10 need-to-know facts about Steelers training camp
Steeler Nation soon will unite at Saint Vincent College in Westmoreland County as the franchise that is tied for the most Super Bowl victories prepares for the upcoming season.
Once again, fans and players will descend upon Saint Vincent for training camp — the 54th year the Steelers will hold practices at the campus near Latrobe.
Here are some scheduling details and fun facts to make for a better visit to training camp.
1. Times to arrive
Camp practices that are open to the public are scheduled from July 26 through Aug. 16. Players are required to report to camp by 4 p.m. July 25.
The campus is open from noon to 6 p.m. Practices that are open to the public usually begin about 2:55 p.m. Other practice days open to the public include July 27-29, 31, Aug. 1, 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14 and 15.
Players are off July 30 and Aug. 5, 10 and 13.
Practice is scheduled to be held at Latrobe Memorial Stadium on Aug. 2 for Steeler Fest and at Heinz Field on Aug. 4.
2. Parking and seating
Visitors can sit in the bleachers of Chuck Noll Field or bring folding chairs or blankets to sit around the practice fields. Picnic baskets and canned beverages are welcome, but grills, alcohol, glass containers and animals — other than service dogs — are prohibited. Bleachers are limited to the first couple thousand spectators.
Tailgating is not permitted on Saint Vincent property. Audio and video recording of practices is prohibited.
Admission and parking is free for the Saint Vincent practices. Tickets are required for Steeler Fest in Latrobe and Heinz Field.
3. Autograph tips
Historically, fans have obtained autographs before and after practice. Those with the most success use the following tips:
• Know the players’ names and don’t just call them by their numbers.
• Be respectful of players and fans, and don’t fight over spots.
• Have a marker and item ready for signatures to maximize time when a player is in your area.
• Stock up on Steelers merchandise at World of Values so you never miss an autograph opportunity.
4. Legendary encounters
The first 200 fans in attendance will have a chance to meet Steelers legends from 2-3 p.m. in the “Me and You and a Photo Booth Too” tent.
Merril Hoge, Steelers running back from 1987-93, is expected to be there July 26.
Donnie Shell, a member of the Steel Curtain defense, is expected to be there July 27. Shell played safety from 1974-87, played in Super Bowl IX, X, XIII and XIV and was selected to the Pro Bowl five times.
Other alumni visits will be announced as they become available.
5. Youth activities
The Steelers will feature a “Play 60 Fun Zone” for children in grades 1-12. The zone includes football-themed activities from 3:30-4:30 p.m. on public practice days.
They can experience simulated practice sessions and games and race through obstacle courses.
Children will be able to register after camp opens. It is limited to the first 200 registrants.
The zone is located at the baseball field at the bottom of the steps of Carey Hall.
6. Steelers Experience
The team wants to give fans a total entertainment experience at Saint Vincent. The following activities will be available from noon to 6 p.m. on open practice days.
• The Steelers Nation Unite tent, where fans can spin a wheel for a chance at prizes such as VIP on-field experiences, Steeler Fan Fest tickets and more.
• Face painting for all fans, free of charge.
7. About the college
Saint Vincent serves more than 1,800 students on its 200-acre campus. It has more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate and professional programs. Annual tuition is around $34,500 for full-time undergraduates. The college was founded in 1846 by Benedictine monks, led by Boniface Wimmer, who became the first Archabbot of Saint Vincent Archabbey. More information about the school and its programs is available at stvincent.edu.
8. Tradition begins
The Steelers began training at Saint Vincent in 1966 under the direction of head coach Bill Austin. Art Rooney Jr. graduated from Saint Vincent in 1957 and believed the college would be a great site for the team to train.
The Steelers trained in Pittsburgh, Hershey, Slippery Rock, Waukesha, Wis., and the University of Rhode Island before settling on Saint Vincent.
9. Familiar grounds
The Green Bay Packers are the only NFL franchise to have had training camp at the same location for longer than the Steelers. The Packers have practiced at Saint Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., since 1958.
The Minnesota Vikings were tied with the Steelers as far as training camp longevity. They had camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato from 1966 through 2017 before moving camp to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan in 2018.
10. Bill Cowher endorses the tradition
Retired sports reporter Mike Dudurich published a book in 2015 titled, “Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp: 50 Years at Saint Vincent.”
In it, he highlights the eras of the team’s former coaches, including Bill Cowher (1992-2006).
The team opened its practice headquarters in Pittsburgh’s South Side in 2000.
Cowher was asked, during a particularly stormy summer that forced practices to be moved to high school fields around Westmoreland County, if it was more beneficial for the team to work out at the South Side facility, which has a state-of-the-art indoor facility, Dudurich wrote.
“I’m an old-school guy. (Going away for camp) is a necessity,” he said, according to Dudurich. “(The inclement weather) does not change my belief on where training camp should be held. There are so many pluses in being away and eliminating as many distractions as possible.”
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