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NFL's bag ban angers female fans

A general view of the stadium as fans observe the national anthem prior to the Houston Texans facing the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2012 in Denver, Colo.

The National Football League announced a controversial rule change starting this upcoming season -- a limit on the size and type of bags that can be brought into a stadium.

Starting this preaseason: no camera bags, no fanny packs, no backpacks, no seat cushions. The NFL says the policy is meant to provide a safer environment for the public, speed up security checks, and expedite fan entry into stadiums.

"The public deserves to be in a safe, secure environment. This is about both safety and improving the overall fan experience," states the NFL's website. "We had been discussing a new approach to bag restrictions before the Boston Marathon incident. We have come up with a way to do it that will actually make access more convenient for fans than it has been. We think the fans will embrace and appreciate it."

Small clutches the size of a person's hand, NFL-branded clear plastic or vinyl totes, as well as one-gallon clear plastic freezer bags will be OK to bring into stadiums. An exception will be made for medically necessary items. Of course, the ban has sparked controversy among football fans. Women, in particular, are upset about the purse restriction.

Melissa Jacobs of TheFootballGirl.com writes, "By asking women to leave their purses at home – and based on the restrictions, I mean asking every woman to leave her purse at home – the league is disconnecting from a fan base they are supposedly working so hard to expand."

By angering female fans, the NFL may be undercutting one of its target growth markets. In recent years, the NFL has focused on women in marketing efforts meant to boost its audience and revenue -- finding success through sales of league merchandise. Scarborough Research data from 2009 shows that women make up 42 percent of NFL fans compared to 58 percent for men.

The NFL's new policy got us wondering how it compares to other places where bag restrictions are in place. Here's a list of famous monuments and places and their bag policies.

  • Acropolis Museum, Greece
    Visitors are asked to avoid carrying large bags and luggage into the museum to avoid entrance delays.
  • Machu Picchu train, Peru
    Passengers are allowed to carry on one bag or backpack weighing less than 11 lbs. and smaller than 62 linear inches.
  • Major League Baseball stadiums
    Guests can bring any bag that is soft-sided (e.g., diaper bags, small purses, etc.) and whose dimensions do not exceed 16" x 16" x 8" as stipulated by Major League Baseball security regulations. Briefcases, coolers and other hard-sided bags or containers are not permitted.
  • Staples Center, Los Angeles
    All bags larger than 14" x 14" (i.e. backpacks, suitcases, beach bags, etc.) will be prohibited from entry into the arena.
  • Statue of Liberty, New York
    Large packages, suitcases, carry-on luggage and other large parcels are not permitted on the ferry systems or at Liberty and Ellis Islands.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, Australia
    Climbers are not permitted to take any items onto the bridge, including handbags.
  • Taj Mahal, India
    The website discourages visitors from carrying big bags and books inside the monument as it may increase security check time.
  • U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Hawaii
    No purses, handbags, fanny packs, backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags, luggage and/or other items that offer concealment.
  • Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
    You may not enter with any bags, backpacks or luggage measuring more than 40 x 35 x 15 centimeters. Any bag or backpack smaller than that is OK as long as it's not overly cumbersome and doesn't "jut out" by 15 centimeters from the body's shape in its highest point.

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.
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