12:01 p.m., March 30, 2009----The Blue & Gold Club, a members-only dining club serving University of Delaware alumni, faculty, staff, parents, students and friends, will close July 1, 2009, as part of strategic reduction of costs, UD President Patrick T. Harker announced today. The board of directors of the University of Delaware Blue & Gold Club, a Delaware non-stock corporation, has approved a resolution authorizing the club to close and the dissolution of the corporation.
"Due to the efforts of an excellent management team and dedicated staff, the Blue & Gold Club has delivered great food and service to its members over the years, but membership has been declining and the club has been operating at a deficit. That deficit and the increasing costs of maintaining the historic building it occupies make closing the club a sensible choice," Harker said.
Established in 1971, the Blue & Gold Club is located in a 1926 Georgian house at 44 Kent Way that was given to the University in 1966. Before the opening of the club, the building served as temporary administrative office space, a women's residence hall and a student infirmary during the renovation of other buildings on the campus.
Membership in the club is $50 per year, and has declined 26 percent in the last eight years. There are currently 943 individual members, as compared to 1,274 members in 2001.
"Fine-dining restaurants such as the Blue & Gold Club have lost significant market share to casual concepts, every year during the last decade. One result has been the decline of such membership clubs nationally. When the club was originally established, there were significantly fewer dining options available on the campus and in the city of Newark," said Ron Cole, president of the Blue & Gold Club board of directors and professor of food and beverage management.
“The Blue & Gold Club was a wonderful dining option on campus but in the current economic environment it is an activity that we cannot afford to continue to subsidize,” stated UD Executive Vice President Scott Douglass.
Over the years the University and club engaged in several strategies to re-engineer the club's operations as well as marketing efforts to increase membership participation without success. Additional options, such as a dramatic increase in annual membership dues, yearly assessments or raising the price of meals would not be sufficient to offset a large operating deficit and the cost for deferred maintenance and capital improvements to the club estimated at close to $2 million over the next five years.
Staff members of the club have been informed of the closing, and, when possible, they will be considered for other positions at the University.
Future use of the building is under consideration.
"In these difficult economic times, the University is reviewing all its expenditures to ensure that our limited resources are aligned with top priorities on our Path to ProminenceTM," Douglass said. “The review of expenses and subsequent cuts to budgets was started in the fall and will continue for the foreseeable future. Some of the reductions will be made so that we can live within available revenues while others will allow the University to shift resources to cover other critical needs that had been previously funded by the endowment or the state. The timing of these decisions will vary widely. The result of these actions is that difficult decisions must be made."
In addition to the closing of the Blue & Gold Club, examples of items contributing to the reduction of expenditures include elimination of vacant positions, delay in filling staff positions, eliminating selected travel and conference expenses, delay of selected facilities maintenance, and delay in equipment replacement.