Camp Tomlin 2008: Everything Steelers fans need to know
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Kickoff Camp opens for all players today when they must report and take their annual run test this afternoon. A roster of 81 players is expected . The Steelers have one International roster exemption for England native Marvin Allen, who will spend his second season on their practice squad. The roster includes 54 veterans, 7 first-year players and 19 rookies.
Saint Vincent College, Route 30, Latrobe, the Steelers' 42nd summer at the school and their third when Rolling Rock beer won't be brewed in Latrobe.
There are new directions because of construction, so pay attention. 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. Turn left onto Betty County Road and follow to Brouwers Drive. Turn right and follow to campus parking lots. 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. Take the first left turn onto Brouwers Drive and follow to parking lots. From Erie and points North, take I79 South to Pa. Turnpike, head east and follow directions from Pittsburgh. By air, the Westmoreland County Airport is across Route 30 from the campus. By rail, Amtrak (800-872-7245) offers passenger service with stops in Latrobe.
There's plenty of free parking at designated areas near where the Steelers practice.
They are open free to the public only in the afternoon, normally between 2:55 and 5. All practices are scheduled at Saint Vincent College, except for two night practices, Aug 1 at Latrobe Stadium at 7 p.m. and Aug. 5 at Saint Vincent at 5:30 p.m. Weather and unforeseen circumstances can alter the schedule.
Campus opens to fans 90 minutes 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 situated in a natural amphitheater. Fans can watch from the hillsides or along a fence that rings the practice fields. There is bleacher seating at one-year-old Chuck Noll Field.
What to bring:
Blanket, lawn chair, binoculars, sunglasses, I Pod, sunblock, food, kids, soft drinks, water, snacks, still camera, friends, pen, autograph book, Terrible Towel and even old Alan Faneca jerseys.
There are snack bars outside as well as the college's normal indoor facility.
A Steelers merchandise trailer inside the Steelers Experience on the hill above the practice fields will sell just about anything you want. Various souvenirs, merchandise and exclusive training camp items are also sold on campus.
Alcohol, drugs, whistles, nudity (unless tastefully done), video cameras (those pesky video cell phones will be difficult to stop), profanity, stalkers, Brett Favre trade talk, groupies, pets, pests, Cleveland Browns scouts, Alan Faneca.
Autographs & photos:
The Steelers do not hold an official Photo Day as they did for many years, but they will sign autographs 15 minutes before their night practice at Latrobe Stadium. The best time for photos or autographs otherwise is after practice on campus. Some players will ask fans to wait until after they shower. Players and coaches normally are cooperative, but at times they have bad days or were just chewed out by a coach and don't want to be bothered, so be a little understanding. And it helps if you know the name of the player you ask for an autograph.
Even if you're not a Steeler, you can pretend to be one --- punt, pass, kick, and be timed in the 40-yard dash. Kids of all ages can test their skills or just try the various exercises at the Steelers Experience. You can run, kick, throw, catch, visit a mock locker room, get your photo taken looking like a Steeler and get your face painted as if it's game day and you want to attract the TV cameras. Try your hands at interactive games and activities. Experience will be open -- and free -- when the Steelers practice in the afternoon at St. Vincent College. Hours are 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the baseball field above the football fields on days the Steelers practice.
Steelers offices at UPMC Sports Performance Complex (412-432-7800) and at St. 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. Near Greensburg are the Four Points Sheraton, 724-836-6060; Mountain View Hotel and Conference Center, 724-834-5300; Hampton Inn, 724-838-8800; Holiday Inn Express, 724-838-7070; Knights Inn, 724-836-7100; and Super 8, 724-838-8080. There are several hotels in the Ligonier area as well.