Levi's Stadium visitors, beware bringing your oversize bag.
Event goers at the 49ers' new 68,500-seat stadium will be subject to the National Football League policy restricting the size and type of bags at all events -- from high school football to WrestleMania -- according to the team. After having the NFL policy vetted by public safety officials, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority adopted it in its entirety, 49ers director of communications Bob Lange said.
Purses larger than clutch bags the size of an adult's hand must be checked in and left at the entrance gates of Levi's Stadium, which hosts its first 49ers game on Sunday when the Denver Broncos visit for a 1 p.m. exhibition.
"This is done to protect and make our stadium as safe as we can so people when they come there, they can just enjoy the event," Lange said of the policy.
"When you say the word 'safety,' I don't know how anyone can argue that fact. Maybe there's an inconvenience that first time, but then it's, 'Hey, that is a good idea, prevent things that make it less safe.' "
In advance of Sunday's game, the 49ers stepped up outreach efforts for fans and are planning to begin distributing approved clear plastic bags free of charge at entryways, parking lot entrances and near public transit areas at all events throughout the season, Lange said Wednesday. By providing approved bags at parking lots, the 49ers hope fans will be reminded to leave oversize bags in their vehicles.
49ers season ticket holders and seasoned NFL fans attending games at Levi's Stadium might have already adapted to the year-old policy. According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, the bag regulations were "successfully implemented" at Candlestick Park last preseason as the league explained the policy would enhance public safety in wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and move fans through security checkpoint lines faster.
But on Aug. 2, as 48,765 fans were in attendance at the Earthquakes-Seattle Major League Soccer match marking Levi's Stadium's inaugural sports event, some fans were either unaware that the NFL policy would be enforced for a soccer event or were entirely unfamiliar with it.
The result was four times the number of bags being checked at Levi's Stadium compared with the first day of integrating the policy at Candlestick Park, according to Lange. Fans described chaos after the soccer match, as a long and disorganized line formed at a central location for checked bags piled onto tables waiting to be claimed by their owners.
"It was just madness, and people were just yelling and screaming and just holding up purses (saying), 'Oh, that's mine,' " said Earthquakes fan Kayla Masini of San Jose, estimating she needed 45 minutes to retrieve her clutch that was over the 41/2-by-61/2-inch limit.
Said Jane Price of Menlo Park: "The joke was, 'A man must have planned this.' "
Like Masini, Price rode Valley Transportation Authority light rail to the stadium unaware she would need to check her bag. She had tried to do research but missed the Earthquakes' mention of the policy on their website and Levi's Stadium's reminder in a gameday tweet. She didn't realize her day pack would be prohibited from entering the facility until another fan informed her at the security checkpoint.
Price reluctantly handed over the day pack and accepted a claim check. She declined to purchase a clear bag for $10 and placed house keys and a wallet into her coat pocket.
"Everything else was like I may never see this again," said Price, who after the game was surprised to learn the day pack had been moved to a different location from where she checked it. Price was able to reclaim her bag.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are continuing to try to reunite unclaimed bags with their owners, according to Lange, who acknowledged the team would seek to learn from and correct a "tough situation" at the Earthquakes match.
"I think what you saw at the Quakes game is entirely out of the norm," Lange said. "When we host another event that is not a 49ers event, we'll obviously be making more of an effort to educate the fans about the policy before they enter the stadium."
With the NFL's bag policy being enforced for the Aug. 29 Friday Night Lights high school football doubleheader, the 49ers communicated that to all schools involved, according to Concord De La Salle athletic director Leo Lopoz. The school sent out an email to its community and posted the bag policy on its website.
As for the checked bags, Lange said he expected tweaks rather than wholesale changes to the process as the number is expected to drop while awareness of the policy increases.
Masini said despite a stressful experience, she understood the reasoning behind the policy and would return to Levi's Stadium even though others in line were heard saying they would not. She'll just arrive with a different mindset.
"I will never ever bring a bag," she said.
Follow Diamond Leung at Twitter.com/diamond83.
The 49ers have adopted the NFL's bag policy for all events at Levi's Stadium. The policy prohibits all bags and backpacks with these exceptions:
Approved bags are subject to inspection upon entry and within the stadium.
Oversize bags and prohibited items must be checked in at bag check sites in front of Gates A, C and F. These sites close one hour after the completion of the event.
Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, nonapproved seat cushions, luggage of any kind, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.
For more information, go to www.nfl.com/allclear.
Non-NFL events that will be affected by the Levi's Stadium/NFL bag policy:
Aug. 29 -- Friday Night Lights high school football doubleheader: Wilcox-Santa Clara vs. Manteca and De La Salle-Concord vs. Jesuit-Sacramento.
Sept. 6 -- Mexico vs. Chile international soccer friendly.
Oct. 24 -- Cal vs. Oregon, Pac-12 Conference regular-season game.
Dec. 5 -- Pac-12 Conference championship game: North Division winner vs. South Division winner.
Dec. 30 -- San Francisco Bowl (formerly the Fight Hunger Bowl): Pac-12 team vs. Big Ten team.
Feb. 21 -- NHL Stadium Series: Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings.
March 29 -- WrestleMania 31.
April 11 -- Monster Jam monster truck event.
April 18 -- Monster Energy Supercross motorcycle racing.