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Pitt plans to do makeover

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh athletic director Heather Lyke believes the Atlantic Coast Conference is the toughest league in the country, both athletically and academically. She think it’s past time that Pitt’s athletic facilities live up to that pedigree. All of them.

Saying the Panthers need to raise their expectations across the board, Lyke unveiled plans for the $250 million “Victory Heights” on Tuesday. The project, which will include a new arena to house Pitt’s gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling programs and a 300-meter indoor track, is a key part of the university’s 30-year master plan.

“We have not performed across the board where we expect to be,” Lyke said of the Panthers, who moved from the Big East to the ACC in fall 2013. “Our job as a leader and my leadership team is to chart the course and make the plan to get there.”

A course Lyke began putting together shortly after she was hired in 2017. She provided a vague outline of what she’d like “Victory Heights” to look like a few months after replacing Steve Pederson. The outline has turned into something far more concrete in her nearly three years on the job. Construction for the 3,500-seat arena and an athletic performance center will begin in summer 2021 and is scheduled to open in fall 2023.

The start of other major projects in the plan — including the eight-lane 300-meter track and space for the school’s marching band — will begin after the arena and performance center are completed.

The facilities will replace aging Fitzgerald Field House, which has served as a multipurpose venue for 70 years.

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