Posted August 12, 2013
For most Indianapolis Colts fans Sunday, the new NFL security rules were as clear as the plastic bags themselves. Every belonging brought inside Lucas Oil Stadium needed to be kept in an officially approved transparent bag or small clutch. No exceptions. NFL officials created the bag policy for this season following theBoston Marathon bombing. “I think it’s a great idea,” said Brian Houk, 47, who was in line at security with his wife, Shannon, 46, about 90 minutes before the Colts opened the preseason against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. “If it’s all for security, we’ll be better off.” Houk kept his belongings inside a clear plastic freezer bag given to him by a security guard standing outside. But several fans who hoped to get into the game with backpacks or purses were denied. Many said they didn’t hear of the rule change, or thought their bags would be small enough. “This is my very first game with my six-year-old son,” said Michelle Pinner, Indianapolis. “I was alarmed because women always carry purses. What’s the deal?” About 10 minutes into the first quarter, Pinner was still outside, waiting for a friend to pick up her mid-size purse so she could get into the stadium. She said she picked up her tickets through a promotion at a local Tire Barn and wasn’t told that her purse would be a problem. While Pinner could call a friend to hold onto her purse, others weren’t as lucky. Brittany Jones, 26, said she took a bus from her home on the Far Northside. By the time she arrived, it was already well into the first quarter. Her purse wasn’t approved either. “This is the smallest purse I have,” she said, pointing to a purse with straps that was bigger than the approved clutch size. “I think that’s really stupid.” Larry Hall, Colts vice president of ticket operations and guest services, said all 32 NFL teams went through great pains to get the point across in time for the first batch of preseason games. “We tried to create a lot of different layers of communication,” he said. There were social media posts, he said. Messages went out through ticket sale and resale sites, flyers were passed out in parking lots. There were media interviews and electronic billboards. (The policy appeared in The Indianapolis Star on Friday and Sunday.) “All in all, I think the fans have certainly taken to it,” Hall said. “We’ll make it an ongoing part of our communication program. Two, three, four games (into the season), then I think it will really resonate with our fans even more.” Many, Hall said, had already gotten the message. While he didn’t have an official count of how many people were stopped for having the wrong bags, he said the number of non-compliant bags was “minimal.” Many fans passed through security with the free plastic freezer bags given to them by security personnel. But that won’t be the only option. Clear reusable totes or drawstring bags within a certain size limit are also allowed. A few fans were early adopters. Some, Hall said, purchased reusable bags at local supermarkets. Others brought specially approved clear NFL bags given to them with season tickets or handed out at NFL promotional events. Call Star reporter Jill Disis at (317) 444-6137. Follow her on Twitter: @jdisis.