An expert in stadium security on Tuesday endorsed a plan to keep purses and other bags out of NFL stadiums, and predicted such a ban would soon spread to other pro sports, as well as to sporting events at colleges and even high schools.
"I think this will be a trend as we go down the road, to make our environments safe so we can enjoy ourselves," said Lou Marciani, director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security. "Reducing risk is the main objective."
"It's always been the NFL leading the way," he said. "And those of us in other categories — colleges, the NBA, NHL, now marathons, etc., and high schools — will be looking at what has occurred this season at NFL games ... and certainly by next year you're going to see some changes."
"We've been working with quite a few school districts that are concerned about their safety, and you're going to see some changes at the high school level," Marciani said. "A lot of them are looking at their policies and procedures. Because at 4 o'clock, our high schools change. They switch over. You have 11 million boys and girls that participate in after-school activities, you have 336 million people coming back on these high school campuses for different events ... it's a different world after 4 o'clock."
Marciani said the Boston Marathon bombings had probably spurred the NFL to make changes.
"The NFL has been looking for several years at ways they can increase safety," he said, "and I think the situation in Boston has probably encouraged their committee to look at ways of reducing risk. Reducing what can come in, in essence, improves their capability of reducing the risk for all of us."
The new NFL rules specify that purses will have to be no bigger than a person's hand to be allowed into a stadium, and that personal items will have to be carried in clear plastic bags. Fanny packs, camera bags and seat cushions will not be permitted. Marciani praised the restrictions an "evolution of best practices," and said the use of see-through plastic bags "reduces the human factor" in security lines.
"You have a human factor there at the stadiums for bag checkers," he said. "To make it as easy as possible for them, so they can be accurate, the clear-view bags are important ."
The NFL also recommends establishing secured buffer zones around stadium entrances, which Marciani also thinks is a good idea. "A lot of stadium managers welcome this, because the further out you can put the perimeter, the better off we all are," he said. "If you didn't do that, we'd be clogging up the gate."
Marciani predicted that any fan resistance will be short-lived.
"There's a little bit of a pattern here," he said. "The first two exhibition games, there will be a little bit of concern. But by the time we get to the regular season, the public relations efforts to remind fans about the new policies will probably be absorbed."