Many of you are not going to like this, but from the sounds of it, the NFLPA would like to make many of the offseason changes that we saw this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic permanent—one of those changes being something that most teams have already done for a while now, but to which the Pittsburgh Steelers have been resistant.
The NFL announced in the first week of June that it would not be permitting teams to travel to off-site locations for the purposes of hosting training camp, and housing players and staff inside of those off-site facilities.
The Steelers have held their training camp at Saint Vincent College for many decades, and they have a very close relationship not only with the college, but with the greater Latrobe area. Pittsburgh coming to town for a month in the Summer has become a crucial period for their local economy.
The NFLPA, however, does not want to allow teams to require their players to house outside of their own homes for the purposes of training camp. While it’s not entirely clear if they would be in support of an off-site location that does not require players to house there, the distance between Pittsburgh and Latrobe would not make this feasible for the Steelers.
Readers should keep in mind that this is merely one of the things that the NFLPA would like to retain moving forward. It doesn’t mean that this has been formally discussed, or that the NFL would grant it. There are at least a few teams remaining who have deep-rooted training camp traditions, the Green Bay Packers being another.
With that said, it is something that we shouldn’t be surprised to see come to pass, either, if it comes to that. The vast majority of teams over the past decade plus have already shifted from off-site locations to their own facilities as it is.
The Steelers hosted training camp inside of Heinz Field this year. I don’t know that we can say that the team was any worse off because of it, though, of course, we had no access to training camp this year, and things were much different in general.
Presumably, even with a change of venue, assuming that things return to normalcy by next Summer, the team will still permit fans to attend training camp, even if it is held a Heinz Field. It would certainly be a different experience, and it would shift the demographic of who would be able to attend, but it may become necessary.