WASHINGTON — D.C. United is offering free passes to fans stuck in long admission lines Saturday after confusion arose over the bag policy at Audi Field.
The team got heat from fans upset or caught by surprise by the policy, which only allows small handbags and clear plastic bags into the stadium. Some abandoned their non-compliant containers in trees, and others missed part of the game, including Wayne Rooney’s first Major League Soccer goal, as they decided what to do.
In an interview with WTOP, team spokesman Chris Hull said it will offer fans that experienced trouble with its bag policy an opportunity to see another game free.
“My message to those fans that were affected, it was a small number, but too many. We would like them to get in touch this week and we’d like them to come back as our guest with our compliments with a field seat for a forthcoming game,” he said.
The policy limits personal belongings for fans to a clutch bag or small purse no larger than 6.5×4.5 inches, one gallon freezer bag and one clear plastic bag no larger than 12x6x12 inches.
Those who carried bags that did not meet the criteria say they were directed toward waiting locker rental units that cost $20. Fans could also buy clear plastic bags and transfer their items into them.
Several people on social media said the stadium ran out of lockers.
Audi Field has hosted three home games after opening its doors for the first time on July 14. The young stadium has already been the site of controversy, including a picket from supporter groups during its first game.
The bag policy has been in place since March, Hull said. It is clearly stated on the team’s website, app and the tickets themselves. After Saturday’s game, the club realized it needs to do more to make sure that first-time fans aren’t left outside the gates.
“Obviously some fans that have tickets are not reading that policy,” Hull said. “We need to do more to make sure that they do.”
Hull said that D.C. United season ticket holders are aware of the policy, but the team will work to inform those who haven’t been to a game. The team plans to produce and distribute a video explaining its clear bag policy In the “very near future.”
Some fans outside the stadium and on social media criticized the bag policy as being “sexist” because women are the ones most likely to be impacted by the rules.
Hull responded to those statements saying that the policy is in place for all fans.
“The policy is in place for men, women and children, and we saw those observations and we take them seriously,” Hull said. “Security is of paramount importance to D.C. United. But let’s get those fans back. We’re sorry, we’re going to make it better.”
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