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Steelers New Steelers, Panthers locker rooms are separate, simple

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

By Ray Fittipaldo, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

In the Steelers tradition, the locker rooms and athletic training facility at Heinz Field are simple, practical and efficient. The idea for the design was singular. Owner Dan Rooney would like players to have a historic perspective when they enter.

Steelers President Dan Rooney wanted his team's locker room designed so that when the black jerseys are hung, the players focus on them. (John Beale, Post-Gazette)

"One of Mr. Rooney's thoughts on the locker room is that it should be background," said Heidi Edwards, the stadium project manager for the Steelers. "When the players see the uniforms hanging in the lockers, that's what should stand out. He wants the focus on the uniforms, so when the players come in to get dressed they think of all the former great players who put on those uniforms."

The Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh will share Heinz Field. They will have separate locker rooms but will share a training facility and the showers and bathrooms.

The Steelers' locker room is 124 feet long and 52 feet wide and is bigger than the old locker room inside Three Rivers Stadium. There are 71 lockers for players, which means 26 won't be in use during the regular season because a team can dress only 45 players for a game.

Pitt's locker room will contain smaller, thinner lockers because college teams can dress their entire team for home games, which could be 100 players or more. About the only other difference between the two rooms is the Steelers' carpet is a black weave, while the Panthers' is a blue weave.

"They're not ornate or elaborate," said Edwards, who also was project manager for the Baltimore Ravens' PSI Net Stadium. "They're functional. We have plenty of space for big guys roaming around in here. It's a very practical layout. It's not overly done. It's clean and functional."

One unique feature that was not a part of the locker room at Three Rivers Stadium are eight mounted televisions throughout the Steelers' locker room. They are for pregame and postgame entertainment.

Edwards is not sure if the televisions will stay, however. She said it will be up to Coach Bill Cowher.

The Panther logo dominates the Pitt locker room in their new home. (John Beale, Post-Gazette)

Televisions in football locker rooms seem out of place. Unlike casual baseball locker rooms, football locker rooms are usually a subdued and contemplative area before games, and quiet after losses. But if they do stay, it might be interesting when the a player or coach breaks the first television during a temper tantrum.

The Steelers and Pitt's coaches have separate but similar locker rooms. Unlike many new facilities, the head coach does not have separate dressing quarters from the assistant coaches. This was mandated by Rooney.

"Mr. Rooney asked to make it one locker room," Edwards said.

There are two visiting locker rooms, one for visiting professional teams, one for visiting college teams. Both of those locker rooms are equipped with a folding partition that splits the rooms into two. This feature was specifically added for WPIAL high school football championship games, so four high school teams can use four locker rooms at one time, if necessary.

The visiting locker rooms are similar to the home team rooms in terms of size, space and convenience. Unlike older stadiums, where locker rooms are often small or unsatisfactory, visiting teams likely will not complain about the facilities here.

"I don't think the trend is to build something to be dilapidated," Edwards said. "People want to extend the same consideration they get at the other new stadiums out there. We don't want to do anything that's going to throw them."

The training area will function for game day use only. It has 10 taping tables, where trainers and assistant trainers will tape ankles and provide pre- and postgame treatment. There is a room with two extremity tubs for bumps and bruises.

"Any serious treatment goes on over at the South Side facility," Edwards said.

There will be a portable X-ray machine so team doctors can review preliminary X-rays on site. There was a portable X-ray machine at Three Rivers as well.

There are 19 showers for players, mounted at 7 feet, so the tallest players can fit comfortably.

There are also male and female dressing quarters for team trainers, equipment managers and other game day staff.

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