TAMPA — Naura Rolon was getting near Raymond James Stadium when she learned her drawstring bag was too big and not see-through and wouldn't be allowed into the stadium under new National Football League stadium policy. The problem was quickly solved when a member of the event staff gave Rolon and her family gallon-size, clear bags. They shoved their belongings into the clear bags and went into the stadium with little delay but still slightly annoyed. “They always search,'' said Rolon, of Tampa. “I don't know what's the problem. It's a big-time hassle.” The Tampa Sports Authority, which manages Raymond James Stadium, on Thursday night had its first run-through handling the new NFL security measures when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played the Baltimore Ravens in the preseason opener for both teams.
Under the policy that was approved by the NFL in May, only clear bags -- 12 by 6 by 12 inches or smaller -- and hand-size clutch purses are allowed. Fans are allowed to carry no more than one approved clear bag and up to one clutch bag that can't exceed 4.5 by 6.5 inches. The new policy will be in effect for all Raymond James Stadium events, including college football. Fans may still carry keys, wallets, make-up and cellphones in pockets, jackets or approved containers, such as the see-through tote bags mailed to Bucs season ticket holders. Most people at Thursday night's game were aware of the policy change and were prepared. Lines at the gates moved smoothly and weren't particularly congested. Many fans were still sent back to their vehicles, though, when event staff positioned along a perimeter outside the stadium stopped people - mostly women with purses too large for the new policy - and told them they wouldn't be allowed in. Bucs fan Michelle King walked to the gate carrying a clutch purse in one hand and in her other hand a clear bag with a hand towel, beer holder, sunglasses, lipstick and her son's wallet. She wasn't thrilled that everything in the clear bag was visible. She liked being able to carry her personal items in the pink drawstring bag that she's taken to games in the past and that raises awareness for breast cancer, she said. “I accept it because that's the rule, but I'd prefer to have my own bag,” said King, 49, of Riverview. “It's what I've had for all these years.” As a season ticket holder, Steve Sibley got a clear Buccaneers tote bag mailed to his home. As he walked to the stadium with his daughter, he carried the bag, which contained two rain ponchos and two Bucs hand towels. “I understand how it is,” said Sibley, 61, of Tampa. “I understand they need to be safe.” Eddie Vance said he hoped the change would help people get into the stadium quicker because security workers wouldn't have to rummage through bags. “Hopefully this will speed up the lines,” said Vance, 47, of Temple Terrace. “The lines were long last year.” Bobby Silvest, vice president of marketing and communications for the Tampa Sports Authority, said he was pleased with the results. “Everything went well at the gates,” he said. Next week, the different staffs involved with security at the stadium will review how it went and make adjustments as needed, he said. [email protected] (813) 259-7659