Detroit Red Wings have clear-bag policy at Joe Louis Arena

Detroit Red Wings fans heading to the team's home opener tonight at Joe Louis Arena should know the team has implemented a clear bag policy for all home games.
Al Sobotka, building operations manager for Olympia Entertainment, swirls an octopus tossed to the ice during the third period of an NHL game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators in Detroit, two years ago. (Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press)

It's become more difficult to smuggle an octopus into Detroit Red Wings games at Joe Louis Arena.

Red Wings fans heading to the team's home opener tonight at Joe Louis Arena should know the team has implemented a clear bag policy for all home games.

Fans who have non-compliant bags will be asked to return their bags to their cars.

That's tough to do for fans taking the tunnel bus from Windsor, so the team wants to reiterate its point to Canadians planning to head to any game this year that only see-through bags will be permitted in the arena.

Fans will only be able to carry the following style and size bag, package or container into Joe:

  • Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 30.5 cm x 15.25 cm x 30.5 cm (12" x 6" x 12").
  • A 3.75 L (one U.S. gallon) clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar style).
  • Small clutch bags not exceeding 23 cm x 15.25 cm (9" x 6") - approximately the size of a hand, with or without or strap - can be taken into The Joe while inside one of the clear plastic bag options above.

The gallery below illustrates what can be taken into the games this year:

      1 of 0

      How will fans get an octopus into the arena?

      The policy means fans who want to keep with the tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice after key Red Wings goals during the regular season or playoffs will have to get creative.

      The octopus first made its appearance on April 15, 1952, during the Red Wings' Stanley Cup playoff run.

      Two Detroit brothers, Pete and Jerry Cusimano, storeowner's in Detroit's Eastern Market, threw the eight-legged cephalopod on the ice at Olympia Stadium.

      Each tentacle of the octopus was symbolic of a win in the playoffs. Back then, the NHL boasted only six teams, and eight wins (two best-of-seven series) were needed to win the Stanley Cup.

      The team says the new clear-bag policy has nothing to do with octopuses, specifically, but it is designed to shorten lines by speeding the security screening process for fans as they enter Joe Louis Arena, while also providing an increased sense of safety and supporting the Department of Homeland Security's "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign.

      Prohibited items include, but are not limited to purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, seat cushions, luggage of any size, computer bags, camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size. An exception will be made for medically necessary items and diaper bags after proper inspection at a designated door.

      The new policy in Detroit is the same as the one the NFL implemented league-wide in 2013.

      Windsor tunnel bus ridership expected to triple  

      "When the Red Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs it's always a big draw," said Pat Delmore, Transit Windsor's executive director. "With it being the season opener, with Toronto in town, we're preparing for a busy night ahead of us." 

      About 300 people use the tunnel bus for a regular Red Wings home game. Transit Windsor expects between 1,000 and 1,500 riders on Friday.

      "We've been informing our riders about the [clear-bag] policy so they don't have any surprises when they get across [the border] and we'll be doing the same tonight," Delmore said. "We'll be reminding them the clear-bag policy is in force and will be for the entire season." 

      Transit Windsor doesn't have any lockers or space for fans who bring a bag that doesn't fit the Red Wings' new policy, so Delmore is reminding fans to leave their bags at home or in their car. 

      For fans hoping to take the tunnel bus across, Transit Windsor notes on its website that there will be at least two buses an hour starting at 5 p.m. 

      The tunnel bus starts at the bus station on Chatham Street West and will drop off and pick up fans at the Cobo Conference Centre next to the Joe Louis Arena.


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