Mackay Stadium to undergo third renovation in three years

24 October 2018

The University of Nevada, Reno, can expect more construction to take place this upcoming year— however, the cause is not solely expansion of campus.

After a $14 million renovation that concluded in 2016, and a nearly $700,000 just a year later, Mackay Stadium is receiving its third renovation in just three years.

The renovation comes after several failures to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act — an act the university is required to follow by law. The ADA prohibits discrimination against all people with disabilities in all areas of public life. The stadium is required by the ADA to have wheelchair seating with accompanying seats throughout the stadium.

The primary issue with the first renovation was the inability for people in the handicapped seating to see the field when any players on the sidelines were standing — a violation of the ADA. Other elements of this renovation besides the seating included new bathrooms and luxury skyboxes.

“We did a major renovation on the stadium,” said President Marc Johnson. “We were particularly proud of the new ramps and seating for individuals in wheelchairs and their companions. What we learned in the first game was that the sight lines were not appropriate for those in wheelchairs when the football players were standing the whole game.”

President Johnson thought these new seats would be a positive element of the stadium.

“We thought we were doing a good thing and put in these great seats, only to find out you couldn’t see the field from the seats,” President Johnson said to the Reno-Gazette Journal.

Upon learning that these seats did not have adequate lines of sight, plans for a second renovation were underway, according to President Johnson.

“We immediately offered reseating for those individuals and hired a designer to replace those seats in the various sectors of the stadium,” President Johnson said.

The university quickly conducted plans to fix these wheelchair sightline issues after learning that people in those seats were unable to see the field. By fall 2017, the university added wheelchair lifts to provide seating in more areas of the stadium. The renovation neared $700,000.

Unrelated to any of the prior renovations of Mackay Stadium, the university hired a firm in the fall of 2017 to update the Campus ADA Transition Plan, according to university spokeswoman Kerri Garcia.

The firm conducted an inspection of multiple areas on campus “to identify ADA barriers at multiple facilities both on and off-campus,” Garcia said.

Mackay Stadium was one of the areas inspected. The inspection found 167 areas for concern in the stadium, according to the RGJ.

The firm also emphasized the need to fix the line-of-sight issues created in the 2016 renovation, according to Garcia in a statement to The Nevada Sagebrush. In addition to the initial issue, the firm caught other line-of-sight issues in areas that had not been reported. In response, a new nationally-recognized architect was hired to redesign the 160+ areas that did not coincide with ADA guidelines.

In addition to the findings of the inspection, at two recent home games in the 2018 football season, the lifts added in the 2017 renovation were not functioning. This has spurred not only more ADA violations, but more plans to undergo renovations to be ADA compliant. President Johnson told the RGJ that he was unaware that the lifts were not operating.

Amongst the issues identified as ADA violations, the firm also suggested changes to the stadium to make it easier for people to get in and out of the stadium — a concern multiple wheelchair-bound people have voiced in a feature in the RGJ.

“This initial analysis has been concluded and recommends adding new ADA positions to the north and south end zones, correcting line of sight issues on the east side, and installing additional positions on the west side,” Garcia said. “To accommodate the additional positions and address other newly identified issues on the west side, it may be necessary to remove or re-configure several existing rows of loge boxes, premium seats and ADA positions, which accounts for the preliminary budget of $2.1M.”

The inspection is not the last plan for Mackay Stadium. The findings in the inspection, as well as the non-operative lifts, have spurred the third renovation for Mackay Stadium in just three years.

“The University is currently finalizing a contract for the design of these recommended changes and is pursuing a construction-manager-at-risk (CMAR) methodology that effectively teams the design firm with a construction contractor to ensure a rigorous design and constructability review to ensure a high quality project that meets ADA and building codes,” Garcia said.

The primary issue in the planning of this renovation was the timing of the football schedule and the length of work this renovation will entail. To do the repairs, the university plans for this to happen in two separate portions.

“It is envisioned that completion of the project will occur in two phases: some initial scope of work to be identified during the design process will be completed in the April through July 2019 timeframe with the remainder of the work being completed in the December 2019 through July 2020 timeframe to accommodate the football schedule,” Garcia said.