MANKATO, Minn. — Beginning with the Aug. 9 preseason game against the Houston Texans, the Minnesota Vikings will implement their new policy regarding bags that are allowed into the Metrodome.
“This is ultimately about fan safety and continuing to come up with ways to keep our fans safer and the public safer, as well as expedite entry in the stadium,” Vikings director of corporate communications Jeff Anderson said Tuesday as the team offered examples of what would be allowed as part of the new policy. “We think that’s going to be the added benefit of this decision.”
The team is encouraging fans against bringing any bags to the stadium, but will be enforcing the NFL-developed policy. Minnesota will only allow transparent bags — plastic, vinyl or PVC — no bigger than 12″ x 6″ v 12″, one-gallon clear plastic storage bags such as a Ziploc bag and ladies clutch purses no bigger than the size of a hand.
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The league said no particular incidents led to the change, though the attacks during the Boston Marathon have increased scrutiny for security at such events.
“Certainly I think the Boston Marathon incident was taken into consideration, but this started with the NFL committee on stadium security,” Anderson said, noting the new policy had unanimous approval by the committee and each of the 32 teams. “Every year the policy is reviewed. This is a continuation of a few years ago we had the metal detectors added. So we’ll continue to evaluate the policy, the league will the teams will every year and continue to make adjustments.”
The team will also be deploying “Vikings’ fan ambassadors” on game days around the stadium, parking lots and light-rail stations to help educate fans about the new policy. The Vikings will be sending a clear plastic tote with a Vikings-logo to all season ticket holders and will also sell such bags at the team’s merchandise store at the stadium.
There will be exceptions made for medical equipment.
The team is also planning to have a bag check, similar to a coat check, available for the first few games this season while fans learn of the new policy.
Felton returns, Vikings nearly at full strength: Fullback Jerome Felton, who missed the past two afternoon practices while dealing with a personal matter, returned Wednesday and participated fully in practice.
Minnesota has largely avoided the injury problems many other teams around the league are facing. Defensive tackle Letroy Guion injured his elbow on Saturday, but returned for the next practice.
Pro Bowl changes: The league announced several changes for the Pro Bowl starting this season. Minnesota had seven players play in the Pro Bowl last year, including running back Adrian Peterson, fullback Jerome Felton, left tackle Matt Kalil, defensive end Jared Allen, linebacker Chad Greenway, kicker Blair Walsh and tight end Kyle Rudolph, who won the MVP award.
The game scheduled for Jan. 26, 2014 will eliminate the AFC vs. NFC format and will include a fantasy-football like draft for teams, conducted by Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. There will be a televised Pro Bowl player draft on Jan. 22. Players’ association president Dominique Foxworth proposed some of the changes to increase interest in the game after it has waned in recent years.
“We were very receptive to the ideas that Domonique and the players put forth,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “From there, our office worked closely with him in developing the concept. The players made it clear that they wanted to continue the Pro Bowl and were committed to making it better than ever. We think these changes will enhance the game for both fans and players.”
The league has also eliminated kickoffs in the game. Teams will start each quarter with possession on the 25-yard line. Other changes include a new two-minute warning at the end of the first and third quarters with the ball changing hands at the end of the quarter, rosters that will consist of 43 players per team, and the ability for defenses to play Cover-2 or press coverage as opposed to only man coverage in the past.