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Pack leaves the WAC
by Harry Spencer
Aug 20, 2010 | 1095 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Breaking news on Wednesday was the fact that the University of Nevada, Reno’s athletic program had decided to accept the invitation to join the Mountain West Conference (MWC), thus leaving the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) with only six teams, since Fresno State also jumped to the MWC.

In what seems to be a win for Nevada fans, since they now will see a much higher caliber brand of competition in the major sports, the decision might be a tough one for the cash-strapped UNR to handle as it will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million for the local school to buyout its WAC commitment.

What might also be a downside at “the campus on the hill” is that it is once again facing its arch rival Boise State, which was the first school to jump to the MWC. Also, Fresno State, which can often be a thorny competitor, particularly in football, is likewise jumping to the MWC.

The strangest part of the story occurred when it was revealed that the University of Nevada, Las Vegas — Nevada’s most hated rival — played a large role in getting the Mountain West to tender the invitation to the Wolf Pack.

Whether or not the WAC can survive as a six-member conference is another facet of the shakeup. Some insiders believe that the remaining WAC teams might go elsewhere to be absorbed. They also say that Hawaii might opt for independent status, as Brigham Young University has indicated they are considering.

The state of flux in college football began with the Pac 10 adding a couple of teams, the Big 10 expanding and several teams “on the bubble” when it comes to future alignment.

The driving force behind all of this is television dollars, which are becoming the mainstay of many of many college athletic programs. Lucrative TV deals are the main factors in BYU’s indecision as to whether to remain in the MWC or opt for independent status in football and relegate their other sports to competition in the WAC.

Whatever the case, the pluses for Nevada will be that it will get rid of long, costly and onerous travel to faraway places, it will probably enhance its recruiting clout and its lackluster home game attendance should improve.

Reno Aces

As the local Reno Aces baseball team heads into the final home games of its second season here, everyone agrees that it has become an outstanding success, due in no small measure to the state-of-the-art stadium in which the team plays.

Even those fans who are used to attending baseball games in major league facilities are high in their praise of the Reno ballpark. Many liken it to a miniature version of the retro Giants Stadium in San Francisco.

Even the other façade has done much to enhance the area that was one of the most blighted in the downtown core. With amenities for dining and bar action, the streets surrounding the ballpark have seen a new resurgence. The foot traffic has also become huge, particularly on game days.

Having a manager of the caliber of Brett Butler has also burnished the Aces image and while the team is not likely to be in contention for post-season play this year, it has not quelled the excitement and appreciation of the fans, who say the experience is worth the trip downtown.

Now that the Aces’ ownership has also purchased the local NBA development league, the Reno Bighorns, it looks as if that entire section of town will see a tremendous renaissance, especially when the new bus station opens and creates even more room for the expansion of shops and other retail in the Freight House District.

Celebrity Corner

A couple of top-ranked movie stars that had ties to northern Nevada appeared in and old 1946 movie on the cable channel recently. The flick was entitled “Tarnished Angels” and it starred Robert Stack and Jack Carson. While Carson was here to do some filming on a “Bonanza” segment some time ago, he also appeared as a headliner in the Mapes Sky Room. Coincidentally, Carson’s co-star in the “Two Guys from” series of big screen pictures, Dennis Morgan, was also a Mapes headliner on many occasions.

As for Stack, he was in the area regularly since his family owned a large vacation complex at Lake Tahoe on the Cal Neva point at Crystal Bay on the north shore.

One of his favorite spots to hang out and socialize, as well as get some exercise, was the Tahoe Racquet Club, which opened in 1965 in nearby Incline Village. Usually, Robert was in the company of his brother, Jim Stack, who was literally considered a local because of the great deal of time that he spent at the Crystal Bay enclave.

On several occasions, some of us from the racquet club would be invited to the Stack compound, which was an unusual set up because every one of the major rooms was located in separate buildings, which were connected to one another by outside staircases.

Not too long ago, the Stack estate was advertised for Sale at a hefty price but this writer is not certain of whether or not it sold.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in Harry Spencer’s column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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Pack leaves the WAC by Harry Spencer

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