FOXBOROUGH — Two miles from Gillette Stadium, a large construction sign warned New England Patriots fans that only clear bags would be allowed in the stadium.
The new policy that bans most bags is being introduced in several NFL stadiums this year, and fans at Friday night’s game, with emotions of the Boston Marathon bombings still raw, welcomed the extra security measures, for the most part.
“It’s still close to home,” said Lisa Mahar, 56, of Smithfield, R.I., recalling the April 15 attack. “Everyone is doing it because we want to be safe and we want our neighbors to be safe.”
Mahar had come prepared with a backpack-sized clear bag her niece had lent her.
“I usually would have taken a backpack with me, but we reduced it to the minimum,” said Joschim Wagner, 54, who added that at soccer games in Germany, his home country, they never have to do things like this, and he does not think it necessary.
‘The fact is, I don’t want a big bag or purse with me anyway.’
Under the new National Football League policy, fans cannot bring backpacks, large purses, or seat cushions into the stadium. The NFL had been working on the policy before the bombings, but it was expedited after the attacks.
The only bags allowed must be clear and not exceed 12 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches, said Stacey James, Patriots spokeswoman. Women’s clutches do not have to be clear, but they must not be larger than 7 inches by 4 inches by 2 inches, about the size of a hand.
One-gallon clear freezer bags are also allowed, as are cameras and binoculars, but not their cases. Blankets, jackets, and coats are subject to searches, James said.
But even for those aware of the policy, the stringency of the new rule was annoying to some.
“I already had to walk all the way back to my car because my bag was a few inches too big,” said Nicole Chionchio, 18, of Milbury.
Several fans also complained about the need to display all the contents of their bags.
“What if you’re a female and you have personal items in there?” said Donna Brown, 48, of Litchfield, N.H., as she and her daughter walked back to their car to deposit a bag.
For those willing to pay for a new bag, the Patriots Pro Shop offered a wide selection.
From small, clutch-sized purses to over-the-shoulder bags capable of fitting several sweatshirts, fans hauled clear containers of all shapes and sizes into the stadium Friday night for the preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The fact is, I don’t want a big bag or purse next to me anyway,” Mahar said. “I kind of like it.”