Mackay Field and Mackay Stadium were made possible through the extensive generosity of Clarence Mackay, son and heir of Comstock silver baron John Mackay. In 1908, the same year that he provided funding for the Mackay School of Mines, the John Mackay statue, and the university quad, Clarence Mackay turned toward improving the campus athletic facilities.
Prior to this, those facilities had consisted of a gymnasium, located on the current site of the Ansari Business Building, and Evans Field, a natural hollow to its northeast rented from J.N. Evans, where football games were played. Built in 1896, the gymnasium served as a physical education facility, dance pavilion, and auditorium, and allowed the University of Nevada to be competitive in intercollegiate sports for the first time. It was home to the 1899 women's indoor basketball team, which secured the first real intercollegiate victory won by a University of Nevada team.
In 1908, Clarence Mackay purchased Evans Field and deeded it to the university, and paid for the construction of the Mackay Stadium to provide a better facility for hosting sports practices and games for such sports as football, rugby, and track and field. The stadium had an oval, quarter-mile cinder track surrounding a new and improved football field, and rows of concrete bleachers that could seat 2,700 people. The stadium won praise as a sign of the University's continued growth and dedication to a quality sports program.
When the University of Nevada football team played their first game in Mackay Stadium on dedication day, Saturday, October 23, 1909, it was considered one of the finest athletic facilities on the west coast of the United States. In 1910, a two-story brick building known as the Training Quarters was completed beside the field, to allow University of Nevada teams to train nearby.
The location of the former athletic field and stadium is now known as Hilliard Plaza or Hilliard Quad, and is surrounded by the Ansari Business Building, Mack Social Sciences Building, Schulich Lecture Hall, the Chemistry Building, the Leifson Physics building, and the Reynolds School of Journalism. A plaque commemorating the stadium can be found on a rock in the north-center of the plaza.