University Advances Plans for Athletic Center
Last week, the University of Pittsburgh’s Property and Facilities Committee officially approved plans for a series of state-of-the-art athletics projects.
Dubbed Victory Heights, the projects are expected to provide student-athletes with new national-caliber competition, training and sports performance and sports medicine facilities.
Originally pitched in April 2018, plans for Victory Heights wouldn’t be unveiled to the members of the media and the university’s coaches, alumni and athletes until January 2020.
A $250 million undertaking at the time, the proposal outlined a transformation of Pitt’s athletic facilities, which included a new 3,500-seat arena, an eight-lane and 300-meter indoor track, multiple practice buildings, a band facility, and a strength and conditioning complex.
The athletic renovations are reportedly just one part of Pitt’s larger Campus Master Plan. The road map for the future layout of the university is expected to take 20-30 years to fully complete.
“Victory Heights is our demonstrated commitment to comprehensive excellence,” said Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke during a press conference announcing the project. “It’s going to impact 16 of our 19 teams directly, and 84% of our student athletes, and 305 of our marching band members and 75 of our spirit squad members.”
At the time, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said the university would be “debt-financing the project.” While 10 large donations—ranging between six and seven figures—had already been made, Gallagher anticipated that fundraisers led by the athletic department would offset the remaining costs.
Built next to the Peterson Events Center, the proposed arena would replace the current role of the Fitzgerald Field House, serving as the new home for Pitt’s gymnastics, wrestling and volleyball teams.
In January of this year, Pitt Athletics spokesperson E.J. Borghetti reported that the university was planning to launch construction and estimated that the facilities would be completed by 2024.
“Despite recent challenges created by the pandemic, the project’s vision remains firmly on track,” Borghetti said. “Originally set to break ground in 2021, that date will now take place in 2022 with anticipated construction starting in the fall of .”
At the time of the announcement, Borghetti also shared that fundraising efforts had raised $11 million in donations. Covering only 4% of the total costs, the university said that the project was still in planning stages.
With the formal approval for the $240 million Victory Heights project by Pitt’s Property and Facilities Committee, construction is now slated to break ground in early 2023.
“We are incredibly grateful for the University's support and commitment to Victory Heights and an ambitious future for Pitt Athletics,” said Lyke. “The University of Pittsburgh is committed to excellence in every endeavor it undertakes. Victory Heights is the latest example of Pitt's vision to transform our training and teaching environments to allow our student-athletes to achieve at the highest competitive levels. This is more than an investment in facilities; it's an investment in our young people and their championship dreams at Pitt.”
The project will reportedly impact more than 85% of Pitt student-athletes and is vital for the university’s 19 varsity intercollegiate athletic programs.
The 240,000-square-foot complex will include: