New security measures await fans entering Bank of American Stadium to watch the Carolina Panthers in their preseason opener.
The Charlotte Observer reports that when fans show up for Friday night's game, they will encounter new policies put in effect in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon last April. The new rules are designed to protect fans and speed up security lines.
Under the new rules, only clear plastic or clear vinyl bags no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches will be allowed. Sealable plastic bags are OK, as are foam seat pads without zippers, clasps or compartments.
Carolina is asking fans to arrive 30 minutes earlier than normal Friday to account for the changes.
NFL Chief Security Officer Jeffrey Miller said fans regularly asked him to speed up the security process and the new policy should do that. He added that the league was further spurred to action by the bombings at the finish line of April's Boston Marathon.
"We were looking at our entry process already," Miller said. "And sadly, then we had the terrorist attack in Boston and that certainly impacted us."
Just over a week after the bombings, no bags were allowed at the NFL Draft. The league still "strongly encourages" fans to leave all bags at home.
Miller said that the new rules were put in place for the first time at last week's Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, and that the process went smoothly.
The security changes join a list of procedures enacted in the past, such as bag checks, pat downs and metal detectors. Among the items that the Panthers currently list as permitted: tablets, but not laptops.
To further speed entry into the stadium, the Panthers have doubled the number of screening points and moved them closer to the street this season.
"The stadium was designed before 9/11 and before there were security checks and things like that," said Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton. "We needed to make some interventions to account for the extra security."