Bridgestone Arena Bag Policy: Be Prepared

Photo courtesy of Paul Nicholson via Flickr

Paul Nicholson is a longtime Nashville Predators fan, known best to Smashville's social media crowd as the guy behind the @Predfans Twitter account, and he recently became a moderator at the Predators' reddit page. Like myself and many others out there, Paul brings his young kids to Bridgestone Arena, and his recent brush with arena security is a tale every parent of infants & toddlers should read. - Dirk

For my family, Preds games are truly a family affair. We've been coming to games with both of my boys since they've been around 6 months old. For reasons which will be obvious to any parents, our favorite seats in the arena are on the back row of any given section. This gives us two main advantages: 1) any of us can stand up any time we want and 2) we have a shelf behind us to store all of the bags and stuff that comes with any infants and toddlers. Those bags are of course critical, filled with changes of clothes, emergency kid-friendly snacks, bottles, and most importantly: diapers.

So you can imagine our shock when, after years of coming in to games and having security casually check our diaper bags and waive us through, security at the Preds game on October 26th told us we couldn't come in with our bag.

That's right. My family of four was left stunned and being told we couldn't come in to the game with everything we would need to enable us to stay for anything like the entire game. Cutting through the long form of the story which includes my running back to the car twice, jumping on twitter and ranting, giving team COO Sean Henry an earful as I entered the arena, getting various pieces of misinformation from multiple Preds staffers including those in Guest Services, I finally had a nice long chat with Nat Harden and his staff, who came up to the 300 level to clear things up.

Diaper Bags Are Supposed to Be OK

So here's what they said: The policy (which I still can't find written anywhere) is that fans are no longer allowed to bring in large bags. Backpacks, messenger bags,large camera bags, satchels, or whatever else you might have are now no-go. Small purses are fine. And, most importantly, diaper bags are fine. This policy is actually a league-wide policy and one that was technically put in place and has (I am told, theoretically) been being implemented since the end of last year.

The problem we ran into was the form our diaper bag took and misinformation on the part of the security folks: we use a school-style backpack and they thought that wasn't allowed, regardless of contents. They were wrong. I can confirm, according to Nat Harden and multiple front office staff with the Preds, if it is being used as a diaper bag for kids, it's ok. Doesn't matter the exact form. One strap or two. Pink or cammo. I was told if the security teams give you any problems about a bag you're using as a diaper bag for small kids you have with you, then ask them to speak to management. They'll clear it up.

Kid-Friendly Food Options Are Growing

On the topic of coming to games with kids (with large bags...which can hold many things...), I wanted to take a moment to praise the Preds for offering some greatly improved food options for those who don't want to pump their offspring full of grease, nitrates, and sugar for the night and want to be able to obey the "no outside food" rules. While the unsalted pretzels and water have been a mainstay of our kids' snacks at games, the Preds have added fresh fruit - both whole and pre-sliced - along with juice at concession stands on the main concourse. We've availed ourselves of the options a few times and plan on doing so regularly going forward. Thank you, Preds!

So:

  • Normal sized purses = ok
  • Backpacks = not so much
  • Diaper bags = ok
  • Large satchels full of ice and catfish = not ok

Hmm... I think I see a problem here...

Thanks to Paul for sharing his story. I contacted the Preds and was informed that soon they will send an email on the morning of each game to all fans attending that night, with all sorts of game-related info which will include any policy changes like this.

Of course, it seems like a big presumption that they can email all fans attending a given game ahead of time, that those fans will actually open the email, and read through it closely enough to pick up issues like this. But that's why I asked Paul to share his story here - to help get the word out to families with babies & toddlers who plan on going to a game at Bridgestone Arena. So share this with your friends and neighbors, and let's try to avoid situations like this in the future. - Dirk

The photo at top is courtesy of Paul Nicholson on Flickr.

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