The University of Nevada opened the doors to its newest residence in Reno this week, taking over a downtown tower that was part of the Circus Circus casino and converting it into dorm space for more than 1,300 students.
The move follows a gas explosion on July 5, which shut down two of the University’s biggest halls of residences. That led to an accommodation shortage just weeks ahead of the start of the fall term.
Though universities have housed students in private hotels before, it is thought that the University of Nevada at Reno is the first to house students in a property that is affiliated with a casino.
According to a report on local news site thisisreno.com, the university has agreed to a lease agreement of almost $22 million with the Eldorado Resorts Inc.-owned casino to take over the downtown tower.
Previously known as the Sky Tower, the newly renovated structure at 500 N. Sierra Street has been renamed the Wolf Pack Tower and will be completely separate from the casino and its facilities.
Alongside their own entrance, residents at the tower will have a key-card entry system, round-the-clock security and a shuttle service to nearby campuses. They will also have use of the casino’s parking facilities, according to an Associated Press report. Other facilities include a convenience store and coffee shop, alongside a study hall that had been built in the former hotel wedding chapel.
The circus-themed casino which features live acts, acrobats and trapeze artists, says it is looking forward to working closely with the university.
"Eldorado Resorts will do everything within our reach to ensure that Wolf Pack students are provided a quality living experience," Anthony Carano, president and chief operating officer of Eldorado Resorts, told Capital Public Radio.
"The university community is fortunate that our longtime community partner Eldorado Resorts understands what the needs of our program are and has agreed to work with us on transitioning their property into a residence space where our students will live, study and thrive," university President Marc Johnson added.
Though the university plans to repair the dorms damaged in the explosion, students who planned to stay in halls of residence could face a wait of up to two years before their accommodations are fit for habitation.
That has caused some consternation however, with parents in particular upset about the prospect of their kids taking up residence in a casino. Indeed, according to a report from the Associated Press, a handful of people raised their concerns at a specially arranged town hall, with some students even requesting to be transferred to other accommodations.
Those fears are set to ease however as students get to know their new digs. Johnson told reporters that the school took almost complete control of the building.
“It is not a casino building. It is not a casino tower. It happens to be a hotel facility owned by a casino-hotel company," he said.