When fans head to the Griz football team’s opening game this year, they’ll have to carry most of their belongings in a clear plastic bag.
Under a new security policy, spectators at Washington-Grizzly Stadium will be required to carry their belongings in either a 1-gallon plastic storage bag, a clear 12-by-6-by-12-inch tote bag with a single clasp, or a small clutch bag up to 4.5 inches. Seat cushions without any pockets, cameras and binoculars worn around the neck, and blankets carried over a shoulder are also allowed. Medical bags will also be permitted, but subject to inspection.
Chuck Maes, UM’s associate assistant director for internal operations, said that the new policy aims to streamline security screenings. While guests will still be asked to open their bags for inspection, “the goal is to speed it up and make it safer, speed up the entry into the stadium and (create a) safer environment once we’re in there.”
Recent years have seen a spate of terrorist attacks at sporting events and other large public gatherings, and sports leagues and universities have responded with new security measures, including clear-bag policies like these. “Everybody’s moving this way, and we sort of looked at it a couple years ago, and we decided to move it in," Maes said.
Montana State University implemented a clear bag policy with specifications identical to UM’s last year. Maes said that UM decided to adopt one in 2018, but waited until this year to implement it to allow more time to spread the word. Currently, the policy only applies to Washington-Grizzly Stadium, but Maes said it may be expanded to other venues in the future.
“You need to make sure that the bag that you’re purchasing is an approved one,” he said. Clear bags must be opened by a single clasp, not a zipper, so as to speed inspections. According to a question-and-answer on the UM Athletics website, “if a patron arrives with a single compartment clear bag with a zipper that is open and ready for inspections, they will not be turned away at the gate though they will be encouraged to use an approved bag in the future.
Guests carrying a non-compliant bag will be asked to leave it in their vehicle, home or hotel room before entering.
Michael Corbin, manager of the UM Bookstore, said they had ordered 1,000 compliant tote bags. That's large for a new product launch, he explained, but "we want to make sure we have enough to accommodate patrons looking for bags." He said the order size had been informed by demand at other schools that had made the switch.
The bags had not arrived at the campus bookstore as of early afternoon Friday. But Corbin said staff had received several inquiries about the new bags, and "we've let them know that we will have them shortly."
For more information on the new policy, and for information about local retailers selling compliant bags, visit https://gogriz.com/news/2019/8/9/football-new-for-2019-clear-bags-at-washington-grizzly-stadium.aspx.