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Circus Circus to House UNR Students Displaced by Dorm Explosion



About 1,300 University of Nevada, Reno students who were to live in two on-campus dormitories that got damaged in an explosion last month will be housed at Circus Circus Reno.

UNR announced Thursday that it came to a lease agreement with Eldorado Resorts Inc. for almost $22 million, which will form part of the university’s insurance claim. Housing rates will remain the same for students.

UNR Residential Life and Housing will occupy the non-gaming Sky Tower of Circus Circus, 500 N. Sierra St. It has renamed the interim hall Wolf Pack Tower, which will be staffed by university employees. Students will have a separate entrance than hotel/casino patrons and around-the-clock security with a police substation.

Parking will be available and shuttles will transport students to and from campus. The location of Wolf Pack Tower is five blocks from the south end of campus and approximately a half mile from the Quad, 0.8 miles from the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, and one mile from the Joe Crowley Student Union.

UNR President
Marc Johnson.
Image: UNR.

“We are happy to see our plan for a seamless integration of Wolf Pack Tower into the university’s housing experience realized,” UNR president Marc Johnson said in a statement. “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.”

Classes for the fall semester are scheduled to start Aug. 26.

Dining facilities for residence hall students with meal plans will be available through two temporary structures, built sequentially. A mobile kitchen and temporary tent structure will be in the plaza east of Great Basin Hall. The Overlook Café will also continue to operate.

Later in the fall, UNR plans to open a semi-permanent dining facility over the lawn between Thompson Hall and Jot Travis Student Union.

Argenta and Nye halls were left uninhabitable July 5. According to the state fire marshal, a 3-inch gas line feeder was severed at the junction from the initial explosion that occurred about 12:43 p.m.

There was active fire from the line, causing the sprinkler system and alarm to trigger. A second explosion took place at about 1 p.m. Fire from the initial explosion was extinguished by the building’s suppression system. Natural gas then filled the basement area where the two boilers are located and traveled to the upper portions of Argenta Hall.


The main gas line was shut off from the exterior of the building. It was the second explosion that caused significant damage to both dorms and eight people suffered minor injuries.

The two water-tube boilers in Argenta Hall were last inspected Jan. 10, 2018, by a state-certified, third-party boiler inspection company and permits were to expire Jan. 10, 2020.

According to the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations, there was no history of violations involving the boilers. The fire marshal subsequently inspected boilers at the other UNR dorms and deemed them safe.

For additional information about Wolf Pack Tower, visit unr.edu/housing.

UNR Dorm Damage

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.




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