North End Zone Project Coming Together

Inside Sparta spoke Friday with Senior Associate Athletic Director John Poch, who is overseeing the renovation of the North End Zone of Spartan Stadium. Including a complex to be known as the he Bill Walsh Center: Institute for the Development of Human Potential. Another famous SJSU alum is also very involved with the project as well as the football program.

Images Courtesy of San Jose State Athletics

Over this past recruiting season prospective student-athletes have spoke of, and been amazed by, the renderings and plans for the renovation of the north end zone of Spartan Stadium. The new 60,000-square-foot facility will consist of two buildings - a Spartan football complex, and the the Bill Walsh Center: Institute for the Development of Human Potential.

Inside Sparta spoke on Friday with John Poch, San Jose State Senior Associate Athletic Director who is also Deputy Director/External Operations. He was returning from a meeting in Calistoga, Calif., with another famous SJSU alumnus.

"I just got out of a meeting with Dick Vermeil, my all-time favorite Spartan," Poch said. "He's done so much for us. I was showing him what we're going to do and getting some advice."

Poch wasn't able to let on exactly what that advice was, but said more on that may be coming out in a week or so.

Recently, the San Jose Mercury News reported the project is estimated to cost between $9 million and $14 million. Poch went slightly higher with his estimate of the final cost.

"It's a $15 million project," he said. "It will be paid with private funding and we have two major commitments that we hope to be able to announce by the end of March. We hope to have all the funding secured by July 1, and it is scheduled to be open in the fall of 2013 for the first game of that season."

Poch said that there is a new design for the complex and updated renderings will be available soon to the public. They are now finalizing the design with the architect, and will soon begin the bidding process for contractors to begin construction on the project.

Poch added that while the Bill Walsh Center and the Spartan Football Complex will be linked, they will be entirely separate operations. Along with the two main building, Poch said there will be 14 different naming components and opportunities will exist for people to have their names associated with those components.

The new facility will be the culmination of years of planning, which included Bill Walsh himself. Though Walsh died in 2007, it was his vision gave birth to this project.

"Bill was 100-percent involved," Poch said. "(athletic director) Tom Bowen and (former SJSU president) Don Kassing worked with Bill before he passed. This is what he wanted, a place to have his teachings brought to San Jose State."

An innovator, Walsh designed the West Coast Offense and led the San Francisco 49ers to multiple Super Bowl titles, his teachings will now be available to college and high school coaches as well as student-athletes.

The complex will seat approximately 1200, according to Poch. It will also include six premium "loges."

Since Bowen took over as Athletic Director in 2004, at the behest of Walsh, $3 million has already been invested in upgrades to Spartan Stadium, including the new field turf installed in 2009. Also, other upgrades include a complete repainting of the stadium, and improvements in seating.

"We're going to replace the seating in Section 111," Poch said. "After that we're going to place seating in Sections 110 and 112."

Poch said that Vermeil is maintaining close contact with SJSU and head coach Mike MacIntyre.

"He mentors MacIntyre, they talk all the time," Poch said. "He suggests books he should read, the guy is the best."

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