SBD/August 20, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL's New Bag Policy Gets Mixed Reviews In First Weeks Of Implementation

The NFL's new bag restrictions for fans entering stadiums have some people, "women, in particular, on the defensive," as large bags are "no longer allowed at any stadium," according to Matt Lauer of NBC. The topic was discussed on this morning's edition of "Today," with NBC's Janet Shamlian saying some fans are "scrambling to comply." Many fans before last night's Steelers-Redskins game "were turned away," as the new rules are "taking a page seemingly from the TSA's playbook." The new rules were implemented following the Boston Marathon bombing, and NBC News security analyst Michael Leiter said, "In many ways, this is predictable after an event like Boston. It's important for these large, public gatherings to have increased measures of security. On the other hand, this is more extreme than we've seen elsewhere." Shamlian reports the new guidelines come as the NFL is "increasingly focused on the female fan, now almost half of pro football viewers and the one who usually controls the checkbook." But Shamlian said it "could be a tough sell" as a "woman's purse is her world." Standing outside of FedExField, Shamlian displayed the NFL's see-through tote bag that sells for $8 and said, "I will leave it to you guys to judge the fashion merits or lack thereof of the new approved bag." Lauer noted, "They should make those bags available for less money than that. Even as part of their fan appreciation, they should maybe give some away." NBC's Savannah Guthrie said it is a "good rationale for security of course but as women, (there is) the horror of having what is in your purse visible" ("Today," NBC, 8/20).

BUFFALO HERDERS: In Buffalo, Denise Jewell Gee reported the new restrictions "rankled more than a few fans Friday" at Ralph Wilson Stadium before Vikings-Bills, as some wondered if it "wasn’t just a grab at more concession money by making it tougher to sneak in contraband beers and bottled waters" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/19). Also in Buffalo, Hans Glick wrote the new policy "was not without its pitfalls." Members of the Bills’ new “Blue Team” Tailgate Patrol "drove by in a golf-cart to give folks in need of league-approved storage space complimentary freezer bags." However, Glick noted "no clear bags were available for purchase" at the Bills mobile gift shop. A shop employee said that the team "expected to have the clear bags in stock in time for the next home game." Meanwhile, the majority of fans "whisked past security and into the stadium," but several women could be seen "arguing with security about their purses, which exceeded the new 4.5-by-6.5-inch cutoff." Bills officials "expected as much." Bills VP/Event Operations & Guest Experience Andy Major said, “We anticipate some women that have been used to bringing in a large purse in years prior will go to a clutch purse" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/17).

MIXED REACTION: In Boston, Todd Feathers noted fans for the Buccaneers-Patriots game Friday night "welcomed the extra security measures, for the most part." Several fans "complained about the need to display all the contents of their bags." The Patriots Pro Shop offered a wide selection of bags "for those willing to pay" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/17). In St. Louis, Joe Lyons wrote the new policy "will take some getting used to." When a message on the policy was shown on the scoreboard during the Packers-Rams game Saturday, "some in the crowd of 53,375 booed" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/19).
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