Football and alcohol still mix in Mackay Stadium

Scott Sonner, AP Writer. RENO, Nev. (AP) — Concerned some intoxicated fans are making Nevada’s Mackay Stadium something less than family friendly, school officials appealed Thursday for good sportsmanship at Saturday’s game against rival UNLV.

“This is the big game,” school president Milton Glick told reporters.

“We really want to win this game. We believe we will win the game,” he said. “At the same time, we want to welcome the fans from Las Vegas.”

“We want people who come up from UNLV to say, ‘Wow, when we come to Reno, they really treat us well except on the football field,’” Glick said.

“We think you can be a true advocate for the team and great fans, loud fans and show class.”

Glick said he, athletic director Cary Growth and coach Chris Ault called the news conference as part of “a big all-out effort this year to create that fan-friendly atmosphere.”

“We want families to be comfortable coming to the game,” he said.

School officials said earlier that security guards will deny entrance to visibly intoxicated fans. Starting Saturday and continuing through the season, alcohol sales will be limited to one drink per person, per purchase and that sales — which typically stop at the end of halftime — can be discontinued at any point.

“Sometimes we’ve got some folks who come in and — whether it’s the home team or the visiting team — who drank a little too much,” Groth said. “We try to control that and game by game, I think we are getting better.”

“Our fans and community leaders expect our student athletes to operate in a first-class manner and that’s what we expect of our fans. It goes both ways,” Groth said.

A sellout or near-capacity crowd is expected for Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. game at Mackay Stadium, the scene of some past hostilities between the two rivals.

In 2003, then UNLV coach John Robinson was struck in the head by a plastic bottle thrown by a fan from the stands as his team left the field after a 16-12 victory. The fan was arrested and Robinson was unharmed.

In 1995, there were two on-field brawls, 25 ejections and six arrests. Glick said security will not refuse entry to fans wearing T-shirts being sold in Reno with “F UNLV” on the front.

But “we are going to discourage people from wearing T-shirts that might embarrass families,” he said.

He said 5,000 blue T-shirts that say “Stay True” will be provided to the first fans through the student gate.

“We hope they’ll agree to put those on over the T-shirt they bought some place that I think is in bad taste,” he said.

Ault said Mackay Stadium has a tradition of being fan friendly and he’s counting on strong support on Saturday.

“I’ve always told everybody half the team is on the field, the other half is in the stands,” the coach said. “When the environment is right and all the energy is centered toward the football team itself, toward the game itself, this is an electric stadium. That is what we need. We need people to be behind the Pack.”

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