“We’ve never been able to put a number on the exact amount of visitors, but it’s over 50,000 and possible as many as 100,000 fans that come to visit,” said St. Vincent College’s PR director Don Orlando about fans who flock to watch the Steelers conduct training camp on the campus every summer.
What keeps the fans coming back each year is St. Vincent College’s hospitality, the friendly environment and the (free admission) entertainment it provides for families.
Along with free admission, there is no charge for parking. The location of St. Vincent College is an important asset when it comes to having available space for temporary parking. Fields surround the campus, providing area for 2,000-3,000 cars to conveniently park.
“We show hospitality to the Steelers and the fans that come to watch,” said Orlando. “We also show good hospitality to the media that attend.”
The media are very important to St. Vincent College during the summer training camp, as their work enhances the visibility of the college itself. Visitors are able to see what the college has to offer. Print, radio and TV broadcasts provide exposure you couldn’t buy for any price, according to Orlando.
“The biggest thing that the Steelers’ presence means for us is it gives us an opportunity to present ourselves to a much bigger audience,” said Orlando.
The attention of the camp has enormous benefits to the local business community surrounding the college. According to Orlando, Latrobe-area businesses have said that the presence of the Steelers around the college dramatically increases their customers.
“Hotels, restaurants, gas stations, Walmart, K-Mart and local department stores have all seen an increase in their traffic,” said Orlando.
The college puts forth a lot of time and effort in order to prepare for camp. The college dining services adds 50 seasonal workers who join a staff of 75 people to prepare meals for the Steelers and their fans. The staff determines the menus for meals, field concessions and snacks.
General manager Reggie Esmi and executive chef Dan Keeley supervise the meal planning, which included 1,600 pounds each of beef and chicken, 1,100 pounds of fish, 1,200 pounds of cheese and 120 cases of frozen desserts. It doesn’t just stop at the food, though.
Keeley said his team ordered 160 gallons of orange juice, 90 gallons of peach, apple and cranberry juice and 50 gallons each of guava and grape juice.
While the media focuses on the hard work and effort put forth by the Steelers, it’s St. Vincent College’s Office of Facility Management that does the heavy lifting.
That staff includes 33 groundskeepers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, custodians, and technical specialists that complete 90 percent of their work before coaches, players or fans ever set foot on campus. Nearly 1,000 hours are devoted to prepping for this event.
Over a mile’s worth of fencing is set up in order to direct fans where to stand for autographs and watch practices. Tables, chairs, Port-A-Johns, barricades, dumpsters and many other pieces of equipment are set up in order to tend to the needs of visitors.
“Some of the work is challenging, because a large amount of heavy furniture needs to be moved from residence hall rooms and lounges to create special rooms for training, offices and other needs,” said St. Vincent College’s director of facility management, Larry Hendrick.
When it comes to making sure the public is safe at such a large event, the college’s public safety staff is always prepared to assist any unexpected emergencies.
“Sprained ankles, bloody noses and fainting do occur and every effort is made to contact the appropriate emergency responder to provide treatment or transport,” said St. Vincent College’s director of public safety Steve Brown.
Another popular on campus attraction is the St. Vincent College bookstore. Since July, the bookstore staff has been stocking the shelves with black and gold. Fans love their Steelers merchandise, and the bookstore stands prepared, along with the Robert S. Carey Student Center.
From labor and maintaining the grounds to feeding thousands of visitors, St. Vincent College passes the test every summer for Steelers fans.