Photo: Ken Lund via Flickr
Mackay Stadium as it stands on Nov. 30, 2013. The stadium is to get a new North entrance before the 2018 season.

Before the 2018 season opener on Sept. 1 against Portland State University, Mackay Stadium will have a brand new entrance awaiting game-goers.

Construction is set to begin on the entrance at Mackay’s north end before the annual Silver and Blue Spring Game on Saturday, April 28. The entrance will be called Donald L. Jensen Plaza, and was initially delayed for nearly a year due to costs.

“Earlier this spring, with fundraising completed, we moved forward in the construction process to solicit bids from local construction companies,” Wolf Pack Athletic Director Doug Knuth wrote in a letter to donors of the project during the summer of 2017. “Unfortunately, with the high demand in the local construction market, the price to complete the project jumped by nearly 100 percent from the previously estimated price and fundraising goal.”

The new plaza is planned to mirror the existing entrance at the south end complete with multiple gates, areas to mingle and an arched gateway.

“We’re trying to create a nice entrance from the north,” Knuth said last summer. “Some 60 percent of our fans park and tailgate in the north side of campus and walk into the stadium there. We’re trying to create a mirror of what we have in the southwest corner, the arched gateway and it will have three gates and a small ticket office there.”

The new plaza will also pay homage to the many people that bought bricks as a donation for the plaza’s construction.

“Once you walk into the main gates, there will be a brick plaza area where people will meet and mingle and there will be a little bit of history and some of the background of the donors. It will be a nice way to show off the entrance to the stadium. It’s time for an upgrade.”

Initially, the entrance was to be called “Champions Plaza”, but the project stagnated during an initial micro-donation campaign. The renovation was only pushed to start again when Donald L. Jensen, a longtime Wolf Pack supporter, donated a grant to kickstart construction, hence the plaza’s new name.

The Plaza is not the only revamping Mackay Stadium has received recently.

In the past three years, more than a few changes have found their way inside the stadium. In 2015, a two-story women’s bathroom was added, and during the summer of 2016, the university spent nearly $14 million on more renovations. The project included the inclusion of a club level, chair-back seats, a new video board, sound system and resurfaced track. And once more, in summer 2017, the university spent nearly $700,000 to make it ADA compliant.

Knuth says he foresees new additions in the years to come.

“The plan is to do concessions in kiosks, so it’d be more flexible,” Knuth said, who has overseen the revitalizing of Mackay the last couple of years. “There will be some concessions, but it won’t be like a concessions building.”0

Olivia Ali can be reached at karolinar@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @OliviaAliNV