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. 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.
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.
If I have certain items that I need to bring into the stadium for medical reasons and they won’t fit in the clear bag, what do I do?
There will be a separate entrance to allow screening of these bags and medically necessary items.
What are some examples of how NFL stadium safety has evolved in recent years?
The NFL's Best Practices for Stadium Security was the result of a comprehensive evaluation of stadium security risks undertaken after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
In September 2001, the league office established a Task Force of league, club, and stadium executives to make recommendations on NFL security matters relative to fans, teams and stadiums.
November 2001, the NFL issued its Best Practices for Stadium Security. The central components specific to security checkpoint procedures were: 1) Continue current search criteria, including the prohibition of coolers, backpacks, large bags, explosives and weapons; and 2) Ensure adequate staff is available at gates to efficiently handle the inspections. Search all items allowed into the stadium and pat down coats and visually inspect outer clothing.
In June 2005, the following was added to the Best Practices for Stadium Security in reference to physical searches at security checkpoints: “Facility management should be prepared to implement additional screening measures should Department of Homeland Security elevate the alert level.”
In November 2007, The following was added to the Best Practices for Stadium Security in reference to the search of bags permitted inside the stadium: “Use a template at each public access gate to show allowable package size.” Also, the search of persons was enhanced to include a physical pat down of guests under the following recommendation: “NFL Policy requires visual inspection and limited pat-downs of all patrons, employees, vendors and game production personnel after lockdown of the facility has occurred on game days.”
In September 2011, the NFL recommended to the clubs that the limited pat-down searches conducted at all NFL stadiums be expanded to include: “a pat-down of the area from the knees down to the ankles in an effort to identify any concealed weapons.”
In June 2012, the following was added to the Best Practices for Stadium Security in reference to physical searches at stadium security check points: “NFL Policy requires visual inspection and metal detector screening (hand-held or walk-through) of all patrons, employees, vendors, and game production personnel after lockdown of the facility has occurred on game days.”
In June 2013, restrictions on specific bags, containers, and packages permitted inside stadiums were unanimously recommended by the NFL Committee on Stadium Security after discussion with all 32 teams.