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St. Vincent puts on game-day face for Steelers

By Paul Paterra
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

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It's an annual rite of summer -- the Pittsburgh Steelers trek to St. Vincent College to kick off another football season.

This year, players will report July 27 to the Unity campus for the 42nd annual training camp, with the first practice set for July 28 at 2:55 p.m. It's the second camp under coach Mike Tomlin, who returns to St. Vincent two months after delivering the college's commencement speech.

"We have beautifully groomed fields, which are really the canvas upon which another masterpiece is going to be created in this camp," said Jim Towey, college president. "People from this community are excited. They know if it's July and it's sunny out, it's time for Steeler football to get ready for the season."

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Towey spoke Tuesday at a news conference held atop the bleachers at Chuck Noll Field.

There will be one major change this year -- more field parking. Parking will be available in a groomed field on the same side of the road as the practice fields.

Ongoing road construction surrounding the campus will necessitate an additional entrance to the campus from nearby Brouwers Road.

"It's going to have an impact on people going into and out of the facility," said Steve Brown, director of public safety. "The access area is going to be different. ...They'll actually enter the parking area off of Brouwers Road."

The campus starts preparations for training camp in April. The college has 275 resident rooms readied for the Steelers' arrival, as well as the classrooms and weight rooms the team uses.

"There's about 300 hours total that we put into just preparing," said Larry Hendrick, director of facility management. "Right around April we have our meetings internally, then we meet with the Steelers, get their dates set and talk about anything from last year and any changes that may need to be taken care of for this year."

Parkhurst Dining Services at St. Vincent will provide the food service for the team, including three meals a day and an evening snack.

"We usually start developing the menu about two months before the camp and forward it to the Steelers for their approval," said Reggie Esmi, general manager of Parkhurst Dining. "We normally take a look at previous years and combine it and see what they like and adjust the menu according to that."

St. Vincent increases its fresh-cut fruit inventory by 200 pounds per day to accommodate the players. For a carved turkey meal, the staff will prepare 23 turkeys. For two dinners during camp, 120 pounds of baby back ribs will be cooked. There will be one special meal that will include roasted beef tenderloin, Canadian lobster tails and seafood pasta.

"We're preparing for an average crowd of 200 people per meal," said Rick Laskie, executive chef. "The menu is based on what we're doing for the Steelers and extends throughout the campus to other venues. There's a variety of proteins on each meal. ... Then we also have a poultry, some sort of a seafood and a beef or pork variety. We would probably prepare about 50 to 60 pounds of each protein per meal."

"We love it," Hendrick said. "We look forward to it every year. It's a lot of work, but we like having folks come to our campus and love having the Steelers here."

Paul Paterra can be reached at .
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