Bags of all sizes will be prohibited in Michigan Stadium for this Saturday’s homecoming football game against Indiana University, according to University security officials.
How will the ramped up Big House security measures affect your gameday experience?
The ban “includes, but is not limited to, purses, lunch sacks, binocular cases, fanny packs and diaper bags,” according to a press release posted on the Department of Public Safety website and e-mailed to ticketholders.
Exceptions will be made for those with written permission from medical professionals, according to the press release.
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said the policy was changed as a result of FBI and Department of Homeland Security bulletins issued to law enforcement officials across the country this week.
She said the bulletins indicated that sports stadiums, entertainment complexes and hotels could be at risk.
Brown emphasized that there have not been any specific threats “in our stadium or in the state of Michigan at this point.”
The stricter security at the Big House comes after federal agents arrested Najibullah Zazi in Denver last Saturday. The airport shuttle worker was believed to have been plotting an attack on New York trains with backpack bombs. In a subsequent search of Zazi’s apartment, investigators found bomb-making instructions and evidence he had been researching stadiums, entertainment complexes and hotels on his computer.
Backpacks and cell phones were confiscated from apartments Zazi had visited in New York.
Zazi, his father and New York City imam Ahmad Wais Afzali were arrested on charges of lying to the FBI.
Brown said the bulletins did include information about the arrests.
“We’ve always recognized that our stadium, not only by being so large, but so well-known, makes it a possible target,” she said. “That’s common knowledge, quite honestly.”
A no-bag policy was introduced in Nov. 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. For the 2002 season, officials stepped up security further, requiring students to present MCards at the gate for the first time.
Brown said the bag restriction was lifted during the 2002 season.
First-year Business graduate student Gordon Saft, who is from New York, said the move doesn’t bother him.
“I remember going to Yankee playoff games three weeks after Sept. 11, and no one could bring anything in,” he said.
“I think people can make that sacrifice if there actually is a threat that seems legitimate,” he continued. “It’s 100,000 people in one place. I see no issue with it.”
Saft added that he doesn’t bring bags into the stadium to begin with, and that it was the female fans he would “imagine would have a problem with it.”
“I think it’s a little bit extreme,” said Kanika Kochhar, an LSA freshman. She said there should be “a different process,” like one similar to airport security screenings.
Asked if metal detectors would be used by security at the game, Brown said DPS reserves the right to do so, though “it has not been a traditional method.”
But some female fans downplayed the inconvenience.
Katie Jourdan, a first-year Public Health student, said her pockets were enough.
“I think a lot of people don’t mind just bringing their ID, a little bit of cash or maybe a camera or something,” she said.
Kinesiology junior Lara Hitchcock agreed.
“Personally, it wouldn’t be a big issue for me,” she said. “I don’t really bring anything.”
The press release encourages fans to arrive at the gate earlier than usual, as the increased security could slow the flow of entry.
The gates will open at 10 a.m.
“Students have been arriving very, very late,” Brown said. “They should come sooner this weekend.”
— Daily Staff Reporter Mallory Jones contributed to this report.