Steelers lose 54-year-old tradition with NFL training camps staying home



The NFL, to help contain the spread of COVID-19, has ordered the 32 teams to conduct their 2020 training camps at their own local team facilities.

But that doesn't mean that each team will feel "at home" without leaving. For the Steelers, the league's mandate brutally ends a tradition that began in 1966.

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Latrobe, Pennsylvania, is known for two things as a small town with fewer than 10,000 residents about an hour east of Pittsburgh. The first is the birthplace of Rolling Rock Beer. The second hosts the Steelers annually for their pre-season preparations for more than five decades.

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This year, the Steelers will not be training at Collège Saint-Vincent on the field named for Chuck Noll, their former Super Bowl winning coach.

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While the Steelers have a great modern facility called the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sportsplex in the South Side neighborhood in their own backyard, Latrobe has long been the best out-of-town camp in the NFL, considering most of the larger ones franchise players cross over 54 years. The Laurel Highlands community provided a magnificent hilly backdrop for the intensity and warmth of the camp.

Given the fiery nature of Steelers fans, the short trip to Pittsburgh was also a key revenue driver for Latrobe businesses in July and August. But in a year in which the NFL camps are required to have no sweaty followers, the experience has not been set to be the same, anyway.

Although most of the teams now organize camps in their facilities, the other teams affected by a full home camp are the Raiders (Napa, California, since 1996) and the Cowboys (Oxnard, California, since 2004). Las Vegas will host a camp at its new headquarters in Henderson, Nevada, while Dallas will not depart from The Star in Frisco, Texas.

If the fight against the new coronavirus takes more positive turns, we can presume that the Steelers will resume camping at Latrobe in 2021. For a year, however, they will have to adapt to the break of a routine of long time.


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