For years, fans have descended upon Saint Vincent College in Latrobe to watch Steelers training camp. It has become an annual event for people who enjoy watching practices and standing in line for autographs.
The Steelers' plans for training camp have not changed, but other NFL teams have canceled their off-site training camps because of the uncertainty created by the lockout.
Last week the Baltimore Ravens canceled their plans to train at McDaniel College, and the New York Jets informed SUNY-Cortland that they would not be training there. Instead they will hold training camp, if there is one, at the facilities they use during the regular season.
The Vikings told Minnesota State University that the drop-dead date for holding camp there is July 18. If the lockout is not settled by then the team will train at their in-season facility.
Saint Vincent spokesman Don Orlando said Monday that the college is "optimistic" that the Steelers will hold training camp there despite the uncertainty of the lockout.
"We'll be ready if they need us," Orlando said.
Orlando also said the Steelers have not informed the college of a date when they would make a decision regarding training camp. The Steelers confirmed Monday that there is not a drop-dead date for the team to make a decision.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin sidestepped the question two weeks ago when he was asked about it at his football camp. The Steelers usually open training camp in late July, but they have not set a date this year because of the lockout.
While the Steelers and Saint Vincent aren't saying much about training camp, local hotels and restaurants are eagerly awaiting word.
Dawn Roberts, the general manager at the Courtyard by Marriott in Greensburg, said bookings are down for late July and early August because of the NFL labor situation. She decorates her hotel with Steelers memorabilia every year to welcome out-of-town fans who made the trek to camp.
"We're getting a lot of calls from people. They want to know, 'Have we heard anything?' " Roberts said.
If training camp is not held at Saint Vincent this year Roberts projected that her hotel would stand to lose about $18,000-20,000 in business.
"It's going to affect the whole area," she said. "We get a lot of families. They'll go to Idlewild Park, and they go to the restaurants. We're keeping our fingers crossed."
Ron Auld, general manager of Dino's Sports Lounge in Latrobe, couldn't say how much a canceled camp would affect his business, but said it would be significant.
"It's a big month for us," Auld said. "We always look forward to it. People come from out of town. They spend their vacations here. It would be a big hit to us. We get a lot of the coaches coming in here at night, so that brings a lot of other people into our establishment, too. They want to check that out."
John Huemme is the owner of Sharky's Cafe in Latrobe. He stopped short of saying a loss of a camp would hurt his business. Sharky's has been in business for 20 years and has a loyal customer base, but Huemme said he would feel a pinch
"It would be disappointing," Huemme said. "It's like losing out on that bonus at work. When camp comes around you know your profits are going to be higher."
Huemme said his establishment also plays host to coaches and players for the three weeks or so that training camp is in town. He said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and members of the offense come in a couple of times each summer.
"He treats them to pretty much whatever they want," Huemme said. "It's crazy what those guys can eat. Each one of them will get an appetizer for themselves and some of them will order two meals."
Ryan Tollner, the agent for Roethlisberger, said Monday there is nothing new concerning the foot injury his client had last season. The Post-Gazette reported in February that Roethlisberger said the foot would not require surgery "as of now." The quarterback was quoted last week saying the foot might require surgery in the future.
"There's nothing new there," Tollner said. "The doctors elected not to do surgery and to let it heal. If it ever got worse, they might have to do something. Ben is kind of surprised that it's getting the attention that it's getting. Ben hopes and expects never to have surgery on it. The foot was feeling better after the season, and with this extra time in the offseason, it feels great."
Ray Fittipaldo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1230.