The Pittsburgh Steelers have traveled to Latrobe every year for over 50 years, since before even Chuck Noll was around. That’s a long time for one organization to share a relationship with an outside venue. In fact, their arrangement with Saint Vincent College for training camp is older than every other similar deal in the league, except the one the Green Bay Packers have with Saint Norbert College, dating back to 1958.
Of course, neither the Steelers nor the Packers, or anybody else who ordinarily travels to an off-site location, will be holding training camp in their usual environment in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the NFL and NFLPA determining that it’s best for teams to hold training camp at their own facilities (which the vast majority of the league has already been doing anyway).
James Conner, who is heading into his fourth training camp, reflected on this change and what Latrobe has meant to the Steelers as a whole, long predating his own time while speaking to Missi Matthews and Arthur Moats as part of an interview for the team’s website.
It’s definitely gonna be different, that’s all I know, because Latrobe, the Steelers, that’s obviously been their history forever. I think the bad thing is how it’s gonna impact the people out there, and they’ve got some fans who really look forward to it every year, year after year. It’s awesome getting to see the same faces, the loyal fans out there.
One thing I do like is that it will be at Heinz Field. I just think it’ll be a little bit more special with us having training camp there. It’ll feel a little bit different maybe playing at home after spending so much time there. I’m excited though, I know they’ll have it set up right for us. We’re definitely gonna miss the fans out there in Latrobe and the history and tradition, but we’ll maximize our time at Heinz and hopefully have a great camp.
The absence of the Latrobe environment is something that they cannot control, but the Steelers are trying to make the best of it by holding their activities inside Heinz Field itself, rather than at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, as some sort of surrogate home away from home—even if it is literally their home stadium.
At least from where we’re currently standing, it sounds very unlikely that fans will be allowed to attend anybody’s training camp this year. hopefully things change when it’s slated to open up next month, but if they push it back because there will be no Hall of Fame game, that will obviously be a bad sign.