Steelers look forward to annual ‘Friday Night Lights’ practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium
Training camp is special for many Pittsburgh Steelers fans when the practices are held at Chuck Noll Field on the campus of Saint Vincent in Unity Township.
But nothing quite matches the atmosphere for the annual “Friday Night Lights” practice in town at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. This year’s event is scheduled for this Friday.
“It’s kind of more of a Showtime type of feeling compared to just being out here at Saint Vincent where the mode is real chill,” cornerback Mike Hilton said. “But it’s going to be an exciting feeling. The fans are going to be out there, and we’re going to enjoy it.”
Friday’s practice is the only one of camp open to the public in which admission is not free - it’s $5 for adults and $2 for children and seniors, sold by the Greater Latrobe School District. The school district typically sends its cheerleaders and band, contributing to a more festive atmosphere.
“One of the things that I take from it is just having an ability to be able to practice in front of the fans and get engaged and be as close to that as possible,” defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt said.
“It’s a good change of scenery ... A lot of people outside in the community get a chance to see us practice. That’s the most important part.”
Although, unlike in recent years, ESPN is not broadcasting from the practice; Sirius XM will be. Steelers alumni will be signing autographs, and a Steelers Nation Unite tent will be set up, giving away prizes. Current players will sign autographs for 15 minutes prior to the scheduled 7 p.m. practice start time.
Mostly, though, it’ll be a two-hour practice session in which coach Mike Tomlin typically tends to ramp up the intensity (think, goal-line drill).
Wednesday, Tomlin emphasized the energy in the stadium and the closeness of the fans to the field.
“It’s great to get in that environment to work at night,” Tomlin said. ”.... I’m always excited about what (the annual night practice) represents.”
Said cornerback Artie Burns: “We get to kind of have a game-simulated environment with the fans there. It’s under the lights. You love playing under the lights. There’s no better feeling than that.
“It’s great energy. ... It’s a fun environment.”