When people referred to the Big MAC during years of discussion regarding Carson City’s planned recreational facility that opens Wednesday, they weren’t exaggerating.
The multi-purpose athletic center (MAC) could be bigger, could offer more purposes for city residents or visiting competitors using it for tournaments, and if money turns up via extended good economic times it might eventually do those things via an expansion. But what citizens will see at a 2 p.m. Wednesday grand opening party is a cavernous, 41,500 square foot building including mezzanine, with a more than half of that dedicated to main floor sports court space.
The building is designed and built, according to Parks and Recreation Department Director Roger Moellendorf, with operational efficiency and ample usage in mind.
“It’s not overly fancy; there’s not a lot of fluff involved,” he said, “The whole thing is designed to operate with as few staff as possible.” The main fluff, perhaps, is the huge 24,000 square hardwood sports floor and the one-eighth of a mile second-level track for indoor walkers or joggers.
Moellendorf made his comments during a pre-party facility tour given Nevada Appeal personnel even as finishing touches were under way inside the $8.3 million structure just south of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada at 1870 Russell Way. City government has a joint-use agreement with the clubs.
During debates in 2013 and early 2014 about what size facility should be built, Big MAC and Little MAC options were on the table. In part, that was because of the fact just $6 million was available from Quality of Life (Question 18) sales tax receipts accumulated over the years. The bigger version with two stories and a second level walking/jogging track was said to be out of reach without more funding.
In 2014, the Board of Supervisors adopted a one-eighth of a penny boost in city sales tax to bridge that gap, build an animal shelter, do downtown and other business corridor capital improvements, and upgrade the Community Center’s Bob Boldrick Theater cultural capabilities and the Big MAC was on track.
The recreational facility’s supporters Wednesday will celebrate in part because this larger version of the athletic center will boast the one-eighth mile walking/jogging track with three lanes, plus a hardwood maple floor featuring two professional/collegiate basketball courts overlaid with four high school courts.
The hardwood floor’s multiple courts can be used for various court sports, Moellendorf said, with off-court storage for nets and four electronically-operated drop down curtains allowing for separate events when needed. He mentioned not only basketball and volleyball, but futsal — a Brazilian indoor soccer game — pickle ball, badminton and dodge ball.
The main floor features permanent side seating for 650, said Moellendorf, and can accommodate “tip and roll” bleachers for some additional but temporary seating at times. The facility includes energy-efficient LED lighting, sound absorbing panels, as well as eight-foot blue padding on walls for safety.
The center was designed not only to be staff-efficient, but also for ease of maintenance with low cost, according to Vern Krahn, parks planner.
It has administrative office space to the south of an entryway. At the back of the entry hallway is a wall that serves as a ball catcher on the sports courts side and a backdrop for the entry hallway leading in from the east side entry. There also is a counter in that foyer, or hallway, and staff at the counter can monitor users as they are coming in or going.
In the same area, to the north is an elevator for handicapped accessibility to the second-level walking track, as well as a stairwell for people with greater mobility.
Nearby on the main floor, also north of the entryway, are men’s and women’s bathrooms, as well as a separate, dry locker area with more than 70 lockers and more toilets. Another unisex room with possibilities for assistance to the elderly is included in that main floor complex of rooms.
On the second level, a small hallway, which is off the elevator/stairwell exits, and the track itself are overlaid with indoor/outdoor rubberized material appropriate to uses there. Parks and recreation personnel said it’s also a stretching area not far from the elevator and stairwell on that second level.
Moellendorf was asked if there was sufficient outdoor parking for the facility. He said there is, adding if more is needed on weekends for tournaments the joint agreement with the clubs’ facility to the north allows for overflow parking to go there. “If we get to the point where we don’t have enough parking,” he elaborated, “that’s a good problem to have.”
Moellendorf, though he acknowledged money needs made expansion a longer term vision, mentioned the large facility was built with options for such expansion if the city wanted more indoor recreational space eventually. He said small additions could be done to the northeast, the southeast or to the west. Such expansion could add a weight room, for example, or other possibilities.
Moellendorf said people coming to the grand opening on Wednesday should wear tennis shoes so they can immediately experience sports court activities, as well as walk or jog on the second-level track.