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Heather Lyke Unveils Vision for New Campus Facilities



PITTSBURGH — Get ready for Victory Heights.

That’s the name of Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke’s vision for the upper part of Pitt’s athletic campus, in a dramatic redevelopment plan that will provide new venues for Pitt’s gymnastics, track and field, volleyball and wrestling teams and new training facilities for the baseball, soccer and softball teams.

That would be accomplished by replacing the Fitzgerald Field House with a new, 3000-seat arena for gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling, a new indoor track and field facility to replace the facilities lost in the closing of Pitt Stadium in 1999 and a new fitness and health and wellness facility for the programs currently housed in Fitzgerald Field House, a 67-year-old facility that lack basic amenities such as air conditioning.

Victory Heights — it’s name a play on words with the Victory Lights atop the Cathedral of Learning — will occupy the plot of land that is currently home to the field house, Trees Hall and the OC Parking Lot, and will be connected to the Cost Center at the northern edge of Pitt’s campus.

Location of Victory Heights project. — GOOGLE MAPS

Victory Heights will connect the Petersen Events Center, the three venues of the Petersen Sports Complex the Cost Center and Trees Fields as a hub of Pitt’s on-campus athletic facilities.
Lyke said that the impetus for the plan is the deteriorating facilities for those teams and the competitive disadvantage that Pitt’s programs have had, despite their success. Volleyball and wrestling are the only teams to win an ACC title in four-plus season in the conference. Gymnastics and volleyball are the only two teams so far this season to reach the NCAA Tournament.

“Eighty-four percent of our student athletes work out every day in a strength and conditioning room that is not air conditioned,” Lyke said. “You can’t use it as an excuse and we get talented kids here, but I just think how much better of an experience, how much better of a position we could put them in for success if we had some of these facilities.”

Here are the highlights of Lyke’s plan:

• New facility for strength and conditioning, sports medicine and coaches’ offices for baseball, cross country, gymnastics, track and field, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, volleyball and wrestling.
• Human performance research facility in collaboration with the university.
• Replaces facilities currently contained within Fitzgerald Field House.

• New building to house gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling.
• Replaces main gym of Fitzgerald Field House.

• Attached to Human Performance Center and Cost Center.
300-meter track would qualify Pitt to host events.

• Physical connection to the rest of campus.
• Exterior renovation.

Physical location inside Victory Heights.

Lyke said that the plans are still flexible and won’t be finalized until fundraising for Victory Heights has been completed. Lyke added that the cost of the facilities will not be paid for by student fee increases and that Pitt is not planning on cutting any sports in order to offset the cost.

“We have a vision and a plan and we know what could fit in that space and that was the part of the study that was important,” Lyke said. “There’s no specific timeline. We have a lot of work to do toward that project.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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