The NFL’s new bag policy has been getting real for football fans with that first home game of the preseason this summer. Tonight, that means Washington Redskins fans — particularly female fans — who might not have been paying attention are in for a surprise.
The Redskins host the Pittsburgh Steelers in an 8 p.m. game at FedEx Field and, if other preseasons games are any guide, some fans will be turned away by security. In the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, and in a game at Soldier Field, fans were emptying bags and trying to stash them in bushes or dropping them off in their cars.
“I had to hide my purse under a concrete barrier [outside the gates],” Brooke Cantu, a Cowboys fan from Texas, told the Associated Press at the Hall of Fame game. “I took the contents and put them in a plastic bag, but had to leave the purse. At least it’s not an expensive purse.”
The NFL’s Committee on Stadium Security approved new guidelines for just what can be brought into stadiums and the bag in which it must be carried back in June. Forget opaque backpacks and big purses. Everything must be fitted into one clear, plastic plastic, vinyl or PVC bag per person and it must be no larger than 12 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches. Fans can also use a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag.
In addition, each fan can carry a small clutch (with or without a strap or handle) of no larger than 4 1/2 inches x 6 1/2 inches.
What is not allowed? Forget binocular and camera cases; the NFL prefers that fans bring them on straps around their necks. Cellphones? Put ’em in a pocket or in one of the two bags. Seat cushions are not allowed; blankets are, but they must be carried over the shoulder (as Packers fans have done for years).
The only exception to the policy, which can be seen here, is for medically necessary equipment, which will be subject to search.
The new rule is in place partly because of the Boston Marathon bombings, but “our fans deserve to be in a safe and secure environment,”Jeffrey Miller, the NFL’s vice-president and chief security officer, told NFL.com when the new policy was approved. “Public safety is our top priority. This will make the job of checking items much more efficient and effective. We will be able to deliver a better and quicker experience at the gates and also provide a safer environment. We appreciate our fans’ cooperation.”
If it seems confusing, well, the NFL is ready to help. Many teams have sent bags to their season ticket holders and those who attend single games can visit the NFL’s online shop, where, conveniently enough, you can purchase a clear plastic bag with team logo. Those range in price from $9.95 to $12.95, roughly the cost of a stadium brew.