• Recreation Departments Restructure to Maximize Efficiency

    by Emily Attwood February 2012

    Cities and recreation departments have been slashing services and staff, struggling to operate within their budgets without sacrificing programs.

  • Commonsense Business Practices for an Improving Economy

    by AB Staff September 2011

    For the first time in four years, we’re getting ourselves prepared for growth. In our little corner of the world, we’re not sure that things have gotten better, but they seem to have stopped getting worse — and we want to take advantage of opportunities that should present themselves soon. However, we’re not forgetting the hard lessons learned over the past few years.

  • Study Quantifies Economic Impact of UW Athletics

    by Paul Steinbach May 2011

    Fans attending a University of Wisconsin men's basketball game spend an average of $98.25 while in Madison, and that doesn't include the purchase price of the tickets. The typical Badger football fan drops $232.53 (excluding tickets) during his or her stay (nearly 76 percent of fans eat in local restaurants, and 11 percent book lodging). Even when not attending games, fans on average purchase $156.27 worth of UW merchandise annually. All told, UW athletics contributes $970 million to the state's economy, according to a study conducted by NorthStar Economics Inc.Wisconsin has led the Big Ten Conference in men's basketball attendance eight of the past nine seasons, and its football program ranked 16th in attendance among Football Bowl Subdivision schools last fall, according to the NCAA. "When you think about it, it's a powerful economic force when you have that many people spending money for meals and hotels and transportation and merchandise," UW athletic director Barry Alvarez told local sports journalist and broadcaster Mike Lucas at

  • When to Keep Field Maintenance In-House and When to Hire a Pro

    by David Nardone and Mark Novak April 2011

    Maintaining athletic fields is crucial to their performance, and doing it right takes expertise, time and money. For some athletic departments, in-house capabilities are more than sufficient and save the added costs of hiring outside professionals.

  • Clubs Benefit from Aggressive Collections Efforts

    by AB Staff April 2011

    One of the smartest business decisions we've made in recent years was to become more aggressive with our collections procedures for overdue accounts. This hasn't made us particularly popular with, ahem, certain members, but it has helped our cash flow and made us more confident that we are treating all of our members fairly.

    For years, we gently followed up on members who were 30, 60 and 90 days (or more) overdue, even using an outside agency to do so, but the real change was when we went to "Level 2" collections. If you've ever been in Level 2 collections for anything, you know that those collectors want their money. Their efforts with regard to our members are never rude or unprofessional, but they are persistent and effective, and our collections efforts are now paying dividends beyond the money we've collected.

  • Blog: David Barton Gym's Demise Is Simple Economics

    by Rob Bishop and Barry Klein March 2011

    The news that David Barton Gym has filed for bankruptcy protection was another kick in the teeth for our industry. It also should serve as a reminder to every health club owner that the next new thing is not necessarily the right thing.

  • Club-Owner Strategies for Finding, Saving, Managing Cash

    by AB Staff January 2011

    This is for all of you who were stumped over the holidays when a relative asked, "So, how's business?" — given that you have no access to capital and your product is considered a discretionary expense by most consumers.

    All sorts of observations and advice, usually proffered by people who don't actually run a business, have left us speechless as the Great Recession has dragged on. Perhaps you've read those articles on "How to Manage Cash Flow in a Down Economy," which advise business owners to "Get out there and sell!"

    Gee — thanks!

    Or, perhaps you share our disgust with bankers. We had at least four local loan officers actually say to us, "It looks like you had a rough 2008." Uh. . . yeah. Maybe you read about the worst economy since the Great Depression? It was in all the papers, and you bankers had something to do with it. . . ?

  • AB Conference: Doing More With Less

    by Nicholas Brown December 2010

    For the hundreds of attendees representing parks and recreation agencies, a running theme through the early stages of this year's Athletic Business Conference & Expo has been doing more with less.

  • Corporate Fitness Programs Add Value, Even if Difficult to Track

    by Paul Steinbach October 2010

    Corporate fitness professionals believe in the value of their programs, even if returns are difficult to track.

  • Non-Conference Scheduling Leads to Lopsided Scores, Balanced Books

    by Paul Steinbach October 2010

    Paid-game scheduling agreements often lead to lopsided scores, but they help many schools balance their books.