should be run within an appropriate financial framework and made available according to demand". A more detailed definition of these targets or even a resulting definition of target achievement using key figures is usually not carried out.

Feedback from the comparison communities shows that long-term definition and reporting of key index figures can help not only to achieve better definition of local target figures, but also to give sports administration more significance for the public in general and political actors. The fact that matters regarding community sports facilities are indeed interesting for inhabitants and politicians, can be seen the number of local people who are members of sports clubs organised in regional associations – between 18% and 39% for the communities participating in the comparison group. This means that local sport is of great interest to a large fraction of the population, whose interests with regard to sports facilities must be represented by community politics.

In order not to rely solely on their own expert knowledge, sports administration bodies need additional arguments which can be generated from a comparison of key index figures to provide "hard figures, data and facts". How to work with key figures and comparison values can be seen taking sports facility maintenance as an example.

If the intention of a community is only to achieve low maintenance costs for their sports facilities, these should be equipped with clay surfaces. The comparison shows clearly however, that this kind of conclusion should be drawn from an evaluation of several key index figures or a complete system of figures as opposed to one factor only.

The German research institute for agricultural development and landscape architecture (Forschungsgesellschaft für Landschaftsentwicklung und Landschaftsbau e.V., FLL) has published guideline values for value-preserving care of these three play area surfaces. According to these, annual costs per m² of playing area of:

  • 4.00 Euro for grass sport pitches,
  • between 0.80-1.80 Euro for artificial turf pitches, depending on the filling material used, and
  • 2.50 Euro for clay surfaces

should be spent on value-preserving maintenance and care. The figures given in Fig. 1 show that communities spend considerably less on grass sports pitches and clay surfaces while maintenance work on artificial turf involves somewhat higher outlay.

In the analysis of key index figures from members of the comparison circle, it could clearly be seen that the quality of maintenance work differs between the communities involved in the comparison. During the analysis, the amount of maintenance work for single, core tasks (e.g. mowing, aeration, etc.) was recorded for each individual sports facility. The KGSt allocated the maintenance quality into three care standards (low, medium, high) depending on the frequency of maintenance given. This allocation of tasks and frequency of maintenance work carried out was according with recommendations made by the FLL research institute.

It can be clearly seen, that nearly half of the grass sport pitches are maintained with a low standard of care. For 13% of the grass sport pitches the maintenance work carried out is not sufficient to achieve at least a low standard of care. In these cases, no value-preservation occurs so that it can no longer be considered as sustainable sports facility management.

In addition, for the total costs of the sports facilities, it could be seen from the comparison of key index figures that lower maintenance costs per m² of playing area in the comparison communities can be seen especially when …

  • the framework infrastructure around the actual playing area was small and
  • maintenance of as many sports facilities as possible (framework infrastructure and playing areas) was delegated to clubs.

These two management approaches make it clear that future costs can be determined on the one hand already during the planning of sports facilities (selection of type of playing surface/planning of framework infrastructure) and, on the other hand, can be continually changed by drawing up maintenance agreements with end-user clubs and associations and adjustment of standards of maintenance work.

When evaluating the efficiency (cost effectiveness) of a sports facility, the use as well as the profit situation should also be taken into consideration.

The results show that the actual hours of use per year possible for artificial turf pitches in the comparison communities are more than twice as high as those for the other two playing surfaces. In the case of grass pitches, this can be put down to limitation due to bad weather conditions and it can be seen that clay surfaces are often only present as secondary playing surfaces in addition to a grass or artificial turf pitch and are therefore, not used as often.

No appreciable profits were noted by the comparison communities from sports facilities. The level of cost-coverage for sports facilities is on average in the years taken for comparison purposes, only around 0.50%. As a rule, no fees are charged for use of the facilities and sports facilities are used free of charge by schools and clubs in order to promote sporting activities. Where fees are charged, these are very low, are linked to a number of rules for exceptions and have rather more a symbolic character than for management purposes of the sports facilities involved.

It will be possible for interested communities to join the ongoing sports-facility comparison circle at the end of 2016. Member communities of the KGSt can find general information about the comparison work, key index figure systems, anonymised benchmarks and expertise reports on many communal topics on the homepage of the KGSt organisation. This information is free of charge to members of the organisation. Registration for the KGSt® portal is possible via an official email address.

On October 05/06, 2016, the KGSt is organising a further educational even in Bochum, Germany regarding management of community sports facilities using key index figures and comparisons. Information about this event can be found at www.kgst.de.

Author: Gregor Zajac, Cologne, Germany www.kgst.de



Information about the author Gregor Zajac and the KGSt:

The community office for administration management in Cologne (KGSt Köln) is a development centre for community management supported by cities, communities and regions. It was founded in 1949 in Cologne, Germany, and now has more than 1950 members.

Together with its members, the KGSt involves itself with leadership, management and organisation of community administration. It is funded by contributions from its members and proceeds from special activities such as seminars and comparison circles. This makes the KGSt independent of the state and political organisations.

Gregor Zajac has been a consultant in the KGSt business area of advisory services and comparisons since 2012. He is responsible for the organisation and moderation of the comparison circles in the fields of construction and maintenance depots, cemetery and undertaking, building management, green area maintenance, sports facilities and road repair.

Before joining the KGSt he worked for more than 20 years for Bochum city administration in a series of different expert areas. Gregor Zajac is qualified in public and business administration.

Photo: studali - fotolia.com

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