Fans Guide to 2012 Steelers Training Camp
Fans reach out to touch Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu before camp begins.
Steeples from the church on the campus of Saint Vincent College are seen above the practice fields where the Steelers arrive for NFL football training camp at the team training facility in Latrobe, Pa.
Steelers offensive lineman Max Starks arrives for NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa.
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Kickoff: Up to 90 players will report to camp Wednesday, with practice opening Friday. An NFL rule changes allows for 10 more players for the majority of camp. Receiver Mike Wallace and offensive lineman David DeCastro, the Steelers' No. 1 draft pick, remain unsigned. They are their only unsigned players.
Where: Saint Vincent College, Route 30, Latrobe. This marks the Steelers' 47th consecutive summer at the school, and the fifth summer playing on Chuck Noll Field, named after the legendary Steelers coach.
Getting there: From Pittsburgh, take the Parkway East to the Monroeville Interchange on the Turnpike. Go east to the Irwin Exchange (No. 67). Take Route 30 East about 17 miles to the entrance to Saint Vincent College and follow the signs. ... From Route 70, exit at New Stanton and take 119 North to Route 30, then head east. From Harrisburg and points east, take the Turnpike to exit 91, Donegal. Turn left onto PA Route 31 East, 1/4-mile to left turn at PA Route 711 North, 14 miles to left turn at U.S. Route 30 West, 10 miles to right turn at Saint Vincent. From Erie and points north, take Interstate 79 South to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, head east and follow directions from Pittsburgh. By airplane, the Westmoreland County Airport is across Route 30 from the campus. ... By rail, Amtrak (800-872-7245) offers passenger service with stops in Latrobe. From Pittsburgh and points west, the train pulls in at 8:11 a.m. From points east, 6:41 p.m.
Parking: Parking is remains free at designated areas on the Saint Vincent campus.
Practices: They are open and free to the public in the afternoon, most days between 2:55 and 5 p.m. All practices are scheduled for afternoons at Saint Vincent College except for a night practice Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. at Latrobe Stadium. Weather and unforeseen circumstances can alter the schedule and those changes will be noted on post-gazette.com. The first open practice is Friday and the last one open to the public is Aug. 17.
Getting around: Campus opens to fans two hours before the start of an open practice. There are restricted areas. An information booth is near the field, and campus security can answer questions.
Where to watch: The Steelers practice on four fields with plenty of viewing space surrounding them. Fans can watch from the hillsides or along a fence that rings the practice fields. There is bleacher seating at Chuck Noll Field that provides excellent views of the main practice areas. There are also handicap accessible areas.
What to bring: Blanket, lawn chair, binoculars, sunglasses, sunscreen, kids, food, soft drinks, water, camera, friends, pen, Sharpie, autograph book, Terrible Towel, football, good moods.
Refreshments: There are concession stands near the fields, as well as within the Robert S. Carey Student Center, northwest of the fields. Fans can bring in refreshments as well.
1` A Steelers merchandise trailer inside the Steelers Experience on the hill above the practice fields will sell just about anything you want. If you can't find it there, or perhaps would like some Saint Vincent merchandise, check the bookstore in the student union. This time of year the campus bookstore sells more black-and-yellow than its usual blue-and-white. The bookstore is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays of open practice, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends of open practice.
Banned: Alcohol, drugs, whistles, video cameras, profanity, graffiti, pests, pets, vocal Ravens fans and smoking indoors.
To get autographs, photos: The Steelers do not hold an official photo day as they did for many years, but they will sign autographs during camps. Unlike some NFL teams, the Steelers do not limit autographs to certain age groups. The best chances for photos or autographs come after practice on campus. Common courtesies yield better odds. Say "Please," flash a nice smile, ask players by name and understand if a player wants to shower first. Players and coaches are cooperative far more often than not, but they are humans, so may be prone to a bad day. Don't take it personally.
Steelers Experience: Every kid dreams of being a Steelers player, and here, they can be. The Experience includes chances to punt, pass, kick and be timed in the 40-yard dash. Add in a trip to a mock locker room, a photo shoot and optional face painting, and the interactive games and activities may seem never-ending. The Experience is free and open from 1:30-6 p.m. each day of open practice. Located on the baseball field west of the football fields, letting the kids burn off some excess energy hardly takes you away from watching Big Ben.
Information: Steelers offices at UPMC Sports Performance Complex (412-432-7800) and at Saint Vincent College (724-539-8515).
Where to stay: Among the motels and hotels within a 15-mile radius of Latrobe: In Latrobe is the Wingate Inn, 724-539-0400; and the SpringHill Suites, 724-537-7800. Near Greensburg are the Hampton Inn, 724-838-8800; Comfort Inn, 724-838-7070; Knights Inn, 724-836-6100; Super 8, 724-838-8080; the Inn at Mountain View, 724-691-0570; the Courtyard Marriott, 724-834-3555; and the Ramada Inn, 724-836-6060. Near Blairsville is the Hampton Inn, 724-459-5920. Near Delmont are the Holiday Inn, 724-468-1050; and the Super 8, 724-468-4888. Near Ligonier is the Ramada Inn, 724-238-9545.
Twitter: Though you can only watch the Steelers practice for two hours a day, you can read near constant updates about their lives if you so wish. Do so at the peril of your own productivity and sanity. Among the many Steelers on Twitter:
Antonio Brown @AntonioBrown84
Brett Keisel @bkeisel99
Chris Rainey @crainey3
EmmauelEmmanuel Sanders @E_Sanders88
James Harrison @jharrison9292
Jerricho Cotchery @cotcheryfoundat
Maurkice Pouncey @Maurkice Pouncey
Mike Wallace @Wallace17_daKid
Troy Polamalu @tpolamalu
First Published July 22, 2012 12:00 am