San Jose State loses historic track to make way for parking

A historic track where two of San Jose State’s most famous Olympians trained will soon be no more. The university said Bud Winter Field on the South Campus will be turned into a new parking garage.

San Jose State has a long and celebrated history of track and field. The track on 10th Street and Alma Avenue is part of the Speed City era from the 1960s to '80s when athletes shined.

“There were people from all over the country that came and gathered to work out at San Jose State’s track,” said Downtown College Prep Track & Field Coach Rich Read. 

San Jose State’s most famous athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith practiced to prepare for the 1968 Mexico City Olympic games, where the Black Power salute to protest racism made history. 

Five decades later, it's a track- widely used by the community where young athletes draw inspiration.

“It has a lot of meaning to me,” Paulo Orozco, a 16-year-old long distance runner. “I always think of how these people ran here, these really hardworking people.”

The university had planned to create a new practice facility, but San Jose State is growing and needs parking. The new plan revealed Wednesday is to pave over the track and build a parking garage.

“Yes, there were plans to see if a new track could be installed,” said San Jose State Athletics Media Relations Director Lawrence Fan. “But the greater need for San Jose State and San Jose State Athletics is a multi-level parking structure.”

Fan said South Campus is evolving and with the university being a commuter campus, with 45,000 people on any given day, there's just not enough parking. The new garage will accommodate 1,500 cars.

“It’s a big shame to see it go, a chunk of my heart out the door,” said Read. “That moment in history you feel it's almost going to get lost, even though it happened and you have it recorded it just feels like it will disappear.”

“We are going to do everything we can to preserve the history of what's taken place as it pertains to San Jose State’s track and field,” said Fan.

Both men's and women's track and field programs will remain. Practices are held at San Jose City College and the university doesn't host any meets. The new garage could be built this summer and opened 18 months later.