NORMAN, Okla. — There are some major stadium policy changes fans need to be aware of when the season starts next Saturday at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
In light of the events of the Boston Marathon bombing, three types of items are now prohibited: any and all types of bags and backpacks (conventional or string-type cinch), seat cushions and chair backs and merchandise bags.
“Every time something happens around here, whether it’s an active shooter or whether it’s, yes, the bomb or something happened at our university right outside the gates in 2005, there’s always that question and it’s stuff that absolutely keeps me awake at night praying that something like that does not ever happen in our facility,” said associate athletic director of events and facilities Lindy Roberts. “You want to do whatever you can. And when you see those types of things that happen exactly in Boston, it just makes you quiver just thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, that could happen anywhere.’ And I’ll tell you the conferences I’ve been to, we talk about all these things.”
“We really talk about best practices and what we need to be doing. We look at the NFL. We look at Major League Soccer, what they’re doing, all kinds of other universities. We really do a lot of research with what a lot of other people are doing.”
Several revised items are allowable in 2013.
Those include the following: women’s purses smaller than 10” by 10,” empty, clear personal water bottles, approved medical devices and approved family care items, such as diapers and formula in 10” by 10” or smaller bags.
A full list of items that are not allowed include the following: alcoholic beverages, any and all types of bags, baby seats, baby strollers, banners/signs, beach balls, professional cameras, coolers or containers, explosives/firearms/weapons, folding chairs or stools, food and beverages, ice chests, laptops, laser pointers, noisemakers, pets, personal heaters, seats, umbrellas and women’s purses larger than 10” by 10.”
Other notable 2013 fan information features some travel alternate routes.
Because the Main Street bridge is out, southbound I-35 fans are urged to get off by or before exit 112, Tecumseh Road.
From there, fans can head either westbound to 36th Avenue NW or eastbound to 24th Avenue NW and travel in south from there.
Exit 113, Highway 77, is another option for southbound traffic, and that turns into Flood Avenue as it continues into Norman.
Sooner Road/12th Avenue NE, Sunnylane/Porter and Western Avenue/60th Avenue NW are all additional southbound routes.
Northbound traffic will also have to deal with some construction affecting traffic flow to games.
The South Canadian River Bridge is undergoing a major widening project, and that will cause congestion and delays, meaning fans should allot extra time.
“I don’t know if you guys have seen it, but it goes down to two lanes and not even shoulders,” Roberts said. “So, if you have anything happen, a little rear-end accident or anything, it stops traffic completely. And it’s difficult to even get vehicles in there to get it taken care of, so we’re working with the City of Norman. We’ve had numerous meetings with them and we’re really, really trying to partner with them and them getting the word out any way possible, as well as us, as well as ODOT [Oklahoma Department of Transportation], everybody, just trying to get the word out.”
The best advice, of course, is to know the aforementioned appropriate routes and, as previously mentioned, leave early in order to make the gameday experience as stress free as possible.
“One of the things that we’ve talked about is have a game plan,” said assistant athletic director of communications Pete Moris. “Much like we’ll have a game plan for the football team, have a plan what’s the best route for you and plan it out ahead of time, give yourself plenty of extra time.”
OU opens the season a week from tonight at 6 p.m. against Louisiana-Monroe at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and these policies and routing adjustments will be in affect all year.