BARRY WILNER,AP Pro Football Writer
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Bring yourself to the game. Leave the cooler and backpack at home.
The NFL is tightening stadium security starting this preseason, limiting the size and type of bags fans can bring to the game.
The restrictions are designed to enhance security while speeding up entry into stadiums.
With the exception of medically necessary items, only clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches will be allowed. One-gallon clear plastic freezer bags also will be OK, as will small clear plastic bags approximately the size of someone’s hand, with or without a handle or strap.
One of those clear bags and a small clutch bag will be allowed per person.
Binoculars, cameras, and smartphones also will be permitted.
Banned items will include purses larger than a clutch bag; coolers; briefcases; backpacks; fanny packs; cinch bags; seat cushions; luggage; computer bags; and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.
The league is encouraging fans not to bring any bags to games.
“Our fans deserve to be in a safe and secure environment,” Jeffrey Miller, the NFL’s chief security officer, said Thursday. “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.”
An NFL committee on stadium security recommended these measures in May and the owners have approved them.
A secondary buffer area well outside the stadium will be established where security personnel will check for prohibited items or bags being carried toward the ballpark. Fans with prohibited bags will be turned away until they dispose of those bags. Stadium personnel are being encouraged to have approved bags on hand to give to fans, or to have a place outside the restricted areas to check items, so that fans can reclaim after games.
Recently, the NFL has done pat downs and bag checks and also used metal detectors to upgrade security. The new policy announced Thursday has worked well at colleges such as Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, which do not permit any bags in their stadiums. Boston’s TD Garden allows only clutch bags.
The NFL ramped up security at the draft in late April, its one major event since the Boston Marathon bombings. In a statement Thursday, the league said:
“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.”
Stadium workers and media will continue to enter NFL stadiums through designated gates where they will be subject to screening and bag inspections.
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