Pittsburgh company gets NFL approval to make clear plastic bags for stadiums
And the ability to rush to meet the demand for clear plastic bags embossed with team logos helped a Pittsburgh company land National Football League approval to produce bags that fans can use to carry gear into stadiums and pass quick security inspection.
The league this season began banning bags larger than a person hand, including medium size purses, camera bags, computer bags, backpacks and fanny packs. Fans can bring seat cushions if they do not have a zipper or a seat back, but coolers and beverage containers are not permitted.
“We had 70 days notice about the new policy, which is a very tight time frame for designing the bags, getting them approved by the NFL and having them produced, so it was a definite challenge,” said Rob Brandegee, owner of Little Earth Productions in the South Side.
The company is one of three NFL approved manufacturers of such bags.
Brandegee said quick work by in house designers helped Little Earth make 75,000 Steelers logo bags available for sale a week before Sunday pre season opener.
Four styles of bags up to 12 inch es wide and deep and 6 inches in diameter range in price from $7.99 to $19.99. The Steelers open the regular season at home against the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 8.
“As soon as the news broke about the change in rules for bringing bags into the stadium, customers started asking for them,” said Albert Elovitz, owner of Alberts Gifts on Penn Avenue in the Strip District. “We won be getting them in for a few weeks, but I expect they will be big sellers.”
Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said the team tried to avert problems by informing season ticketholders about the rule change and posting a video on its website. Before Sunday game, which drew about 52,000 people, roving “ambassadors” circulated Downtown and in parking lots near the stadium to hand out free bags. They do so during the first several games, he said.
Though fans can get into Heinz Field by stuffing gear into a one gallon freezer bag, the word “Ziploc” emblazed on the side won fly with many members of Steelers Nation, Brandegee said.
“I don think people in Pittsburgh fully understand how hardcore the fans really are,” Brandegee said. “We sell merchandise in every major market in the country, but it nothing like in Pittsburgh. We understood immediately that if fans here were going to have to use a clear bag, it would have to represent the Black and Gold.”
The company, founded in 1993 by Brandegee and Ava DeMarco, its president, designs and manufactures licensed products for women sports fans. It handles distribution for Steelers merchandise sold at the stadium and online including the iconic Terrible Towel and supplies logo merchandise for 200 professional and college sports teams.
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