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clear bagLadies, it appears that clear is the new black.

I was caught unaware of the NFL?s new clear bag policy last month when I attended a New England Patriots preseason game against the Buccaneers. I?m sure many other fans have been similarly surprisesd in recent weeks.

My first reaction was “What do you mean I can?t bring my bag into the stadium?! What, do you expect me to carry a Ziploc baggie?” The answer – “Actually, yes.”

Beginning with the 2013 season, and with very few exceptions, fans are only able to carry bags that are clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC and do not exceed 12 x 6″ x 12″ one-gallon clear plastic freezer bags (Ziploc or similar) or a small clutch bag approximately the size of a hand and no larger than 4.5″ x 6.5″. Prohibited items include coolers thermoses backpacks fanny packs cinch bags non-approved seat cushions computer bags and camera bags. Things that are still allowed? Blankets gloves hats and any other items that can be held or stuffed into your pockets.

The NFL has even dedicated an entire section of its website to explaining these new regulations and making it “clear” exactly what makes a bag NFL-compliant. The league tends to be on the cutting edge in terms of policies and procedures. It will be interesting to see if other sectors of the sports industry will follow suit. Similar measures are already beginning to be adopted by large college sports venues.

Which league is next?

The intention is that this policy will not only make the game experience safer but also speed up entry lines into stadiums. In my personal experience it seemed to take longer because so many fans were unaware of the new rules. But perhaps in the future when it becomes better-known lines will pick up as hoped.

Looking at this from a business angle along with this safety-minded policy come new product opportunities. Capitalize! The League certainly did not miss a beat producing an entire line of transparent merchandise branded with team logos. Now you can buy tote bags messenger bags and drawstring backpacks with your favorite team?s logo for anywhere between $9.95 and $19.95 from the NFL?s Online Store. Everyone knows that NFL merchandise is heavily licensed but this may also present an opportunity for you to promote your brand on a clear canvas.

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