by Jack Rieger
I have an idea, and you’re going to think it’s crazy. Nevada athletics needs to terminate the football program.
If you haven’t been paying attention this season — and according to attendance numbers there are a lot of you —Nevada is 4-7 in what has been a terribly boring 2016 season. The fan turnout for Saturday’s Senior Day game against Utah State looked like a middle school play; in fact, it was the least attended game since at least 2011. To say that fans are upset with the football program is inaccurate. Fans are completely disinterested, which is worse than upset.
Smart businesses know when to cut losses and start over. The college football industry — more than any other college sport — is about how much money you have to spend on recruiting and facilities. If you don’t have the money, you have no chance of consistently competing with more affluent programs. According to a study authored by College Sports Solutions, Nevada has the smallest annual football budget in the Mountain West Conference: $7.02 million. Nevada relies heavily on fans to support the team through season ticket sales and donations, but Nevada ranked 10th out of 12 Mountain West schools in fan revenue last season and that number is trending downward.
Here’s the solution: cut the football program and sell off all the assets. People will become hysterical for about two months. Older fans who didn’t go to the Utah State game on Saturday will complain on Facebook and there might even be a protest outside the stadium, but people will get over it. Here’s the reward: Nevada will find itself with a few million dollars in cash per year along with the money earned from selling off assets like Mackay Stadium, Legacy Hall and the mascot costumes, which have to be worth a fortune.
What exactly does the University do with the extra cash and newfound real estate? I have three ideas.
Open the largest college bar in America on top of Mackay
News flash: college students like to drink alcohol. Have you seen the lines at The Rack lately? That place is making more money than Bernie Madoff in the ’90s. The only downside is it’s a $10 Uber from campus, and once you’re downtown you’re basically trapped for the night. Not anymore.
The new bar — let’s call it Mackay’s — will employ of-age students to bartend and run the business, and all profits will be pumped back into the school’s budget. Right now, a school administrator is reading this and saying, “It is ridiculous and unethical to have a public university utilize funds raised from an alcoholic institution.” Is it though? Over one-third of all funding for Nevada’s public schools comes from taxes on the gaming industry. The state is using people’s dependencies to fund the budget and it’s completely genius. The only difference here is the school is also running the bar.
Think about the kind of bar you could create with a few million dollars; it would make the Wal look like a Sonic Drive-In. It has to be at least three stories, host a live performer every weekend and include a foam pit. Mackay’s would be the most talked about college bar in America.
Build an enormous parking garage
Finding a place to park at Nevada is harder than finding Osama bin Laden. Students desperately circle neighborhoods and sketchy dirt lots every day in an effort to park their cars for free. Side note: if you get a parking citation, place the ticket under the windshield wiper of your car for a few weeks and fool the ticketer into thinking you’ve already been cited.
This garage would be absolutely massive, and the surge of parking passes created would drive down the price of parking across the campus and still increase revenue. A badass sky bridge would be built from the old stadium parking garage to the new parking garage and would serve as an ideal place for sorority girls to take dramatic Instagram pictures on the way to class. The garage would include state of the art elevators and a lift service that takes students to different spots on campus. Bottom line: convenient, cheap parking is better than an average football program.
Open a snowboarding/skiing trail
This is definitely the most ambitious idea of the three, but it has the greatest potential. Nevada builds a snowboarding trail that starts at the intersection of McCarran and Virginia, whips by the medical school, turns toward the post office and then hits a perfect straightaway to the south end of the stadium. According to Google Maps, the trail would range approximately 830 yards and would probably offer the speed and difficulty of the bunny hill at NorthStar.
The school would charge students a day pass for $40 or $10 per ride. This would immediately become a major attraction for sorority and fraternity socials and would lure food and drink vendors. The school would need to use the funds to buy those massive snowmaking machines so the slope could stay open for four months, but it’s completely worth it. Just imagine mobbing the Mackay slope, ditching your skis or snowboard at the bottom, grabbing a hot chocolate and heading to class. Would you rather have a snowboarding trail on campus or watch an average college football program go 6-6 every year? Make sure to address your letters to Athletic Director Doug Knuth.
Jack Rieger can be reached on Twitter @JackRieger or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.