Following in the footsteps of the NFL, an Ohio State spokesman announced on Monday that Ohio Stadium will be adopting a “clear bag policy” starting with Saturday’s home finale against Michigan State.
The clear bag policy is a security measure that limits attendees at the ‘Shoe to bring their belongings in a 14-inch-by-14-inch clear tote bag, or a small handbag “approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap.” A one-gallon plastic freezer bag is also permitted.
This comes in the aftermath of a series of terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday that resulted in more than 120 deaths and many more injuries. Two of the attacks were suicide bombings outside of the Stade de France, where a soccer match between France and Germany was going on.
At least one of the bombers had a ticket to the match and tried to enter the game but was stopped by security outside the stadium.
“I think this is a direct result of what’s going on around the world. We’re trying to respond to that,” said OSU athletic director Gene Smith. “Make sure we add additional measures beyond what (University Police Acting Chief Craig) Stone and their team does. But, yeah, I think this is the beginning of different changes that you’ll see down the road.”
Smith said Stone approached the administration Monday morning about adopting the new security policies.
“We’re trying to make sure we have a safe environment. And in light of the things that are going on around the world, we had a meeting this morning with Chief Stone and his team,” Smith said. “We’ve talked about this in the past, just haven’t gotten to the point to implement it. This is certainly an appropriate time to do that.”
According to an OSU press release, fans are still permitted to bring in items such as umbrellas, binoculars, seat cushions and empty plastic water bottles.
Smith said the added security precautions are overdue and were expedited by the attacks in Paris. He said the university will continue to look at additional policies on a consistent basis.
“I think we will constantly look at what other security organizations do, what our security people will recommend to us,” Smith said. “I rely on our experts, like (Monday) morning when Chief Stone first surfaced the idea, our team didn’t have hesitation.”
In addition to the new policy on bags, Stone said increased security measures will be taken with regards to vehicles in the area on gameday.
“We set up a buffer zone, so there won’t be any large vehicles entering into that buffer zone larger than the size of a van,” Stone said. “Any vehicles entering the buffer zone to set up is only by approval, pre-approval, and those vehicles are still checked and swept for bombs.”
Stone added that an increase of uniformed personnel and K-9 units will be present, but he would not disclose the projected cost of the added measures.
Smith said OSU is not planning to produce and sell appropriately sized clear bags, but the university has been in contact with local stores to begin stocking them.
OSU has drawn more than 108,000 fans to each of its past two home games, and a similar near-record crowd is expected for a marquee matchup against No. 13 Michigan State in a game that has major ramifications in the Big Ten East Division.
Smith said cooperation from everyone attending the game is required to move things along smoothly, and he said the university encourages fans to arrive well before the scheduled 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
“We’re going to pay a lot more due diligence at gate, so it might take you a little longer to get in. So the earlier you come, the better,” Smith said.
More than anything, Smith stressed that the main purpose for adopting the new policy is to increase safety, but fans must be on the lookout to do their part if they see anything suspicious.
“This is an effort that requires everyone’s help,” Smith said. “This is not just on public safety, not on athletics, this is on the customer as well, the fan as well; we need you. If you see something, say something.”