Share This Page

Latrobe hopes Steelers return for training

Every summer, as many as 20,000 Steelers fans descend on Latrobe for a few weekends, tripling the city's population, to sit on the grass overlooking Rooney Field and watch the players run practice drills and perhaps snag an autograph.

It's an annual tradition that gets Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce President Andy Stofan excited, particularly when training camp follows a Super Bowl appearance.

"It would have been nice if the Steelers won the Super Bowl, but when they at least make it there, that reflects very well on training camp attendance," Stofan said.

But the NFL lockout has the region surrounding the team's summer home -- St. Vincent College in Unity -- hoping there is a training camp in August, he said.

"It's obviously going to have an impact if all of a sudden this year there is no training camp," Stofan said. "We are all just ... keeping an eye on the NFL."

John Huemme, owner of Sharky's Cafe, a restaurant and bar along Route 30 in Unity, said he has been anxiously watching for updates on the league's labor negotiations, wondering if the usual sea of black and gold will invade his restaurant this summer.

"We're all kind of worried," Huemme said of local business owners. "It would be a drastic change if we didn't have (training camp)."

Huemme said his restaurant doubles up on staff and inventory during the three-week period in late July and early August that the Steelers are in town, when business easily doubles.

"It's kind of like our 'Christmas in July,'" he said. "Every hotel in the area is 100 percent booked. It's just the biggest couple of weeks of the year.

"We see the same people come in every year from Florida, Arizona -- all coming because the Steelers are in town," he said.

Last week, the Chamber of Commerce was awarded a $10,000 Westmoreland County Tourism Grant to capitalize on the influx of fans to advertise other destinations in the area. The Chamber plans to develop a website aimed at training camp visitors, Stofan said.

A St. Vincent College spokesman declined comment.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.