Editor’s Note: Updated on August 26, 2019: To clarify San Jose State Student Union, Inc. donation in the amount of $2.5 million dollars is for the field.
San Jose State University will break ground in June on a project to build an intramural recreation field, walking path and multi-level parking garage at the university’s Bud Winter Field. San Jose State plans to build a special tribute at the site to honor those known as the “Speed City” athletes and their legendary track and field coach, Bud Winter.
The new recreational field will be used by thousands of San Jose State students. This field will be home to SJSU clubs, intramurals, ROTC practice, kinesiology classes, marching band practice, Greek life competition and other activities. A walking path around it will be open to the community members who currently use the Bud Winter Field track at South 10th Street and East Alma Avenue, which will be removed.
The university recently informed its track and field athletes that it cannot proceed with a previously announced plan to build a new track at the site, where some of its world-class Speed City athletes once trained. “After requesting proposals for construction of a track atop a planned multi-level parking structure, university administrators learned the track would cost up to $20 million more than originally anticipated, due to building-code changes,” said Charlie Faas, the university’s vice president of administration and finance. After learning of the higher-than-expected track cost, the university considered whether to build a replacement track at the university’s park-and-ride lot in the area—but the space was insufficient.
San Jose State’s Student Union, Inc. originally gave a $3 million donation for a new field. Thereafter, the $3 million was allocated as such: $2.5 million for a new field that would be used for a wide variety of student uses and $500,000 for a new softball field.
“It was heartbreaking to me to realize that we wouldn’t have a new track facility,” said Marie Tuite, the university’s director of intercollegiate athletics. “As the enduring success of our athletics programs remain a key priority and a point of pride for the university and alumni, we are committed to sponsoring all 22 sport programs,” Tuite said. “We will continue to support and fund activity for our men’s and women’s track programs off campus.”
As the 51-year-old Bud Winter Field facilities have long fallen into disrepair, the men’s and women’s track teams have been practicing at San Jose City College for some time. “Our current goal is to secure a long-term agreement there or at another facility to ensure our track and field teams have a high-quality venue at which to practice and train for competition,” said Tuite.
History of SJSU’s Two Tracks: Bud Winter Field and 7th Street Track
Before the Bud Winter Field was built in the late 1960s at South 10th Street and East Alma Avenue, Winter trained many world-class caliber athletes at another track, located nearby at South 7th and East Humboldt streets on the South Campus. “San Jose State’s track and field legacy gained a sprinter’s momentum when Bud Winter was named head coach in 1941. For three decades, he attracted record-setting athletes that were ranked among the best in the world. These athletes made Speed City famous competing at the old 7th Street track, later training and racing at Bud Winter Field on 10th Street and around the world for nearly 40 years,” said Lawrence Fan, the university’s athletics media relations director.
Years later, the Koret Athletic Training Center was opened in 2001 over a portion of the old 7th Street track, for use by San Jose State’s intercollegiate athletics program. That building also now houses the Jeff Garcia Hall of Champions, which honors all those inducted into San Jose State’s Sports Hall of Fame—including track and field stars.
The Simpkins Stadium Center also now covers a portion of the old 7th Street track, Fan said.
Some Speed City athletes who qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team trained at Bud Winter Field in preparation for the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics. Those Games are remembered in part for San Jose State track stars Tommie Smith, a gold medalist in the 200-meter dash, and John Carlos, a bronze medalist in the same event. They raised their fists atop the medals stand in Mexico City to protest racial injustice for African-Americans.
Today, the iconic sculpture of Smith and Carlos—with fists raised—represents a silent stand for human rights and is prominently located on the university’s main campus to honor their courage. Their athletics feats and others associated with the Speed City era are on display at the Jeff Garcia Hall of Champions inside the Koret Athletic Training Center and at the SJSU Special Collections and Archives in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.
In addition to the Sports Hall of Fame displays located on South Campus and the sculpture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the main campus, San Jose State will continue to honor the Speed City athletes’ legacy by building a special tribute at the site where Bud Winter Field currently stands. The university’s track and field stars have demonstrated athletic excellence, and also made a stand for human and racial equality on the world stage.
“The ’60s was a time of civil unrest throughout this country,” Tuite said. “The actions of the men’s track and field athletes served as a benchmark for social justice and for belief in human equality. SJSU athletes led the movement in the ’60s, and that moment has stood the test of time. This university was built on their voices of democracy, fairness, inclusion and love—and we will honor those voices every single day.”
A Plan for Multi-level Parking Garage
San Jose State has approximately 20,000 commuters who drive to campus each day. With only 5,121 parking spots in three on-campus parking garages and approximately 1,200 parking spots on campus surface lots, there is a real and existing parking challenge. The proposed multi-level parking garage will provide 1,530 new parking spaces which will offer much-needed parking for students, faculty and staff. In addition, the new structure will raise money from parking fees paid by fans of the San Jose Giants minor league baseball team and by those who use the Solar4America Ice venue, also known as “Sharks Ice,” near the university’s south campus, Faas said.
Pending completion of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) study and final approval, construction of this new facility is scheduled to begin in June 2019 and is expected to open in the fall of 2020.
About San Jose State University
The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its eight colleges. With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce. The university is proud of the accomplishments of its more than 270,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.
About San Jose State Athletics
San Jose State sponsors 22 (nine men’s and 13 women’s) NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports programs for approximately 470 student-athletes annually. In football, the Spartans are a member of Division I’s Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the NCAA’s highest level of competition.
The Spartans’ primary conference affiliation is with the Mountain West. Selected teams belong to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the Golden Coast Conference (GCC).
San Jose State has 10 NCAA team championships and 52 NCAA individual titles. Sixty-two (62) Spartans competed in one or more Olympic Games. San Jose State athletes have won seven gold, six silver and seven bronze medals at the Olympics.
Annually, about one-third of the student-athlete population earns either institutional, conference or national recognition based on outstanding academic performance.