March 12, 2020

What is the Cost of Commercial Playground Equipment?

"How much does commercial playground equipment cost?"
 

This is a common question we receive from school customers, recreation directors, church committees and other youth organizations. For schools, it is also a very important question because they want to provide the best possible playground experience despite operating within limited budgets.

Playgrounds provide many benefits for children and communities. They are essential to physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development in children. Parks, schools, churches and other youth organizations utilize playgrounds to encourage free, unstructured play so children can explore the world around them and interact with children of all ages and abilities. Moreover, a well-designed playground can encourage children to develop healthy, active habits that last a lifetime.

With so many benefits, many communities look for opportunities to add playgrounds within close proximity to apartments, schools, and single-family homes. The cost of a new playground is sometimes surprising to new purchasers. Here is a breakdown of the cost of commercial playground equipment, and how to fund your purchase.

Start With a Playground Equipment Budget

We typically tell customers to consider the number of children will use the equipment at one time. For a large school, this number may be 50, 60, or more children at once. For a community park or HOA playground, this may be a smaller number. Determining that number will help you set your budget.

You should budget around $1,000 per child. That makes the average cost of playground equipment between $15,000 and $50,000. If you are looking for a larger play structure with inclusive (accessible) features or a custom design, set a budget closer to $150,000.

Playground Budget Cost Breakdown

Equipment

Playground equipment is usually the largest line item on a playground budget. Consider high-quality products from a reputable manufacturer to ensure the playground will last decades, not years. A well-made playground system will account for 50-60% of your total budget. 

Installation

Approximately 20-35% of your playground budget will be spent on installation. It’s important to utilize certified installers to make sure the equipment is installed properly and according to national standards. You can save some money on this step by asking your playground provider to assist with a volunteer or community build. In this scenario, a certified installer is on-hand to train and assist volunteers. 

Preparing the site

A good portion of the playground budget will be spent on getting the site ready for installation. If you are removing an old playground or require a lot of earth-moving or site grading, this can be a significant cost. You also need to budget for things like drainage, playground surfacing, landscaping, or fencing. 
 

Shipping costs

Depending on your site, and its distance from the manufacturer, your shipping and freight costs can take up 5-15% of your budget. Talk with your playground planner about the cost of shipping early in the process so you can plan for it.

Paying For Playground Equipment

School Budget

It’s no secret budgets are often stretched thin in schools. That doesn’t mean the school district doesn’t have some funds they can contribute to the project. Even if the school or district can’t fund the entire project, ask for a contribution of matching donation.

PTA/PTO

Leverage your parents and teachers to set up a fundraising effort, or many of them, to raise money toward the purchase of new playground equipment. It is sometimes difficult for a PTA to raise the entire budget during a single school year. Consider what you can raise in a year and discuss building your new play area in stages, adding freestanding play equipment, or refurbishing an existing play area. 

Grants

There are a lot of organizations that provide grant funding for a school playground. Some estimates project there is more than $3 billion in funding available for playgrounds to help children stay active. GameTime offers a funding guide with a listing of hundreds of grant opportunities. You can request a free copy here.

Private Donors

Reach out to community businesses, school alum and other individuals who may be willing to donate toward your new playground. You can offer opportunities to honor their donations with signs, benches, plaques and other areas of recognition. 

An Investment That Pays For Itself

When you plan a new playground, you’re making a large financial investment in commercial playground equipment. However, this is an investment in the health and well-being of current and future students. The long-term positive effects are well-studied and essential to long-term childhood development.

If you have questions about planning, designing, or budgeting a new playground for your school, contact the GameTime playground expert in your community. We can help you every step of the way, and make this a fun, easy, and rewarding experience for you and your school.