The Nevada Board of Regents on Friday authorized the University of Nevada's planned $3.9 million lawsuit against the Worth Group, which was the architect of two Mackay Stadium renovations in recent years.
The Wolf Pack first renovated Mackay Stadium prior to the 2016 season at a cost around $14 million. After it was found to not be ADA compliant following the renovation, Mackay Stadium underwent a second renovation of around $2 million. Both were designed by Worth Group, which has refused to pay for the costs of the last renovation and a future needed renovation, per Nevada.
UNR hired Ed Roether, an industry recognized architect with national experience in ADA design of sports facilities, to issue a report on the current state of the stadium from an ADA perspective. Roether reviewed the design services by Worth Group and concluded the services failed to comply with applicable ADA standards, which will require an additional renovation to take place after the conclusion of the 2019 season.
At issue is the number of wheelchair seats in the 25,799-seat stadium. Per Roether's report, the number of compliant wheelchair spaces is 76, far less than the 140 required by ADA standards for a stadium that has 25,601-25,800 seats. Additionally, the east side boxes are required to have wheelchair spaces but do not. Finally, the west side boxes do not provide lines of sight over standing spectators for spectators in wheelchairs, per Roether.
"Based upon my observations of the 2015 design documents, it is my professional opinion that the Worth Group lacked a basic understanding of the accessibility requirements for incorporating wheelchair seating in assembly areas with fixed seating," wrote Roether, who has 40 years of experience in the field. "Although a sufficient number of wheelchair spaces and companion seats were were provided with the seating alterations, they were not provided with substantially equivalent, or better, viewing angles as other spectators during football games and few of them were integral with other seating. This opinion was reinforced with the 2017 accessible seating remodel. While greater integration was provided with the 2017 design, essentially a little over half of the wheelchair spaces provided fully complied with the standards.
"It has been my experience that architects familiar with the accessibility requirements for wheelchair seating in assembly areas with fixed seating would not make basic mistakes observed in the Worth Group's design documents. It is also my professional opinion that it is technically feasible for the design to incorporate wheelchair seating in compliance with the standards. Therefore, as much as I don't want to say this about another architect, I have concluded that there is a reasonable basis for filing action against the Worth Group."
Joe Arrascada, a former Wolf Pack football season-ticket holder who is wheelchair user, spoke at the Regents' Friday meeting and asked the Regents to tour the stadium in a wheelchair following the conclusion of the third renovation.
Worth Group also was the architect behind UNR's $40 million E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center and the Wolf Pack's athletic academic center.