Of the many important anniversaries this year and next that will occur in the Truckee Meadows, probably none is more of a historical nature than that of Mackay Stadium at the University of Nevada. On Oct. 1, the official 50th anniversary of the second Mackay Stadium will occur, but the celebration took place on September 17th in the Nevada victory against the Buffalo Bulls—Wolf Pack 38-Bulls 14.
Since its debut in 1966, Mackay has undergone a number of expansions and transformations. The first major expansion occurred when former Governor Mike O’Callaghan decided to have the state contribute $750,000 for the initial expansion. Since that time, funds have come from private donations most of which were raised by dynamic fundraiser Coach Chris Ault. The most recent change to Mackay was an $11 million facelift headed by current AD Doug Knuth.
Over the years, I have attended many games at Mackay; sitting in the Eldorado Skybox, outside in Wayne Frediani’s
great seats on the 40 yard line and draped over the fence that separates the playing field from the running track speaking with photographer Don Dondero. One of the more pleasurable experiences at Mackay was to stroll around the running track at half time and then purchase refreshments.
In addition to Mackay, I had the good fortune to visit a number of elite stadiums such as the Rose Bowl, the LA Memorial Coliseum, the 49ers’ Kezar Stadium and Candlestick Park, the Raiders Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, the hallowed turf of Notre Dame Stadium and the magnificent Levi’s Stadium—current home of the 49ers. As Mackay is a much smaller enclave than those iconic venues you tend to be more involved in the contest.
Although I never trod the turf, synthetic or natural, at the current Mackay I was able to experience the lumpy field of the original Mackay Stadium. It was an extremely small football bowl that only seated 500 fans. Hundreds of other fans would park their cars on spaces just above the highest rows of seats and watch the contest in the comfort of their cars while listening to the play by play on the radio.
My personal experience occurred during spring practice in 1945 under the tutelage of crusty Coach Jim Aiken. The first day of practice was a three hour full uniform scrimmage. One of Aiken’s mottos was, “Make the practices so onerous that game day would seem to be a treat.”
The original Mackay was abandoned and eventually covered by classroom buildings and initial seating at the new Mackay was an impressive 7,500.
In addition to Mackay’s 50th birthday, the other important anniversaries that loom on the horizon for next year are the 70th birthdays of the now gone Mapes Hotel and Landrum’s Hamburger System No. 1, which is still standing at 1300 South Virginia and has undergone many transmogrifications. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Reno’s outstandingly historically-oriented G.O.D. (Good Old Days) Club.
All of the above are interesting to me because I was PR/Advertising Director at the Mapes, served as the Head Chef at Landrum’s, emcee at the G.O.D. Club and played U of N spring football on the field of the original Mackay Stadium.