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Diaper bags out, clear bags in: Heightened security moves into Sun Devil Stadium

TEMPE – Arizona State University now allows football fans to rely on clear bags to carry items into Sun Devil Stadium, joining other professional and college teams seeking to make game days safe and secure but drawing mixed reviews from fans.

The change comes after the NFL, including the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium, and several Pac-12 colleges adopted the clear-bag policy.

“It’s going to help our security easily identify what’s in the bag and get the fans through the line quickly,” said Maggie Emmons, spokeswoman for Sun Devil Athletics.

Acceptable alternatives at the ASU stadium include plastic grocery bags, Ziploc-style bags and clear purses or drawstring bags. What’s out: diaper bags, full-size strollers, backpacks, fanny packs, tote bags or any carrier that isn’t see-through or can’t fit in the palm of a hand.

And there’s a limit on clear bags: one per person, Emmons said.

Robert Wagner, an ASU fan of 20 years, said the new policy makes sense.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “It’ll help to keep it safer and faster to get in.”

Count Rachel Dinaso, a senior speech and hearing sciences major at ASU, among those who don’t like the clear-bag rule.

“I don’t like all my stuff exposed,” Dinaso said. “It’s kind of awkward.”

Adriana Parsons said attending the football games with her husband and two young children became a lot more challenging.

To attend the games, the Parsons would have to pack all of their game-day necessities in gallon-sized storage bags, or ones sold by the stadium or other retailers.

“We have diapers, a set of extra clothing, wipes, bottles (and) burp rags,” Parsons said.

The Parsons are huge Sun Devil fans, but they haven’t been to a game this season. If they do go, Parsons said, they may have to go without the kids.

“It’ll make it significantly harder to go to the games, so we might have to incur additional costs, such as childcare,” Parsons said.

Emmons said the policy doesn’t dampen the family-friendly aspect of the football games. Each family member may carry one clear bag into the stadium.

“I think there’s also a misconception of how big a bag is because we do reference that one gallon size. But the actual bag size, 12-by-6-by-12, is substantial,” Emmons said.

However fans feel about the policy, it is becoming increasingly common.

The NFL has used a clear-bag policy since the 2013 season and ASU is the eighth Pac-12 school to implement the rule, Emmons said. Some schools go even further. Ohio State University does not allow any bags to enter Ohio Stadium, according to its website.

The three-year-old policy also applies to major events, such as concerts and festivals, according to Scott Norton, a spokesman for events – not the Cardinals – at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“Diaper bags are banned, the contents of the diaper bags are not banned,” Norton said. “We’re just restricting basically the vehicle they used to get them inside the stadium.”

Clear gallon-sized bags are handed out at events at University of Phoenix Stadium if people show up without an accepted bag, Norton said.

ASU said the Cardinals experience shows Sun Devil fans can adapt as well.

“This behavior has been in place for three years with the Cardinals and people have gotten really comfortable and used to that,” Emmons said. “So I think it should be pretty easy for our fans to adopt it.”

Still, she said ASU spread the word about the change in various ways, including posting information on the website, sending out news releases, placing signs outside Sun Devil Stadium and handing out flyers and pamphlets about the new rule to fans.

Fans who printed their tickets at home and season ticket holders also received a reminder along with their tickets.

Emmons said 21,000 visitors, according to metrics analysis, visited the information on its web site in the second week of the season.

University officials also eased fans into the new policy by allowing them to bring solid bags into the stadium for the first two games and handing out plastic bags for future use.

“Anytime you change behavior for such a large group of people, there’s going to be that learning process,” Emmons said. “So to enforce it strictly for the first two games would have been a disservice.”

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