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NFL purse rule still stopping some Bears fans at the gate

Bears fans are still getting flagged for penalties as the result of a 2013 National Football League rule change banning big purses and other bags that many don’t seem to be aware of.

After waiting in line at Soldier Field for the team’s first preseason game Aug. 13, against the Miami Dolphins, hundreds of fans were turned away because of the rule that bars bags bigger than the size of a hand from being brought into stadiums for NFL games.

The fans — most of them women — were asked to walk to a makeshift, open-air storage facility hundreds of yards away, next to the Lake Shore Drive overpass at 18th Street, where they had to pay $10 to store their oversize purses and fanny packs in lockers.

There weren’t enough lockers to hold all the bags. The rest were placed on the pavement inside a fence adjacent to the storage facility operated by a private contractor hired by the Bears.

Officials with the Chicago Park District, which oversees Soldier Field, said most season ticket-holders are aware of the NFL policy, prompted in part by the Boston Marathon backpack bombings that killed three people and injured 264 others on April 15, 2013.

But many of the people who show up at preseason games are borrowing tickets from season-ticket holders and are unfamiliar with the NFL security rules, according to Tim LeFevour, general manager of Soldier Field.

“We support their policy, and the Bears and the NFL are responsible for letting their fans know,” LeFevour said. “The basic message is: Women should not bring a purse larger than their hand — a clutch purse or small change purse. And anyone who desires to have a bag must adhere to the NFL policy of a ‘clear’ hand bag no larger than 12 by 12 by 6.”

The Bears’ next home preseason game is Sept. 3 against the Cleveland Browns.

This article has been updated to correct an attribution.