SBJ/June 24-30, 2013/Facilities

Lambeau bleachers create exception to NFL’s new bag rules

Don Muret
The NFL has provided some flexibility for the thousands of Green Bay Packers season-ticket holders accustomed to bringing their own seat cushions to Lambeau Field.

The NFL’s new bag policy, announced by the league earlier this month, lists seat cushions among the items fans cannot bring into stadiums on game days. Seat cushions are banned because they can be used to conceal potential explosive devices, according to the explanation on NFL.com, the league’s official website. The lone exception being made to the rule is for Lambeau Field, which opened in 1957 and has 66,000 hard metal bench seats.

“We spoke to the Packers about that item,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “It will be permitted due to the special circumstances with bleacher seating.”

The policy prohibits fans’ bringing in seat cushions, but Lambeau has 66,000 metal bench seats.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Last week, the Packers were still in discussions with the NFL to determine what will be permitted under the new policy. The team also had a meeting planned with local law enforcement to address the changes, club spokesman Aaron Popkey said.

For about 10 years, Green Bay fans have been able to rent seatbacks they can attach to bench seats. The 7,000 seatbacks sell for $6 a unit, and most are rented for every home game, Popkey said. The Packers also sell a Lambeau Field-branded stadium seatback/cushion for $30 at the Packers Pro Shop.

But for the Packers, the revenue tied to those items is not as important as educating their best customers about the new guidelines.

“For us, the concern is with fans that have their own seat cushions they have brought to the games for decades,” Popkey said.

The Packers plan to produce a video demonstrating the new bag policy, to be posted on the team’s website in July, he said. The team has done the same thing in the past to explain other increased security measures.

“It’s a learning curve for everyone,” Popkey said. “Big picture, it has been an evolution with stadium security. It started with the barriers around the stadium after 9/11. Then came the patdowns, and we were one of the first NFL teams to use wands.”

> COYOTE UGLY: The absence of Global Spectrum and AEG Facilities among the four bids submitted to manage Jobing.com Arena speaks volumes for how those two firms feel about the prospect of turning around the financially troubled facility.

Global Spectrum runs University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., across the street from Jobing.com Arena, and normally would be assumed to have interest in picking up another major league account. But with the future of the arena and of the Coyotes tied to the NHL’s finding a buyer for the team, a process that has gone on for several years with no resolution, Global Spectrum officials passed on responding to the city’s request-for-proposal to operate the building.

“We made a business decision that it didn’t make sense to bid until the NHL resolved the ownership situation one way or the other,” said John Page, Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum’s chief operating officer.

AEG Facilities, meanwhile, has had a booking agreement with Jobing.com Arena since 2008. Officials of Los Angeles-based AEG declined to comment on why they did not respond to the proposal.

The four bids include a joint proposal submitted by SMG, a competitor to Global Spectrum and AEG, in conjunction with Rojo Event Management, a division of the Arizona Cardinals, and booking firm Select Artists Associates. The bids also include a proposal by the Phoenix Suns to run the arena. The Suns run US Airways Center on their own, and the two arenas compete in the market for concerts and other special events.

Complicating the issue is that Renaissance Sports & Entertainment, the latest group attempting to buy the Coyotes, has told Glendale officials it will not buy the club unless it can manage the arena.

As of last Tuesday, the parties were negotiating behind closed doors for Renaissance to buy the team.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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