ODU Athletics

Minium: We Did a Trial Run that Proves You Can Carry a Lot of Stuff into ODU Football Games in a Standard Clear Bag

August 25, 2019
By ODU Athletics

By Harry Minium

Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig recently suggested that my wife, Ellen, and I take a standard clear bag that fans will be carrying into Old Dominion football games and show how much stuff will fit.

“Maybe you can write a column about it,” he said.

Selig knows that some ODU fans are worried that the implementation of a clear-bag policy this season will turn into a big hassle. Bags can be no larger than 12 inches wide and high on the front and back, and 6 inches wide on each side. And we definitely need to address those concerns.

So on Saturday afternoon, Ellen and I dropped by the ODU bookstore and purchased some Monarch gear and clear bags and started packing.

We’re both well beyond having kids -- we have five grandchildren -- but because we’ve heard concerns from so many families about not being allowed to carry diaper bags, we included  six diapers, baby wipes, a baby bottle and two containers of Earth’s organic puree.

But that was just the start because we packed a ton more stuff. The picture below lists all the items included in the large clear bag, and as you can see, there was room to spare.

Ellen in the east side stands are S.B. Ballard Stadium carrying a standard clear bag. 

Ellen pointed out something that Wood and I didn't think of -- that many people would prefer carrying a smaller bag. 

So we also purchased a smaller clear bag, measuring 9 inches tall and 6 inches wide, from the ODU bookstore that can be strapped across your body.

And although it isn't something she'll use every day, it's actually kind of stylish.

Again, it had more than enough room for everything she plans to take when ODU opens the brand new Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium this Saturday against Norfolk State.

Ellen with a small clear bag that straps across your body. They are available at the ODU bookstore for $20. 

Most of the feedback that we've heard from fans on clear bags has been positive. Most people understand that it's a necessary step to improve safety, and that most other major college football programs, including Virginia, Virginia Tech and the entire SEC and Big 10, have adopted clear-bag policies.

So has the National Football League, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association. Major League Baseball venues require fans to walk through a metal detector and empty your pockets as if you're entering a plane.

James Madison University will require not only clear bags, but for fans to walk through metal detectors.

For those of you concerned about the new policy, you can still carry a camera (without the case) around your neck, a blanket over your shoulder and your phone, wallet, credit cards, makeup and feminine products in your pants or jacket pockets.

All this policy does is restrict the type of bags being carried into the stadium. We won't be asking you to empty your pockets.

Some of you submitted questions online about the new policy. Here are some answers:

What is the new policy?

In short, it calls for you to carry most of your stuff into the stadium in a clear bag. Standard clear bags that can be used in hundreds of venues around the world are available at the ODU bookstore. But you don’t have to purchase one – simply open your kitchen drawer and take out a one gallon zip up plastic bag. They are also available from many retailers online.

You can’t bring in large purses, fanny packs, coolers or backpacks. And to state the obvious, you can’t bring guns, knives, fireworks or anything explosive.

How many bags can each person carry into the stadium?

Each ticketed fan can carry in one clear bag. Each fan can also carry a small clutch purse (no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5). The small clutch purse must be carried into the venue outside the clear bag and is subject to search. 

How does the policy improve safety?

As fans walk toward events, law enforcement can easily spot prohibited items and can resolve issues before people get into line. Clear bags are easier and faster to screen. Inside the stadium, staff members know that a clear bag has already been screened and that any non-clear bag requires their attention.

Will this really speed up my entry into the stadium?

The policy has shortened entry times considerably at many venues. This isn’t rocket science. It takes less time to look at a clear bag rather than search through a backpack.

What happens if I show up at the gate with a bag that is not permitted?

Sorry. No prohibited items will be allowed into the stadium. You may return your bag to your car.

For those of you reading this, please tell your friends about this policy and share this story on social media. Our goal is for everyone to know about the policy before Saturday's kickoff. We don't want anyone to experience an unpleasant surprise.

Will bags be made available to fans?

The Old Dominion Athletic Foundation is providing 5,000 bags that will be handed out to season-ticket holders in tail-gate lots. All 5,000 bags will include some goodies and each bag was packed on Saturday by coach Bobby Wilder's football players. Players I talked to Saturday night said it was a joy to pack bags for their fans.

What about diaper bags?

No. But as Ellen proved, there is room for diapers and other baby supplies, including baby bottles, in a clear bag. And here’s the good news: each member of the family, including each child, is allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse into the stadium.

There should be plenty of room for the items you need to take care of your little ones.

We've heard stories about ODU fans who began attending games when they were babies. Perhaps you remember the story I wrote about such a baby, Valerie Dingus, who grew up to become an ODU cheerleader.

Click here to read Valerie Dingus story

Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium is a family-friendly venue.

Can I carry cameras, binoculars, smart phones or small tablets separately from the clear bag?

Yes. They may be carried into the stadium as long as they are not in their own bags or cases. 

Can seat cushions be carried into the stadium?

Yes, but only approved seat cushions. Non-approved seat cushions and chair backs include any that have arm rests and any large traditional seat cushions that have pockets, zippers, compartments or covers.

If I have certain items that I need to bring into the venue for medical reasons and won’t fit in the clear bag, what do I do?

Bring them with you. Fans carrying medically necessary bags or equipment into the venue will be required to have their bag/equipment inspected by security at the gate, but will be allowed into the game. We care about your health as well as your safety.

Do I have to put everything I’m carrying into a permissible clear bag?

No. Items you generally carry in pants or coat pockets don’t need to come out of your pockets. You cell phone, wallet, keys, etc., can remain in your pants or coat pocket.

Does this policy apply to the media, support staff, concessions workers and others?

It does not. If you’re working at the game as reporter and have a pass, you must arrive at the southwest gate. Your bags will be searched and tagged.

Will the same policy apply to basketball games at Chartway Arena?

That hasn't yet been determined, but my guess is that it will apply. 

Further questions?

Email me at hminium@odu.edu

If I don’t know the answer, I’ll get one for you.

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