TAMPA — Danger may be lurking in women's purses, the National Football League said this spring, deciding that stadium security checks were not enough.
In a move meant to increase safety and cut down entry times, the NFL now bans most purses from football games.
In Tampa, this is being expanded to all the events at Raymond James Stadium, officials announced Wednesday — not only Tampa Bay Buccaneers games, but also University of South Florida Bulls games, the annual Outback Bowl and monster truck jams.
This change was in the works before the Boston Marathon bombing, officials said, but the tragedy influenced the decision.
"I hate to say it, but it's the world we live in," Bucs CEO Brian Ford said.
Each person may bring in a clear bag not larger than 12-by-6-by-12 inches. That's about the size of a 1-gallon clear plastic freezer bag, one of the suggested options. But no regular purses. And no diaper bags.
The rule seems akin to asking a woman to cut off her right arm. Some say it rivals airport security.
But Michelle Pacetti, a six-year Bucs season ticket holder from Tampa, said the new bag is big enough to carry the essentials and then some.
"If you're going to go watch a football game, do you really need all that stuff?" she asked. "Imagine if you have a $300 bag and someone spills a beer on it. Here, spill all you want."
She already bought her clear bag with the Bucs logo. She says that as inexpensive as the bags are, it might be easier to give them out at the first football game for free — like a door prize.
"You'll be amazed how many guys are going to walk in with that clear plastic bag themselves," she said. "They're not ugly bags."
The NFL held some focus groups of women to judge the move, said Mickey Farrell, Tampa Sports Authority vice president of stadium operations.
Game-goers are allowed one small clutch in addition to a clear bag. The clutches don't need to be clear. The idea is that people can put personal hygiene items in the clutch, which can go inside the larger clear bag.
People with bigger concerns, such as those with medical equipment, will be allowed through a specific gates set up for more thorough checks.
At Tropicana Field, the Tampa Bay Rays ban coolers and wrapped presents, but purses and bags are allowed. The Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum bans large bags, backpacks, wrapped packages and other items, but purses are fine.
The sports authority expects the policy to quicken stadium entry to Bucs games. Last season, the team averaged about 51,000 attendees per game. But it is possible the change could slow things down at first.
Event planners want to avoid sending people with nonregulation bags hiking back to their cars. Parking attendants and law enforcement officers on bicycles will help get the word out. Employees will pass out fliers as people walk toward the stadium. And at major intersections, the sports authority will post bullhorns with prerecorded messages explaining the rules.
At Walters Press Box Sports Emporium & Eatery in South Tampa, manager Michael Elarbee said his customers haven't been fully informed of the changes.
"I think the first game is going to be chaotic," he said. "I think the Bucs should keep some gallon bags at the gate to be helpful."
The sports authority said it does, indeed, have such plans for the first several games.
In the next few weeks, Bucs and Bulls football season ticket holders will get regulation-size clear bags in the mail.
Bucs bags are available online at shop.buccaneers.com for $7.99.
Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.