The NFL's new bag policy will help you enjoy games less

Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

The NFL and its 32 teams, including the Rams, have a new policy for bringing bags into the stadiums. It's not going to be very popular.

The NFL isn't going to let you bring bags or purses or backpacks or fanny packs or pretty much anything else into stadiums anymore. It's a curious move for a league that's been doing a lot of public handwringing about game day attendance.

Fans didn't respond well to the news either. And why should they? Women will have to leave purses in the car, a dicey proposition in a place like St. Louis where break-ins are pretty much the city's chief economic engine. Taking the kids to game? Hope you don't need a diaper bag, because that's verboten under the new rules.

The Rams sent out a boiler plate press release from the league explaining the change in policy on Thursday afternoon. It's a safety measure, designed to to expedite the process for getting long lines through bag check and into the games. Probably not a bad way to minimize anyone trying to bring outside food and drink into the game either.

I get it. Safety is a priority at large events like this. I'm not totally sure we really need a bag check, but I do understand the effort to minimize the hassle.

On the other hand, fans just got more incentive to stay home, cook a big spread of better and cheaper food and watch the entire NFL play in Hi-Def surrounded by your family and friends. I know what my choice would be.

Taking your family to the game is already a monumental and very expensive ordeal. Your $500 day at the Dome just got harder now that the NFL doesn't let you to bring those essential support bags into the games.

The NFL has the top product in pro sports. From revenue sharing to television broadcasts to league parity, it's a really sound model. However, the shortsightedness from 345 Park Ave. is amazingly short-sighted sometimes.

Compared to the league's unwillingness to acknowledge the long-term impact of head-trauma and Roger Goodell's courageous stand on behalf of a persecuted minority like Dan Snyder, the new bag policy feels relatively minor. At least until owners start feeling the effects of it at the gate on Sundays this fall.

You can still bring small, clear bags into games. And the NFL is happy to sell you those, as the press release points out.

Here's the full text of the release:

To provide a safer environment for the public and significantly expedite fan entry into the Edward Jones Dome, the Ramsannounced today an NFL policy that limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into the stadium.

The NFL Committee on Stadium Security in May unanimously recommended the implementation of this measure that will enhance public safety and make it easier for fans to gain access in all stadiums. It was discussed with all clubs at the May league meeting and will be implemented at all NFL stadiums beginning with preseason games.

The TEAM strongly encourage fans to not bring any type of bags, but outlined today what is permissible. Fans will be able to carry the following style and size bag, package, or container at stadium plaza areas, stadium gates, or when approaching queue lines of fans awaiting entry into the stadium:

Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12" x 6" x 12." (Official NFL team logo clear plastic tote bags are available through club merchandise outlets or at nflshop.com), or

One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).

Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap, may be carried into the stadium along with one of the clear bag options.

An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at a gate designated for this purpose.

Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, luggage of any kind, seat cushions, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.

For additional information, go to NFL.com/allclear.

Fans will continue to be able to enjoy their tailgate activities in the parking lots and to do so with greater safety and the knowledge that their entry into the stadium will be smoother and faster.

In recent years the TEAM has enhanced its already comprehensive safety plans with the additional measures such as pat downs, bag checks and metal detectors.

"Our fans deserve to be in a safe and secure environment," said Jeffrey Miller, NFL vice president and chief security officer. "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."

This public safety measure is being successfully used at other large venues. The University of Michigan, Penn State University and Michigan State University do not permit any bags, while the TD Garden in Boston only permits clutch bags.

Working personnel, including media, will continue to enter NFL stadiums through designated gates where they will be subject to screening and bag inspections already in effect at all stadiums.

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the NFL's new policy:

Why did the NFL and its clubs adopt this policy?

The league and clubs review their public safety and stadium security policies every year looking for ways to improve them. The Committee on Stadium Security and Fan Conduct leads this review and obtains a wide range of information to assist in doing so. The committee strongly believed that it made sense to adjust our policy to enhance public safety and make stadium access more efficient by limiting the size and style of bags carried into the stadium. This was reviewed with the clubs at the May league meeting and will be implemented by every team.

This proactive measure both will enhance safety inside and outside the stadium and speed the security screening process for all NFL fans. The public deserves to be in a safe, secure environment. This is about both safety and improving the overall fan experience.

Was this step taken because of what happened at the Boston Marathon?

That was a factor to take into account, certainly, but we update and improve the policy every year. It has evolved so that we can continue to adjust to the realities of public safety. We had been discussing a new approach to bag restrictions before the Boston Marathon incident. We have come up with a way to do it that will actually make access more convenient for fans than it has been. We think the fans will embrace and appreciate it.

Are other events limiting bags?

Yes. In fact, some like the University of Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State University do not permit any bags, while the TD Garden in Boston only permits clutch bags. The pat downs and metal detector screenings of all individuals entering NFL stadiums provide an additional level of safety for fans. The limitations on bag size and style is a further enhancement for convenience and safety.

How does the new policy improve public safety?

There will be a secondary perimeter around the stadium where security personnel will check for prohibited items or bags being carried toward the stadium so those situations can be corrected immediately. This establishes a protected buffer area for fans in plaza-level areas and at the queues for stadium entry. Prohibited bags will be turned away. Any prohibited bag inside the second perimeter will be highly visible and more quickly resolved.

The clear bag is easily and quickly searched and greatly reduces faulty bag searches. It also supports the Department of Homeland Security's "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign.

How does this make it more convenient for fans?

This will enable us to move fans through our security check points much faster. A standard size bag eliminates the need for bag templates to check bag sizes. It will make the stadium's job much easier, allowing staff to be more efficient and effective in checking bags that are brought into the stadium. There will be less time spent standing in lines at the stadium gates and fans will be able to be in their seats well before kickoff. Fans also will enjoy an improved sense of safety. Shorter lines mean fewer hassles.

Will teams be making money from selling team identified bags to fans?

There are a variety of options, including a clear 12" by 6" by 12" bag with no commercial identification or an inexpensive Ziploc bag. In addition, fans may carry their own small clutches. For fans who wish to purchase team logo bags, they will be available. [Teams that are giving away bags can insert language in this answer.]

How many bags can each person bring into the stadium?

One large clear bag - either a one-gallon Ziploc style bag or the 12" by 6" by 12" clear bag - plus a small clutch. The larger clear bag must be a standard 12" by 6" by 12" made of clear PVC vinyl and is easily searched. The one-gallon Ziploc bag is readily available, inexpensive and easily searched. The small clutch allows privacy for small personal items and also is easily searched.

Can fans carry cameras, binoculars, smart phones or tables separately from what they put in a clear bag?
Yes. Binoculars or a phone or camera can be carried into the stadium so long as it is not in its own bag. This is not a restriction on items that fans have been able to bring into the stadium. It is only a restriction on the type of container used to carry items.

Are seat cushions allowed to be carried into the stadium?
No, they are not due to the large size and because the way seat cushions are constructed would allow them to be used to conceal a potential explosive device.

What about bringing blankets in cold weather?

Fans will be able to bring blankets by tossing them over a shoulder or arm as they do in Green Bay. They can be easily screened carrying a blanket into the stadium.

Why haven't more stadiums and arenas adopted this kind of policy?

The NFL is the only professional sports league that has a comprehensive set of best practices for stadium security certified by the Department of Homeland Security as anti-terrorism technologies under the United States Safety Act. As such, other professional sports leagues look to the NFL as the leader in stadium and large venue security. Other stadiums have watched the NFL closely and followed, to the extent possible, security enhancements pioneered by the NFL. We anticipate that many more stadiums and arenas will soon adopt this policy.

What happens if I show up at the gate with a bag that is not permitted?

Fans carrying bags that do not meet the criteria will be turned away from the stadium well before they reach the gates. Stadiums are encouraged to maintain an ample supply of clear plastic tote bags or clear plastic freezer bags to afford guests the opportunity to transfer their belongings to an approved bag before they approach the stadium. As an alternative for guests that have no other option, stadiums are encouraged to consider providing the opportunity to temporarily check non-compliant bags at a facility located well outside the bag-restricted area.

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