Using ArcGIS to Future-Proof Sports and Recreation Facilities


How Many Junior Athletes Does it Take to Make a Sports Club? 

Running any business requires some level of future planning, but sports clubs in particular face a unique set of challenges.  The predominantly younger clientele means that sports clubs are peculiarly vulnerable to demographic shifts; so continuing engagement from children and adolescents is a key to future-proofing businesses in this industry.  Since 2017, we’ve been working with Visitor Solutions on a variety of projects using mapping analytics to meet these challenges.

Who are Visitor Solutions?

Visitor Solutions are a New Zealand organisation who work with a number of different companies in tourism, sports and recreation, and community development.  Success in these fields often comes down to having the right strategies, developing the right facilities, attracting the right visitors, and being able to increase numbers of participants where necessary for growth. In order to make these decisions and give recommendations, having up to date, reliable mapping analytic insights is essential. In our work together, we’ve been able to use ArcGIS mapping tools to help Visitor Solutions analyse and strategise more effectively.


Using ArcGIS for Analysis

Using our location analytics solutions, Visitor Solutions were able to make a clear assessment of future demand among sports clubs by age group across the Bay of Plenty and parts of Waikato.  The key question was whether sports facilities would continue to effectively service their regions as demographics change.  Combining the clubs’ business-specific data with contextual data about roads, travel times, and populations, we helped them rapidly model the population growth of 5-15 year olds within a one-hour drive of local sports clubs.


Calculating Catchment Areas 

For this analysis we defined a club’s catchment area as the area within one hour’s drive of the club.  The most basic way to find out who lives within a one-hour drive of any given location is to start at the given location and drive for an hour in every direction.  Of course this is hardly practicable in real life.  Luckily ArcGIS Pro has specialist mapping tools designed to automate processes like this.  Using known drive times from sources such as the AA, we can display the catchment area for each of the clubs in our target region at a single click.


Projecting Population

Having generated the catchment areas using the tools from ArcGIS Pro, it was time to combine this business information with population projections.  We looked at’s 2013 census data, and their projections for 2043.  Combining these with the original catchment information gave us an interactive map with data layers which could be added or taken away with the click of a button.  In the map pictured below, a user can filter information by specific sports clubs, drive times, or age groups – and compare the current statistics for each with the projected figures for 25 years in the future.

15 minute drive times around each club, with a particular age group population total and projection.

15 minute drive times around each club, with a particular age group population total and projection.

Future-proofing Made Easy

Using the maps they designed with our help, Visitor Solutions created a report providing insight into future demand for facilities, outlining ideal activity, and highlighting opportunities for funding and growth.  Using ArcGIS mapping technology and readily-available public information alongside business-specific data provides powerful new ways of sharing and analysing knowledge. 



To find out how Location Analysis tools can work for you, get in touch: