A year after their training camp nearly was delayed by the NFL labor dispute, the Steelers are poised to report to training camp at Saint Vincent College July 25, with their first practice open to the public July 27.
The uncertainty over camp opening dates last year affected attendance, but it is expected to rebound this year, said Don Orlando, public relations director at Saint Vincent.
"The fact that the camp dates have already been announced, I am certain that there will be a return of the crowds we love so well and camp attendance will be pretty good this year," he said.
Orlando expects more than 100,000 fans to attend camp, and, as with last year, they will see changes resulting from the 2011 labor dispute and subsequent collective bargaining agreement. Teams are prohibited from practicing in pads twice a day, and time in pads is limited to three hours each day. Players may be on the field for a total of four hours a day. In the previous CBA, there was no limit on length of practice or time in pads, according to an NFL Players Association representative.
Despite the stricter rules, there will be plenty of chances for fans to see the Steelers, with 16 open practices spread over the entire camp. The team will be in helmets and shorts for the first practice, but each practice after that, beginning July 28, is scheduled to include contact and pads. Training camp will include a 7 p.m. practice Aug. 3 at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.
Saint Vincent provides free parking and free admission to those who attend camp. Orlando said parking this year will be at the same location as in previous years -- the agricultural fields adjacent to the practice fields. Concessions will be available throughout the campus.
"There certainly are lots of other activities that take place at Saint Vincent during the period the Steelers are here," Orlando said. "But the Steelers are the center of attention."
The Steelers have held training camp in Latrobe for 47 consecutive summers. In 2007, Saint Vincent named the field after legendary Steelers coach Chuck Noll.
"We are very proud of the productive and continuous relationship we've had with the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as the Rooney family," Orlando said. "They are close friends of the college."
Douglas Farmer: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @D_Farmer. First Published June 27, 2012 4:00 AM