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Significant Mackay Stadium upgrades approved

University of Nevada, Reno

Next year, Mackay Stadium on the University of Nevada, Reno campus will undergo renovations costing more than $11 million. Reno Public Radio's Esther Ciammachilli reports the Nevada Board of Regents approved the plan Friday.

Construction is expected to get underway a year from now so the upgrades can be done before the 2016 season. Doug Knuth, UNR's director of athletics, says that, right now, the stadium poses some real safety concerns that need to be addressed.

"You wouldn't believe it," he says, "but there are no handrails in our entire stadium, so folks that have mobility issues have a hard time in our stadium. Frankly, we have people fall almost every single game, and our fans say, 'You know, I'm not coming back; it's just not safe for me.'"

Other upgrades include adding more seating options for fans with disabilities and replacing uncomfortable metal bleachers with seats that have back support.

These changes will reduce the stadium's capacity from 30,000 fans to about 26,000, and season ticket prices will jump a couple hundred dollars depending on where you're sitting.

"There will be an increase because, frankly, that's the one way we finance the stadium project," Knuth explains. "Right now in our Mountain West Conference in football, we're the lowest season ticket price in the conference."

Under the plan approved last week, UNR will borrow more than $11 million for the project and pay that money back over time with ticket sales. Knuth says no funding will come from the state, from tax payers, or from student fees.

Ultimately, the price hike will make the Wolf Pack's season tickets the 7th most expensive in the Mountain West Conference.

Esther Ciammachilli is a former part-time broadcaster at KUNR Public Radio.
Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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