Umbrellas are among the items fans can’t bring to the Carolina Panthers’ 8 p.m. pre-season game against Chicago tonight, but forecasters said it might be wise to pack a poncho.
The National Weather Service is calling for a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms later today, and Bank of America Stadium officials said ponchos will be allowed through security.
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The stadium’s tightened safety measures, meant to speed up security lines and protect fans following April’s Boston Marathon Bombing, were announced earlier this week.
Now, only clutch-sized purses that measure 6.5 inches by 4.5 inches or smaller and transparent or vinyl bags – no bigger than 12 by 6 by 12 inches – will be allowed inside the stadium.
Seat covers may not have compartments, zippers, clasps or pockets that could conceal items.
Director of Security Lance Emory said they’ll be flexible about ponchos, but ask that they not be in bags, as security personnel have to make sure they’re not being used to conceal anything.
“Everyone should bring one and we’ll hope no one has to use them,” he said.
Officials say that while the restrictions are meant to help speed up security screenings, fans should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes earlier than normal.
Uptown street closures around the stadium will likely begin around 5 p.m., said Charlotte Department of Transportation special event coordinator David Christopher.
Portions of South Mint, Graham and Martin Luther King Boulevard will be closed to through traffic, with limited access to private parking lots, he said.
Those looking for public parking decks and lots can find a list online that includes the management company, contact information and expected rates of each lot or deck, Christopher said.
The Charlotte Area Transit System reminded fans they can park for free and ride the Lynx Blue Line light-rail into uptown, and CATS buses will be operating on their normal schedule
Officials also said the Panthers Tailgate Recycling program will be in place tonight and for the duration of the 2013-14 season. Center city parking lot operators will give yellow recycling bags to those coming in, and tailgaters can recycle bottles, cans and clean cardboard. The bags should be left on the curb for collection by city of Charlotte Solid Waste teams.
Since the program started in 2009, it’s recycled 116 tons of tailgate materials, enough to fill three-quarters of the Panthers stadium, according to officials.