Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Wands replace pat-downs for fans at Bucs games
TAMPA - Fans attending Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games this year no longer will be subjected to pat-downs when they enter Raymond James Stadium. Instead, fans will be screened with a hand-held magnetic wand, a revision that Tampa Sports Authority officials said will be less intrusive, increase security and allow for quicker access into the stadium. The change goes into effect tonight for the Bucs' preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. Kickoff is at 7:30. Stadium gates open at 6 p.m., and parking lots open at 4 p.m."We're optimistic that as fans get accustomed to this procedure, it will result in less time in line and smaller crowds at the gate prior to kickoff," said Mickey Farrell, operations director at Raymond James Stadium. Fans will need to have keys, phones and other metal items in their hands during the wand screening. Bag searches will still take place, and prohibited items may be confiscated. The wand procedure was implemented in limited areas during games near the end of last season. The NFL began requiring pat-downs in 2005, but the Bucs stopped the procedure after a few games when a Valrico man filed a lawsuit that said it was unconstitutional. A circuit court sided with the man, but a federal appeals court reversed that decision in 2007. Tonight's game will be blacked out on local television, and plenty of tickets remain. Eric LeGrand, the former Rutgers player who briefly signed with the Bucs in the offseason, is scheduled to participate in the coin toss. Fans will receive a free magnetic Bucs schedule upon entering the stadium.