The NFL’s controversial new bag policy made it’s regular season debut Thursday night in Denver when the Broncos hosted the Ravens, and while most fans seemed understanding about the safety concerns that lead to the initiative, a majority of those asked still expressed a variety of frustrations.
Beginning in the preseason, the NFL implemented a new policy limiting the size and type of bags allowed into stadiums. All bags larger than the size of a hand must now be transparent and, with the exception of necessary medical devices, no bags larger than 12” x 6” x 12” are allowed past the entry gates. The league-mandated policy also prohibits “coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, non-approved seat cushions, luggage of any kind, computer bags and camera bags.” The NFL is encouraging fans to either bring one-gallon plastic freezer bags to hold their belongings or to purchase a bag from their new “All Clear” line of team-branded products, which range in price on NFLshop.com from $9.95 to $19.95.
Because of the new restrictions, those most effected by the new policy tend to be women, as regular-sized purses often don’t conform to the new standards.
“F**king awful,” Corrinn White of Denver said when asked what she thought of the new policy while waiting in line to enter the stadium. “It’s for our safety and I get it. However, it might be a little extreme. We might just need more personnel here to check bags.”
Broncos season ticket holders were told they would be issued officially licensed All Clear bags to ease the transition to the new policy. However, many complained of issues when getting the new bags.
“We own four season tickets, we come from Telluride and we were sent one bag to carry in,” said a woman who identified herself as Angie. “ It’s not right. We got it in the mail with no information as to how to get more.”
Megan Lawrence of Denver expressed similar concern. “I have two season tickets and you still only get one bag. It’s ridiculous.”
Marilee S. of Parker said she too was sent only a single bag for her four season tickets. “It came one per account and there’s four on the account. Not one per seat, one per account. They always looked in our backpacks before, so that was the security then. We think it’s just because they want to sell more things at the stadium.” She said she was unable to purchase a bag from the team’s Dove Valley headquarters and had to drive to the stadium to get it.
Despite the 90-degree temperatures around kickoff, many fans also worried that the new bag sizes would be too small to accommodate the items necessary for cold-weather games.
“There’s no way come wintertime your hat, you gloves, your scarf are going to fit in there, along with your wallet, your cell phone, and your keys,” said Lawrence. When asked if she had ever felt unsafe at Broncos games in the past, she answered, “No. Never. For the money they make, they could set up metal detectors for us to walk through.” However, patrons at the gate this writer entered through were, in fact, subjected to a metal wand detector.
In addition to attempting to make the fan experience safer, a video explaining the new policy also claims it will “get you to your seats faster,” as security has no need to inspect transparent bags. But the lack of privacy for personal items seemed to trouble several of those asked.
“What I carry in my purse is my business and that should be my business, not everybody else's,” said Brittany Gallegos of Windsor, CO. “It kind of sucks that [security] will look, but that’s just one person, not everybody at the stadium.”
While most of those asked said they were aggravated by the policy change, there were some who expressed understanding at the new regulations.
“It’s to protect everyone,” said Tracey M. of Highlands Ranch. “I’m totally comfortable; I’ve got my license, my lipstick, and my ID. If you want to go to events like this and have fun but be safe, you gotta do what you gotta do.”
“Every time my husband and I see a mass shooting on TV, he says ‘Why don’t they open up in the stadium?’ If they want to get a lot of people, they’re going to open up in the stadium,” said Leslie Safranek of Merna, NE. “So as much as it stinks not to carry a bag, I get it.”
Most fans, though not all, said they were aware of the changes prior to the season opener, and those who weren’t were directed to a complimentary bag check. As NFL fans grow accustom to the new rules, problems stemming from a lack of awareness will obviously subside. One problem, however, is sure to persist.
“I just want to kick it with my cute little handbag and just mosey on in,” said Erica J. of Westminster. “It downgrades my swag.”