San Jose State University will tear down a famed outdoor track and replace with a parking garage, a decision prompting outrage from sports fans and alumni.
“To take that hallowed ground and pave it over, you are committing a sacrilege,” former sprinter Kirk Clayton told the Mercury News.
As it stands, Bud Winter Field, the historic track on SJSU’s South Campus, has fallen into disrepair since it’s heyday in the late 60s.
The university had originally wanted to build revive the track and build new facilities for the school’s recently reinstated track and field team. But the university couldn’t find the funds necessary to revive it. Instead, SJSU will turn the site into a parking garage along with a $2.5 million multi-purpose field that anyone in the community can use along.
The university envisions students, athletes and fans will use the four-story parking structure to attend sporting events nearby.
San Jose State had what was considered one of the best track and field teams in the country, earning it the nickname “Speed City.” The university produced legendary athletes such as Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, and John Carlos, who went on to medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
“They are trying to dispose our history with the school. I’m sure down the line they are going to try to pull our statue down too. It’s wrong. And it’s been wrong, how they’ve treated our history for some time,” Carlos told The Nation.
Charlie Faas, SJSU’s vice president of administration and finance, told The Mercury News that the university is in dire need of new parking, saying that students regularly drive around for 30 minutes trying to find a space.
The new parking structure, Faas added, will have signs honoring the Speed City athletes.
SJSU did not immediately respond to request for comment.