Transformation underway at SJSU's south campus; school to close historic track

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A historic track at Winter Field on San Jose State University's south campus will soon be razed to make room for a new parking garage.

"I love progress, so it's gotta go," said San Jose resident Jimmie Thornwell, who comes to the track every afternoon for his daily dose of exercise.

The field, named after the legendary San Jose State track coach, Bud Winter, was home to a powerhouse program in the mid-20th century dubbed as Speed City. It's the same place where Tommie Smith and John Carlos trained, ahead of the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, where they became known for raising their gloved fists on the medal stand as a salute for human rights.

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This week, university officials unveiled their plan to construct a $50 million four-story parking garage to help ease parking woes across campus. According to SJSU, more than 20,000 people are typically campus every day during the academic year, but only have access to 5,000 parking spaces. The new facility will add another 1,500 spots.

"We have the smallest footprint of land in the California State University system," said Charlie Faas, SJSU's vice president of administration and finance.

The garage will generate revenue from fans going to San Jose Giants and Sharks Ice events across the street. A student recreation field and community walking path will be built to the north of the new structure, with additional plans to construct a new baseball field down the road. The area undergone dramatic changes in recent years, including new facilities for beach volleyball, tennis, softball, and golf.

"Everything is well thought out with a master plan, of how all these things interact and come together," said Faas.

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Faas says the garage is needed to accommodate the university's growth and also envisions the SJSU south campus as a future entertainment destination for families.

The track is slated to close June 2019. Track and field athletes haven't practiced there for years and will continue utilizing the facilities over San Jose City College. There are no immediate plans to build a new track at SJSU.

Construction on the new parking garage will begin in mid-August and should be complete within a year.

SJSU also plans on building a new memorial on the current site to honor Winter.
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