Saint Vincent College will extend its campus hospitality to the Pittsburgh Steelers players, coaches, staff and thousands of fans for the 52nd consecutive year this summer.
The College’s preparations for the NFL Steelers upcoming summer training camp were previewed at a pre-camp media briefing at the Robert S. Carey Student Center lounge on July 19.
Long, successful history
“We are very proud of our long and successful history of working closely together with the Steelers,” Saint Vincent College president Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., said. “We are looking forward to this year’s camp and to welcoming the members of Steelers Nation and all of Saint Vincent College’s students, alumni and friends to our campus. We are especially proud to be hosting the Steelers inaugural Charity Walk to benefit the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research. Coach Noll was always a welcome visitor and we are pleased that our stadium honors him. I look forward to welcoming Joe Greene, Garrett Webster and a large group of fans on the morning of the 29th.”
Br. Norman also noted the recent passing of Steelers Chairman, Ambassador Dan Rooney who will be honored at a Mass scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sunday, July 30, in the Basilica with Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., officiating. The Steelers players and staff have been invited and the general public may attend. No tickets or reservations are required.
Players will report to camp on Thursday, July 27 and the first open practice for fans will be at 2:55 p.m. Friday, July 28. The Steelers Experience will open at noon offering interactive games for children and adults.
Charity Walk news this year
A new feature at camp this summer is the inaugural Steelers Charity Walk to benefit The Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research on Saturday, July 29. The honorary co-chairs for the walk will be former Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Joe Greene, and Garrett Webster, son of former Steeler and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Mike Webster. Participants will hear Greene reflect on his memories of playing for Coach Noll at 8:30 a.m. at Chuck Noll Field. The 40-minute walk will begin at 9 a.m. and will follow the Winnie Palmer Nature Trail on the Saint Vincent campus. After the walk, participants will be able to watch the Steelers’ morning practice. Registration is available at www.steelers.com/charitywalk. The cost is $25 per registration and includes a commemorative t-shirt. Packet pickup will start at 7 a.m. that morning.
Sixteen Public Practices
There are 16 practices which are scheduled to be open to the public, 14 on the Saint Vincent campus, one at Latrobe Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, and one evening practice, Family Fest, at Heinz Field. Four of the practices at Saint Vincent are scheduled on weekends including two on Saturdays and two on Sundays.The complete schedule of public practices: 2:55 p.m. Friday, July 28; 2:55 p.m. Saturday, July 29; 2:55 p.m. Sunday, July 30; 2:55 p.m. Monday, July 31; 2:55 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2; 2:55 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3; 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4 (Latrobe Memorial Stadium); 2:55 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5; 5 to 9 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 6 at Heinz Field (Family Fest); 2:55 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8; 2:55 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9; 2:55 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13; 2:55 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14; 2:55 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16; 2:55 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17; and 2:55 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18.
Facilities Management Busy
The Saint Vincent College Facilities Management Office has been busy for weeks preparing for the Steelers’ arrival. “Our grounds crew, carpenters, electricians and other staff are installing fencing, signs, temporary walls, furniture, bedding and a thousand other details that we know are needed so that the Steelers can have a successful and smooth-running camp at their Saint Vincent summer home,” commented Vicky Booth, assistant director of facility management. “Our goal is to extend our best hospitality to the players, coaches, staff and fans.”
New official app
Fans planning to visit camp are encouraged to download the official app of the Pittsburgh Steelers to receive exclusive training camp content and register for a chance to win a VIP training camp experience while at Saint Vincent College. Fans in attendance can choose to have a specific training camp display on their mobile device. The display will include one-touch access to a special welcome video, VIP training camp experience registration page, parking and traffic information and daily training camp information. To be able to see all of the features while at Steelers training camp, fans need to download the Steelers official app for free and select “settings” in the upper right hand navigation and then set “location-based alerts” to “on.”
Other camp features
Camp will also feature the FedEx Traveling Great Hall from noon to 6 p.m. This is a 53-foot trailer version of the FedEx Great Hall which can be seen at Heinz Field. Fans of all ages can experience the history of the Steelers’ organization while every fan attending wins a Steelers prize on the prize wheel.
A You and Me and a Photo Booth Too Tent will be open from noon to 6 p.m. during all practices. Fans can take their photo against the backdrop of some of their favorite Steelers scenes.
The Steelers Experience will be open from noon to 6 p.m. where fans can be a part of the Steelers and capture memorable photos with a larger than life Steelers hypocycloid, replica locker and giant Steelers gloves. Fans can compare themselves with actual size players on the “How Do You Stack Up?” display and practice their football skills with the quarterback toss and field goal-kicking elements.
The Steelers will also feature a “Play 60 Fun Zone” for children in grades 1-12 to participate in the team’s 2017 training camp. The zone will include football-themed activities for 60 minutes each day the Steelers hold practice. Children will be able to register for the Play 60 Fun Zone once campus opens and is limited to the first 200 registrants. It is located in the baseball field at the bottom of the steps of Carey Center.
The Steelers will host a youth football team each day at practice. The youth football squad will welcome the Steelers to the field each day while enjoying a skills clinic to celebrate Play Football Month.
Fan Fest at Heinz Field
For the first time, Steelers will hold an open practice at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Fest will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6. Admission is $10 for all fans and tickets may be purchased at ticketmaster.com. The entire 2017 team will be introduced out of the player tunnel. Upon entry, all fans will receive a 1st-in-goal scratch-off card. Fans may win sideline passes to watch players up close on the field or win a signed Steelers practice jersey from any one of the players on the team. Steelers alumni Merrill Hoge, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley will describe the action from down on the field throughout the evening. Steelers Fan Fest will feature a number of kids’ activities throughout the evening including interactive elements, Game Faces face painting, magicians, balloon artists, Steely McBeam and others starting at 3 p.m. on Art Rooney Avenue and continuing inside the FedEx Great Hall, the Ford Fanzone and the West Concourse. The evening will also include a viewing of the 2016 Steelers highlight film on the new scoreboard.
Steelers logo merchandise
Steelers memorabilia will be available at the Saint Vincent College Bookstore in the Robert S. Carey Student Center from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on days of public practice and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on days when there is no public practice, according to Fr. Anthony Grossi, O.S.B., director of the Saint Vincent Bookstore. “Among the new items the Saint Vincent Bookstore will offer are a host of popular Steelers logo merchandise including NFL board game with player figures, a four-spice collection, a laser light that projects onto a house and airplane glider,” Fr. Anthony said. “In addition, the store will also be offering past favorites such as mugs, pennants, training camp T-shirts, pens, pencils, glasses and framed pictures of players.”
Other popular Steelers logo items that will return to the bookstore shelves include Steelers wheel covers, license plates, stadium cushions, panoramic photo of Heinz Field, gloves, checkers, action figures, cars, mailbox flags, Lil’ teammates NFL figures and even a screwdriver. All of the items are also available for sale at the bookstore’s online site at http://bookstore.stvincent.edu.
The Bookstore will also sell a variety of ice cream novelty items.
The Steelers official merchandise tent will also be open on every day of public practice.
Steelers Nation Unite
From noon to 6 p.m. daily, fans can stop by the Steelers Nation Unite Tent at the entrance of camp to spin the prize wheel for a chance to score prizes as well as pick up a team roster for the day’s practice. Fans can also visit www.steelersnationunite.com to become members and RSVP for training camp for a chance to win VIP on-field experiences and watch a special viewing of the 2016 Steelers highlight film.
Camp visitors will have an opportunity to view the Steelers branded Ford F-150 truck on display as the official truck of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fans may register to win the Neighborhood Ford Store Truck Sweepstakes along with giveaways.
Concessions for fans
For the fans who visit camp, the College will have concessions near St. Benedict Hall, in the Steelers Experience area, next to the Steelers merchandise tent near the parking area and in the concession stand at Chuck Noll Field. The Shack snack bar inside the Robert S. Carey Student Center will also be open. Hours of operation for the concession areas are 1 to 6 p.m. on practice days.
The concession near the merchandise tent will be selling ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips and water, while the Chuck Noll Field concession will have bottled water, Gatorade, nachos and cheese, ice cream, hot dogs and chips. The concession near St. Benedict Hall is a hydration station featuring bottled water, iced tea and Gatorade. The Steelers Experience area will have ice cream, hot dogs, chips, bottled water, pretzels, nachos and cheese, bottled soda and Gatorade. Some new concession plans are still being finalized.
Free parking and admission
The Steelers and Saint Vincent are again collaborating to offer campus visitors a welcoming hospitality with free parking and free admission. Visitors are welcome to sit in the bleachers of Chuck Noll Field or to bring folding chairs or blankets for seating around the perimeters of the fields outside the fencing. Picnic baskets and canned beverages are also welcome but no grills, alcohol, glass containers or animals other than service dogs will be permitted.
A special summer training camp logo, designed by George Fetkovich of the Saint Vincent College Department of Marketing and Communications, in collaboration with the Steelers and the National Football League, will again be displayed on campus pole banners, hillside banners, the trolley, rosters, schedules, the website and other places. Car window clings with the logo will be distributed to each car that enters the parking areas. Area businesses and other organizations that wish to join in the celebration and display the logo on their marquee or other public location may download the artwork from either the Pittsburgh Steelers website, www.steelers.com or the Saint Vincent College website, www.stvincent.edu. No merchandise displaying the training camp logo may be sold.
Steelers Fest and Night Practice at Memorial Stadium
The 7 p.m. night practice set for Friday, Aug. 4, at Latrobe Memorial Stadium will be preceded by Steelers Fest, outside of Latrobe Memorial Stadium from noon to 6 p.m. sponsored by the Greater Latrobe Laurel Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Steelers Fest will include a display of the six Steelers Lombardi Trophies on a Steel Beam, free games, prizes, food vendors, photo opportunities with Steelers Experience, a climbing wall, outdoor adventure area, Game Faces face painting, Steelers Nation Unite tent, two Quarterback Challenge inflatables, Bean Bag toss game and a Ford Steelers truck,” commented Allen Martello, interim president of the GLLV Chamber. “Steelers Alumni Louis Lipps (5 to 6 p.m.) and former McKeesport, West Virginia and Steelers safety Mike Logan (4 to 5 p.m.) will be on site signing autographs. Fans will also have the opportunity to take a picture with the six Lombardi Trophies during Steelers Fest.”
Greater Latrobe School District Athletic Director Mark Mears said that fans may purchase tickets to the night practice at the gate, in advance by calling 724-539-4236, or in person at the Greater Latrobe Athletic Office, Latrobe News Stand, Latrobe Parks and Recreation and the Latrobe School District Administration Building on Lincoln Ave., Latrobe. Tickets are $5 for adults 13-65 and $2 for children 5-12 and senior citizens. Children under 5 will be admitted free if accompanied by a parent. All proceeds benefit the Greater Latrobe Athletic Department to fund student programs such as student council and booster organizations.
ESPN’s SportsCenter On the Road will cover the Friday Night Lights practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium again this year. Former Steelers safety Ryan Clark is slated to be joined by Scott Van Pelt and Sal Paolantonio.
Saint Vincent College’s Mister Rogers Neighborhood trolley will operate on campus throughout camp to provide tours of campus and transportation from the parking areas.
Camp started at SVC in 1966
Through their first three decades in the National Football League, the Steelers held their training camp at a variety of locations, as far east as New England and as far west as Wisconsin. In 1966, for the third straight summer, training camp for the Steelers was at the University of Rhode Island. The team was there through the first four weeks of a five-game preseason schedule. Then, after a loss in Green Bay to Vince Lombardi’s Packers, Coach Bill Austin wanted the team close to Pittsburgh because the 1966 regular season was due to open with a home game against the New York Giants on Sept. 11. With no practice fields of their own at the time, the Steelers turned to Saint Vincent College. On July 29, 1966, the Steelers arrived on campus and spent a couple of weeks going through final preparations for the season. The Latrobe Bulletin report on their arrival was secondary to reports about local baseball leagues and the late Arnold Palmer’s appearance in the 48th annual PGA Tournament. In 1967, the Steelers conducted their entire training camp at Saint Vincent College and have returned every year since then.
Octave, Band to perform Aug. 20
In celebration of the 52nd annual camp, Saint Vincent College assistant professor of music, Thomas Octave, has been invited to again sing the national anthem at the Pittsburgh Steelers pre-season game with the Atlanta Falcons at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, at Heinz Field. The Saint Vincent College Marching Band, The March of the Bearcats, under the direction of Randall Kratofil, will also perform during pre-game ceremonies.
Photo: Saint Vincent College will host the 52nd annual Pittsburgh Steelers summer training camp this summer. Players report on Thursday, July 27, and the first of 14 open practices on campus is Friday, July 28.
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