SAN JOSE -- In the facilities race, San Jose State has always lagged behind its competition.
The Spartans have finally made a step forward in that area with the near completion of renovations to Yoshihiro Ushida Hall, which includes new locker rooms and office space for the basketball, volleyball and gymnastics programs.
"We're trying to get better every day and make improvements every year and this is a significant one," athletic director Gene Bleymaier said. "You don't need to have the biggest and the brightest and the greatest, but you do need to have something that's nice and adequate and has a little glitz to it and that's what this is."
Previously, the basketball programs -- men's and women's -- used the locker rooms in the Event Center, while the coaches offices were in an administration building on the bottom floor of a parking garage across campus. Now the coaches and players are in the same building with locker rooms that feature a lounge area and private locked access so they can leave their gear in their lockers.
The project cost about $55 million and was covered by state bond money specifically targeted for capital improvements, including those within the California State University system. None of the funds comes from student fees or tuition and the project includes seismic updates to the aging building, which opened in 1932, according to a San Jose State press release.
"It's really nice to walk in to something that we can call our own and is especially designed for us," senior guard Ta'Rea Cunningham of the women's basketball team said.
Minor improvements were made to Spartan Gym, which hosts volleyball games and gymnastic meets and serves as a basketball practice facility. Known for sometimes unbearable heat from poor ventilation, it received new windows and a new air conditioning system. A new floor is expected to be installed in the next year.
The renovations also will add new classrooms, a weight room and other facilities for the physical education department.
This is the first new building to benefit the athletic department since the Koret Athletic Training Center was built on South Campus in 2001 and the first on the main campus since the Event Center in 1989.
Bleymaier has a vision for many more upgrades on South Campus, starting with the Vermeil-Walsh Athletic Complex in the north end zone of Spartan Stadium. The entire master plan also includes new facilities for baseball, softball, soccer, golf, tennis and track and field.
The Vermeil-Walsh project was approved by California State University trustees in March 2013 and fundraising continues.
"We're going to try to get them all done eventually, but right now we're trying to find where the most interest is so we can get started," Bleymaier said, adding that football and golf are currently at the forefront.
The basketball programs in particular are counting on a big recruiting boost as they attempt to develop into competitive team in the Mountain West.
"I haven't seen a nicer locker room than this," said women's basketball coach Jamie Craighead. "To have this and have it be ours will help us tremendously in recruiting."