The University Club of Milwaukee in downtown Milwaukee and the Tripoli Country Club in northern Milwaukee plan to merge.
[caption id="attachment_141593" align="alignright" width="339"] Milwaukee business and civic leaders discuss city development at a November Greater Milwaukee Committee meeting at the University Club.[/caption]
The private clubs’ boards have each approved a non-binding letter of intent for the combination.
"This is a merger of two historic clubs that have been in Milwaukee for a long time,” said Charley Weber, president of Tripoli's board of governors and managing director and senior associate general counsel at Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. "It’s a partnership, not a financial transaction at all.”
The Tripoli Country Club was founded in 1921. It is located at 7401 N. 43rd St. in Brown Deer, off of Good Hope Road, and has about 350 members. It offers a top-rated golf course, swimming, tennis, paddle tennis and winter activities, as well as dining and meeting and event spaces. TCC has about 150 employees, 25 of whom are full-time.
The University Club was founded in 1898 and is located at 924 E. Wells St. downtown and near the lakefront. It has about 450 members, said Julie Tolan, president of the University Club board of directors. The University Club offers casual and fine dining, meeting and event facilities, enrichment and educational programming and other city amenities. University Club has 34 full-time and 24 part-time employees.
Tolan, who is also president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, said the clubs hope to complete the merger by the end of the year.
The University Club’s membership and revenue saw some decline over a five year period, but then recovered “modestly” over the past two years with the help of renovations, Tolan said. The combination of the clubs will offer members additional amenities and hopefully attract more young professionals, she said.
“From both perspectives, I think both of our memberships are going to utilize this new whole club more frequently as a result,” Tolan said. “There’s recruitment and retention, but there’s also usage.”
Their memberships will separately vote on the plan in the fall, though no specific dates have been set. There will be town hall meetings held this summer to answer members’ questions about the merger.
“From our perspective, both clubs have been really intentional about finding different ways to enhance the value and experience for our respective members,” Tolan said. “In our case, we have many members who really are looking for a broader array of amenities, so certainly swimming, tennis, golf.”
And Tripoli’s members can take advantage of the downtown club for business purposes, she said.
"Tripoli consistently looks for ways to enhance our member experience and add value for our members and over the years, a number of our members have inquired or commented on the desirability of having downtown dining benefits or other benefits at a private club,” Weber said.
“We need to create distinction and I think between the two of our organizations, we’ve been really successful in attracting current and future leaders in the city and that’s really appealing to the Tripoli membership as well,” Tolan said.
The organizations have not yet decided what the new club’s name will be, but the University Club will at the very least retain its name on the downtown location, Tolan said.