Update on SJSU’s Spartans Athletic Center at CEFCU Stadium

Guest Blogpost, Rick Jensen, Communications Manager, San Jose Downtown Association

Spartans. Athletic.  Center.  Sounds and will be impressive.  When construction concludes in 2023, it will house locker rooms for football and soccer teams, 150-seat auditorium, coaching offices, position-specific classrooms, stadium game-day suites, general reception area, shared-use dining hall, and top-notch training room accessible to all student-athletes.

Graphic depicting new Athletic Center lockers

With the new building, SJSU is showing new recruits it is serious about competing in a tough Mountain West conference that includes perennial powerhouse Boise State and contenders Fresno State, Nevada, Nevada-Las Vegas and San Diego State.

While recruiting the best players possible to put on the field, SJSU is also recruiting the community — sending a message to thousands of alumni who have made San Jose their home, that it’s time to get excited about their team, get behind it, and show up at games and root the blue and gold to victory.

Those who love sports and football already know about the social and psychological benefits of having a winning team. It feels good. But for a community such as San Jose, the economic impact of full stadiums, and packed restaurants and hangouts before and after games must also be noted. Try finding a table in Norman, Ok., downtown Berkeley, Westwood, Palo Alto, Eugene, Ore., or Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Game Day. We want people talking at the water cooler about last week’s game and next week’s opponent.

San Jose and its Spartans are headed in that direction.  We have the University and its president, Mary Papazian — herself a member of the NCAA committee — to thank.  But a nod also needs to go out to a group of steadfast supporters and alums who have made an investment and commitment to the program through their seven-figure donations.

A $5 million commitment by Larry and Dierdre Solari on Feb. 7 has inspired others to give to SJSU athletics.

In 2019:

  • The most recent large gift is by Stan and Marylin Gadway, who gave $1 million to the athletic center and announced an academic center in the Gadway name.
  • Steve and Cheryl Caplan gave $1 million to the athletics program and another $1 million to the academic house.
  • Thomas Thompson and Jane Bradley gave $500,000 to the the football center and to establish an athletic scholarship fund;
  • Kevin and Sandy Swanson donated $1 million;
  • Also in the last 12 months, John Hopkirk and Anne Murphy donated $2 million.
  • Three anonymous donors registered more than $1.5 million in gifts.

Our anonymous donors simply want us to build the football center and enhance the opportunities for our football program,” said Head Coach Brent Brennan.

Added Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marie Tuite:  “These gracious donors looked Coach Brennan right in the eye and said, ‘We believe in you, coach, and we want to help you now.’”

More than $24.7 million in gifts, pledges, irrevocable estate gifts and departmental revenue streams have been secured in support of this project. Several naming opportunities within the facility are still available.

In lieu of a gigantic donation, the rest of us in the South Bay can take one simple next step toward backing our team — participate in person in the pageantry of Spartan football.