Bag policy at Audi Field leaves some DC United fans angry, waiting in line

WASHINGTON — Some fans attending the D.C. United game on Saturday spent some time in a long line waiting for lockers in which to store their bags, leading some to miss Wayne Rooney’s first Major League Soccer goal.

Many fans were upset or caught by surprise over the bag policy at Audi Field that went into effect in March 2018.

Bags allowed in the stadium include:

  • One clear, plastic bag no larger than 12x6x12 inches
  • One clear, gallon freezer bag (Ziploc or similar brand)
  • One clutch bag or small purse no larger than 6.5×4.5 inches (fits in the palm of a hand)

Those whose bags did not pass the criteria say they were directed toward waiting locker rental units charging $20. Clear plastic bags were also sold, for which people can transfer items from their bags. Their own bags would have to be discarded or left outside.

“This is a sexist policy because they’re discriminating against women,” said Bob, who was waiting with his wife outside of the stadium. “I’m out essentially $200 because I’m not going to let my wife go home alone. There’s no transparency. It wasn’t on the website when I bought the tickets, there’s no email that we got that said you should come with a clear bag or no bag and it’s total chaos.”

Laurie Ehrsam, who was at the game, observed that there were not enough lockers for everyone who needed one. She said that the locker rental company told her that it would take bags for free but it would be outside, unlocked in a fenced off area that is in the “vicinity of workers.” She left her handbag in a pile but ultimately went back to retrieve it, missing the game.

One person noted that the stadium’s bag policy did not match that of other stadiums in D.C.

FedEx Field has similar bag policies as Audi Field.

At Nationals Park, bags must not exceed 16x16x8 inches.

At Capital One Arena, only bags smaller than 14x14x6 inches are permitted.

Major League Soccer passed security measures in 2016 that included a leaguewide bag policy that gave each venue authority to make its own decisions regarding what measures will be used to reach MLS’ standard of security.

“I have literally a phone, a wallet, my sunglass case, a phone charger and a receipt from three weeks ago. That’s it. That’s all I have,” said one woman waiting for a locker during the game.

MLS policy prohibits: large purses, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, luggage of any kind, computer bags, camera bags and any bag larger than 14x14x6 inches.

“They won’t even give me a refund because I bought it through a third party vendor that didn’t state that I couldn’t bring a bag within a certain size,” said one attendee, who missed the game.

D.C. United said in an emailed statement that they are aware that there were a number of issues on Saturday involving the clear bag policy. A spokesman said that the club is reviewing feedback from fans and that they are looking at better ways to promote the policy going forward.

Several in attendance standing in line said that they were waiting for more lockers to arrive because the stadium ran out.

“If they’re not going to allow customers to bring things in then they should have enough lockers for the people who bought your tickets,” said one woman waiting in line.

WTOP’s Mike McMearty and Valerie Bonk contributed to this report.

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