Women throw flag on NFL purse rules

Female Steelers fans can find drawstring bags, totes and purses to show their support for their favorite team while also stashing their wallets and other personal items.

They just can't bring those bags into Heinz Field on gameday anymore.

The National Football League announced new bag restrictions last week prompted in part by the April terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon and aimed at increasing public safety during games. The list of items now prohibited at Heinz Field includes, but is not limited to: purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, seat cushions and camera bags.

The league will allow one-gallon clear plastic freezer bags, bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches and NFL-licensed clear pastic tote bags with team logos affixed to them.

Bettina Elstro, 33, hasn't been to a Steelers game in Pittsburgh since she moved to Los Angeles from here 10 years ago, but she tries to remain a loyal fan. She saw the team play in San Francisco last year, and she blogs on YinzLuvSteelers.com.

Ms. Elstro doesn't go anywhere without a purse, and when she's headed to a Steelers game, "I have this Troy Polamalu purse that I love."

She called the new rules "excessive."

"What are people going to do when they bring their bags and find out they aren't allowed in?" she said. "Where would I keep all my stuff? What if you're wearing a dress and it doesn't have pockets? ... It doesn't really cater to the female population."

Cassandra Buncie, 41, of Lawrenceville, said she has already begun to search for bags that meet the new requirements to sell through her online store Black N Gold Girls.

"I'm sure there will be a very savvy manufacturer out there that will capitalize on the change," Ms. Buncie said.

While Ms. Buncie usually stashes her ID and money in a pocket and leaves her purse at home, she said some women will be inconvenienced.

"I think it will be the biggest drag for mothers who have smaller children with them," she said.

Ms. Elstro said she would have no objection to more bag searches at NFL games instead. At a recent event in Los Angeles with the city's new mayor and former President Bill Clinton, she said she simply had to let a guard look through her bag and wave a metal detector wand over her.

"If that level of security is sufficient for mayor and presidents, then it should be enough for football games," she said.

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Megan Doyle: mdoyle@post-gazette.com. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published June 17, 2013 8:15 PM


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