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About Staples Center’s no-bag policy: Fans still aren’t having it

A variety of bags — including totes, a backpack and purses — on a table
Staples Center introduced a strict no-bag policy that has many frustrated and concerned.
(Victoria Hernandez / Los Angeles Times)

It’s understood that going to a game in a pandemic is going to require a different code of conduct, but when Staples Center posted on Twitter about its new COVID-19 protocols on Wednesday, fans were confused and upset at the venue’s new no-bag policy. The arena said the rule was put in place for efficiency and to be as contactless as possible in order to comply with guidelines from the state and county as well as the NBA and NHL.

At first glance, the policy seems rather extreme, especially considering it was not allowing for purses, clutches or even the clear bags that the NFL and Dodger Stadium allow.

“Honestly, it’s just dumb,” comedian Sarah Colonna said. “It makes it really difficult to attend games.”

Lakers fans should expect extensive safety changes, including a ban on all bags, for games at Staples Center.

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Colonna has been to many sporting events in her lifetime as her father, Jim Colonna, was a sports editor for the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times, and her husband, Jon Ryan, was a punter for the Seattle Seahawks for 10 years. When the NFL introduced its stricter bag policy in 2013, it allowed for a clear bag or a small clutch that was 4½ inches by 6½ inches. Colonna didn’t like the idea of having her personal items and cash showing for the world to see, so she developed Clutch Women, her own brand of purse that complied with the regulations.

Among the news of the Staples Center no-bag policy, she shared a video on Twitter of herself going through security at the Coliseum using her Clutch Women bag to watch her husband play against the Rams a few years ago. She explained that the process can be contactless and noted how easy it is if security asks a fan to see what’s inside to simply open the small bag. People have items like EpiPens, medication and other essential items that don’t necessarily fit in pockets.

“I think” the no-bag policy “is silly because it’s so sweeping,” Colonna said, adding that “it’s very simple to have a clutch.”

The idea that women are expected to fit everything into their pockets was alarming to many. In general, the pockets on women’s clothing aren’t large enough to fit a wallet, cellphone and keys, much less feminine products or medication.

“The pockets in our clothes, they’re useless,” said Kendra Kroll, founder of PortaPocket, a wearable pocket alternative.

A few hours after its initial post sharing the no-bag policy, Staples Center clarified the rule, assuring fans that diaper bags and medical bags would be allowed with additional screening. There will be lockers for people to place their items that won’t fit in their pockets. The venue also addressed the problem that people were raising about how to carry in hygiene products, saying that complementary products would be available in the restrooms. From there, questions about allergies and sexual identity were raised.

Staples Center representatives said that what they will be checking for is that items can easily be taken out of wherever they’re stored and put into the security tub while the guest goes through metal detectors. So essentially, purse alternatives could be used.

Kroll, who hails from Chicago, founded PortaPocket 14 years ago. She came up with the idea for a portable, close-to-body pocket after a tampon rolled out of her pocket at the gym while she was in the middle of a set of flat bench flies. Her embarrassment in that moment was the impetus to save herself and others from such mishaps.

“That was really the momentum right there, that was my epiphany,” she said.

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