July 12, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a move designed to provide a safer environment and more expedited entry for fans, South Carolina Athletics is implementing a clear bag policy for all ticketed athletic events, beginning in 2016-17. Similar to those implemented by the NFL and many other college and professional stadiums, the new policy will limit the size and type of bags that may be brought into the venues for baseball, men's and women's basketball, football, men's and women's soccer, softball and volleyball, much of which has become the norm for large gatherings around the nation.
"In meetings with security personnel around the Midlands and with schools around the SEC, it has become evident that there is a new level of security measures that need to be implemented in our athletic venues," South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner said. "We feel that this new clear bag policy will assist our security personnel in making entrance into our venues a more efficient process while making game day safer for everyone."
The Athletics Department encourages fans to not bring any type of bag to games, but understands that there are some who prefer to do so.
Beginning with the men's soccer game against Winthrop on Thu., Aug. 18, at Stone Stadium, fans will only be able to carry the following style and size bag, package or container at any stadium plaza areas, stadium gates or when approaching queue lines of fans awaiting entry into the stadium for all athletics events:
- Clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags that do not exceed 12" x 6" x 12" -- A logo no larger than 4.5" x 3.4" can be displayed on one side of a permissible clear bag.
- One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar)
- Small clutch bags no larger than 4.5" x 6.5" -- approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap
- Medically necessary items (after proper inspection at specified gates)
Prohibited bags include, but are not limited to:
- Purses larger than a clutch bag
- Fanny packs
- Cinch/Drawstring bags
- Luggage of any kind
- Computer bags
- Diaper bags
- Binocular cases
- Camera bags
- Non-approved seat cushions, which include large traditional seat cushions that have pockets, zippers, compartments or covers
Guests will continue to be able to enjoy their tailgate activities in the parking lots and to do so with greater safety and the knowledge that their entry into the stadium will be smoother and faster. They also will continue to be able to carry items allowed into the venue, such as binoculars, cameras and smart phones. A complete list of prohibited items is available at www.GamecocksOnline.com/ot/game-day-information.html.
Chris Wuchenich, USC Assoc. Vice President of the Division of Law Enforcement and Safety
"We are grateful to our Athletics Department for their continued support of a safe and secure venue. Our implementation of a clear bag policy makes USC the fourth school in the SEC to implement this national `best practice.' We expect this to help with the security screening while improving the fan experience."
Chief W.H. "Skip" Holbrook, Columbia Police Department
"I applaud the University of South Carolina's efforts to promote public safety with the implementation of the clear bag policy. The new initiative helps fans, event security staff and law enforcement as a whole. We encourage spectators to have fun at athletic events while knowing that their safety is a top priority."
Sheriff Leon Lott, Richland County Sheriff's Department
"Having a clear bag policy is the world that we live in right now. Any time you encourage large groups of people to come together, safety has to be in the forefront of your mind. As a University of South Carolina graduate, I have a special investment in ensuring the safety of everyone who comes to support the Gamecocks, and this policy is a significant step toward that."
Mark Keel, Chief of South Carolina Law Enforcement Division
"SLED supports the University of South Carolina's clear bag policy at its sports facilities. This is a proactive step to enhance public safety during these events and to make access to them more efficient. This is not a new concept; many professional sports venues have similar policies. While we have no specific threats, a clear bag policy is another safeguard to allow USC fans to get the most out of going to see the Gamecocks play."
Statement from local FBI officials
The FBI asks members of the public to maintain awareness of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement. USC's new policy will aid law enforcement and enhance the safety of patrons.
Our guests are our most prized partners, and ensuring their safety is a top priority. World events continue to impact our security, and we can not ignore them in the annual analysis of our public safety and stadium security policies at all of our venues.
How does this policy improve public safety?
Clear bags provide layers of security with less inconvenience to our guests. As guests walk toward our events, law enforcement can easily spot prohibited items and have the ability to resolve issues before they even get into line. The clear bags are easier and faster to search, greatly reducing faulty bag searches. It also supports the Department of Homeland Security's "See Something, Say Something" campaign. Additionally, inside the venue, staff members know that a clear bag has already been searched and that any non-clear bag without a security tag requires their attention.
How does this expedite my entry into the venue?
This policy enables us to move guests through our security checkpoints faster, allowing staff to be more efficient and effective in checking bags that are brought into the venue. A standard size bag eliminates the need for bag templates to check sizes. In short, shorter lines mean fewer hassles, all while guests enjoy an improved sense of safety.
How many bags can each person bring into the venue?
Each ticketed guest can carry one large clear bag -- either a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag or the 12" x 6" x 12" clear bag -- plus a small clutch purse (4.5" x 6.5"). The small clutch must be carried into the venue outside the clear bag and is subject to search.
What happens if I show up at the gate with a bag that is not permitted?
Guests carrying bags that do not meet the criteria will not be admitted to the venue. They may return their bag to their car or will be provided a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag into which to transfer their belonging before entering the stadium. Transferring items to a venue-provided bag requires disposal of the non-approved bag, unless it fits into the clear bag.
Are team-branded bags available?
Guests who desire to carry South Carolina branded bags may purchase them at local retailers. However, any clear 12" x 6" x 12" clear bag with no commercial identification or an inexpensive one-gallon Ziploc-style bag may be used. Clear bags may have a logo no larger than 4.5" x 3.4" displayed on one side.
Can I bring my purse?
Yes, as long as it meets the size requirements. A small clutch purse, with or without a handle or strap, is permitted along with either the 12" x 6" x 12" clear tote bag or one-gallon freezer bag.
What about diaper bags?
Diapers and other baby supplies can be carried in a clear bag. Each member of a family, including children, is allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse into the stadium.
Can I carry cameras, binoculars, smart phones or tablets separately from the clear bag?
Binoculars or a phone or camera can be carried into the venue so long as it is not in its own bag.
Are seat cushions allowed to be carried into the venue?
Approved seat cushions may be carried into the stadium. Non-approved seat cushions and chairbacks 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 they won't fit in the clear bag, what do I do?
Guests carrying medically necessary bags or equipment into the venue will be required to have their bag/equipment inspected and tagged by security at specified locations within each venue. Those locations will be announced soon.
Do I have to put everything I'm carrying into a permissible clear bag?
No. This policy is designed to limit only the type of bags carried into the venue, not the permissible items that are brought to a game. In their pockets or jacket, guests can carry keys, makeup, feminine products, comb, phone, wallet, credit cards, etc., if they choose not to put them in a clear bag or clutch purse (4.5" x 6.5"). And, they can carry a blanket over their shoulders, binoculars and/or camera without the case around their necks or in their hands, and a sealed bottle of water in their hands. A complete list of prohibited items is available at www.GamecocksOnline.com/ot/game-day-information.html.
Does this policy apply to me if I'm working at the game, not attending as a fan?
Support staff and personnel such as equipment technicians, media, caterers, etc., will continue to enter the stadium through designated gates. These individuals and any items that they bring into the stadium will continue to be screened based on procedures that are already in place. Once screened, the bags will be temporarily tagged, showing that the bag has been screened and approved.