RENO — The University of Nevada, Reno, plans to spend $2 million on top of nearly $700,000 spent last year to fix accessibility mistakes made during a $14 million Mackay Stadium upgrade in 2016.
An Americans With Disabilities Act audit conducted by consultant EMG in July listed 167 compliance concerns at the 52-year-old stadium, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.
The newspaper collected complaints about distant parking, high curbs, difficult ramps, crowded elevators and troubled restrooms.
Campus President Marc Johnson acknowledged that in some cases, fans in wheelchairs can’t see the field.
“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,” he said.
With additions made since it opened in 1966, Mackay stadium now seats nearly 30,000 people.
The disabilities act prohibits discrimination in all areas of public life. For a project like the stadium renovation, it requires wheelchair and companion seats dispersed throughout the stadium and for those seats to have views of the field comparable to the views for all other spectators.
An internal investigation by the department that oversees compliance with state and federal laws found there was “cause for discrimination,” meaning it was likely that a violation occurred when the university remodeled the stadium.
WorthGroup Executive Director Douglas Worth told the Gazette Journal he had no comment about allegations that the 2016 remodel failed to implement accessibility plans and a 2017 retrofit failed to add them.
Last year, Worth told the newspaper that comments UNR made blaming his firm were not accurate, but he refused to elaborate, saying UNR asked him not to comment.
The company was paid almost $441,000 for the design of seating improvements, luxury skyboxes and an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse, according to the university.
Sean McGoldrick, UNR associate vice president of facilities services, said the university had been assured the plans complied with the disabilities act.
McGoldrick said a new architect should have plans ready in January for fixes to be completed by July 2020, including replacing 22 seats with poor line-of-sight on the east side of the stadium.
The cost would be paid for with loans, tickets sales and donor gifts.
The Nevada Department of Public Works is responsible for ensuring building codes are followed, including compliance with the federal disabilities act.
University spokeswoman Kerri Garcia said the college is committed to ensuring programs, services and activities are accessible to all people.
“The university certainly did not intend for these mistakes to occur and is committed to resolving them,” she said.