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Sports

New NFL bag policy will be enforced for all RayJay events

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Published:   |   Updated: August 1, 2013 at 07:48 AM

TAMPA - All events at Raymond James Stadium, not just Tampa Bay Buccaneers games, will now adhere to a new NFL security policy that restricts the size and types of bags fans can carry into the stands.

The NFL enacted the measure in May for all teams, but officials with the Tampa Bay Sports Authority, the agency that manages Ray Jay, said Wednesday those rules will be used at University of South Florida football games, the Outback Bowl, concerts, monster truck rallies and other events.

The first test of the bag restrictions comes a week from now, when the Bucs host defending Super Bowl champions the Baltimore Ravens at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 8.

Mickey Farrell, the vice president of stadium operations for the sports authority, said volunteers will be posted on major intersections near the stadium and will walk through tailgating areas reminding fans of the new bag policy.

"They'll have bullhorns and handing out clear bags," Farrell said of one type of bag that will be allowed into past the gates. "It's all about safety for all the fans."

Farrell said the sports authority and Bucs officials are still in the planning stages of what they're calling a secondary perimeter, a zone between the parking lots and gates where stadium staffers will check for acceptable bags.

The secondary perimter will establish a protected buffer area for fans in plaza-level areas and at the lines for stadium entry, he said.

"We're still planning how far out that perimeter will be and how many people will man it," Farrell said.

Fans who are still carrying prohibited bags at the perimeter will be turned away and told to leave the items in their vehicles.

Brian Ford, chief operating officer for the Bucs, said the security policy was conceived by the NFL months before the Boston Marathon bombing. An NFL committee reviews safety and security issues every year to make improvements, Ford said.

"It's really not to create any inconvenience for fans," he said. "This new bag policy being implemented in cooperation with the Bucs, USF and all our other partners will continue to put public safety as our top priority."

According to the new rules, only bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches will be allowed. Also permitted will be 1 gallon clear plastic freezer bags and small clutch bags, about the size of a hand.

That means no purses larger than a clutch, coolers, briefcases, backpacks or fanny packs, seat cushions, luggage, computer bags and camera bags.

Cameras, binoculars and smart phones will be permitted. Anything that fits in a pocket can stay in a pocket.

The policy does not affect the tailgating sections around the stadium.

Every person is allowed to carry one clear bag into the stadium, Farrell said, so if a family of four is going to a game, that means the family's belongings can be distributed among four separate bags.

Officials said the clear bags will help lines move quickly.

"It's not about restricting what you take in," Farrell said, "it's about the type of bag."

Ford said the Bucs are mailing NFL-approved clear bags, which feature the team's logo, to season pass holders in time for the preseason opener next week.

The bags also are available on the Bucs' online team store and via the NFL's website and will be sold in the team store inside the stadium.

Bill McGillis, USF associate athletic director, said Bulls season ticket holders will receive similar bags with the university's logo printed on them.

"For all of us, it's about the fan experience at Raymond James Stadium," McGillis said. "We don't think it will turn out to be a terrible experience for fans."

For information on the policy, visit www.buccaneers.com/NFLBagPolicy or www.nfl.com/allclear.

rreyes@tampatrib.com

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