Sports Recreation Facility Insurance, including General Liability, for indoor and outdoor sports recreation facilities
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Sports facilities, also known as sportsplexes, are complicated to insure because all the various team, league, clinic/sports camp, and public drop-in liability exposures are present under one roof. Below is a brief listing of some sportsplex exposures, but more detailed information can be found in our article, “General Liability Concerns for Sportsplexes.”
- TEAMS/LEAGUES, whether the organizations are managed by the sportsplex or by outside organizations that lease the premises.
- CAMPS/CLINICS/INDIVIDUAL SPORTS INSTRUCTORS, whether actually managed by the sportsplex or the facility is leased to conduct activities.
- SPECIAL EVENTS, which can include parties, sleep-ins, fundraisers, company social outings, etc.
- PUBLIC DROP-INS, where the public pays one-day fees to participate in activities.
- PRODUCT SALES, such as food, drinks, alcoholic beverages, sporting goods, clothing, etc.
- 24 HOUR PREMISES, because a sportsplex either owns the facilities or has a long-term lease, it bears the responsibility for any injuries occurring after hours and/or the off season.
Food concessions and alcohol sales
Food concessions pose a liability risk from improper food handling that can result in food poisoning. We offer tips below to help prevent such risks. More information on concession safety is available in our “Food Safety in Concessions” article and infographic.
- Concession stands are required to adhere to all local food licensing and permit laws and regulations.
- Proper food handling training should be mandatory for all concession workers and management.
- Food items should only be purchased from trustworthy, good-quality sources.
- Never purchase or serve food past its date of expiration.
- Discourage the sale of foods prepared at home, other than baked goods.
Sportsplexes selling alcoholic beverages may liable for injuries to patrons or third parties that result from such sales under the following circumstances:
- Patron is not of legal drinking age
- The patron is obviously intoxicated
- Laws or ordinances imposing “strict liability” for the sale of alcoholic beverages, even if such sale was the “proximate cause” of the injury can’t be proved.
Please see our article “Liquor Liability for Sportplexes” for more information on this topic.
Leasing the facility
Sportsplexes often make their facilities available to other organizations in exchange for rental income or to accommodate community events. The owners and management are always at risk of something going awry when someone else has use of or is controlling the property. As such, it’s important to guard against lawsuits with a facility lease agreement which includes an indemnification/hold harmless provision and an insurance requirements provision. The indemnification/hold harmless provision should require the lessees (outside facility users) to indemnify and hold harmless the facility owner and respective directors, officers, employees, volunteers, staff, etc. against all claims of third party liability (ex: spectator and participant injury), including reasonable attorney’s fees, in the event the lessee is either wholly or partially negligent. We have much more information on leasing of facilities in the risk management section of our website.
Waivers and releases
A waiver/release is a contract that attempts to excuse or relieve the sportsplex owner and employees for injuries arising from risks in an activity including the inherent risks of that activity (such as a fall from a rock climbing wall). It’s important that your sportsplex have a well-drafted waiver/release prepared by an attorney for all participants to sign before participating in activities in the facility. In the event of minors, the waiver/release should be signed by both the parent/guardian and the minor. Waiver/release agreements should be required of all participants, whether managed by the sportsplex or by an outside user group. You can learn much more about the complexities of waivers and releases in our article “Are Waiver/Releases Worth the Paper They Are Written On?”
Signage in a sportsplex serves two roles: The first is for the safety of patrons and the second is to protect the business and employees from liability claims. There are various type of signs, each of which protect against different risks.
- Warning signs serve to remind patrons of safety procedures and caution them of potential dangers. Wet floors in restrooms and concession areas and improper use of equipment are examples of things to which patrons need to be alerted.
- Policies and procedures signs range from general policies posted at the front desk to issues of sanitation and courtesy throughout the facility. Examples include minimum age requirements of patrons and policies regarding food and beverages in activity areas.
- Announcement signs alerting customers about special events and classes should be placed so they don’t interfere with or distract from any safety or policy signs.
- Directional signs designating exits, ADA-facilities and equipment, emergency exit plans, location of safety equipment (fire extinguishers, first aid kits, alarms, etc.) should be professionally generated and posted according to local building regulations.
Any organization that supervises kids has a legal responsibility to prevent injuries of any kind. Child abuse and molestation, unfortunately, can take place anywhere, and any program where adults supervise children is fertile ground for predators. There is no foolproof method to prevent sexual abuse and molestation, but safeguards can be put in place. We encourage you to visit our risk management section where we provide for free a Child Abuse and Molestation Protection Program, Child Abuse and Molestation Handout for Parents, and specific information on conducting criminal background checks.