Earlier today, the University of Pittsburgh Athletic Department announced that the university would be implementing their "Victory Heights" plan. The initiative, which was originally introduced in 2018, is set to invest $250 million towards new Pittsburgh athletic facilities.
Of those facilities, the Fitzgerald Field House, a building that is currently incapable of adequately hosting an indoor track meet, will be replaced with a 3000-seat arena responsible for hosting gymnastics, volleyball, and wrestling matches.
In a separate building, the University of Pittsburgh is expected to build an 8-lane, 300 meter indoor track.
Pitt's incoming track will join an array of (relatively) new indoor tracks on the eastern portion of the United States, including the University of Michigan's brand new indoor track facility, as well as the Ocean Breeze indoor track facility located in New York.
The new Pitt indoor track could change the way certain teams and athletes travel, specifically on the east coast. 300 meter tracks have historically made up a heavy portion of national qualifying times in distance events. The extended track distance, which differs from the traditional 200 meter indoor track, is likely responsible for the popularity of meets like the Husky Classic and the Iowa State Classic.
Should the university opt to host invitationals, the addition of a top-tier 300 meter facility with adequate seating could prompt east coast programs to travel to Pittsburgh based on the incentive of mitigating significant travel expenses.
Are we now looking at a track that could potentially rival the meets we see at Boston University each and every winter? The lure of an extra 100 meters per loop could prove to be incredibly appealing.
More so, the addition of an indoor track could become an outstanding bargaining chip when recruiting top athletes to Pitt. The Panthers, as far as distance events are concerned, have not typically been considered a hot spot for top-tier high school recruits in comparison to their conference rivals.
The "Victory Heights" plan is expected to break ground in the summer of 2021 with non-track phases of the project set to open in the fall of 2023. Completion of the indoor track was assigned a timeline of 2024.