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The Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, VA.)
September 12, 2013 Thursday
The Virginian-Pilot Edition
SPORTS; Pg. C3
|Fans will see beefed-up security
By Harry Minium
Old Dominion football fans have essentially been on the honor system for the past three years when it comes to bringing banned items into Foreman Field.
Security officials would eyeball fans as they entered. Bags were rarely searched.
But Saturday, when ODU hosts Howard in its home opener, that policy is changing. Bags will be searched and banned items such as Frisbees, alcoholic drinks and cowbells must be pitched into nearby trash cans.
A sellout crowd of 20,068 is expected, and fans are being encouraged to leave large bags and backpacks in their cars.
Mike Fryling, assistant general manager for Global Spectrum, the company that handles game-day operations for ODU football, said bags were inspected in 2009, the school's first season. ODU had a more relaxed attitude the past three years.
He said that's changing in large part because other colleges have beefed up security at athletic events.
"It's a national trend," he said.
Much of the trend is a result of the Boston Marathon bombings last April, which killed three people and left hundreds injured.
The NFL responded with security measures that have been criticized for being too restrictive, especially by some women's groups. All bags, including purses, are banned from NFL stadiums. Only clear plastic bags no larger than 6 inches by 12 inches are allowed.
Michigan has had a similar ban since 2009. Several Big Ten schools adopted the same policy shortly after the Boston bombings. Rutgers began enforcing a similar ban last weekend when the Scarlet Knights opened at home against Norfolk State.
Most college football programs have increased security with more modest steps. Florida and Georgia recently began searching bags. Virginia Tech and Virginia have long had similar policies.
Norfolk State doesn't allow bags into athletic events, but purses are allowed after being searched, assistant athletic director Matt Michalec said.
Fryling said ODU's policy isn't a direct result of Boston, noting that most colleges had begun to search bags even before the bombings. He said he hopes to keep delays at ticket gates to a minimum.
"We don't anticipate it taking a lot of time," he said. "We have a good plan" to inspect bags quickly.
Most items banned from Foreman Field are a matter of common sense: fireworks, guns, skateboards, beer, beach balls, glass bottles and noisemakers, such as whistles.
But if you plan to bring a sandwich and bottled water, don't.
Food and beverages also are banned.
ODU has advertised the new policy on its website and in mailings to fans.
The thousands of people who tailgate on campus also will see a significant change. Previously, fans were assigned to certain lots, but could park wherever they wanted in that lot. However, ODU officials found that some early-arriving fans would take up several parking spaces.
The 1,700 tailgate passes mailed to fans recently are for assigned spaces. Officials anticipate some confusion as fans become accustomed to the new policy.
Most tailgate lots open at 2 p.m., four hours before the game.
Fryling said most of the feedback he has received from fans about new policy on searching bags has been positive.
"I think most people will tell you that they are happy that we are taking extra security measures," he said.
Harry Minium, 757-446-2371, [email protected]
David B. Hollingsworth | virginian-pilot file photo Under ODU's new policy, fans with tailgate passes will have to park in assigned spaces.
September 12, 2013