Let's be perfectly clear: If you are among the thousands who will attend NCAA Final Four activities in Houston this weekend, your bag must be see-through.
The "clear bag" security policy will be in effect at all Final Four fan events, Doug Hall, president and CEO of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four Local Organizing Committee, said at a press conference Monday at Houston City Hall. That includes Fan Fest Friday through Sunday at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the March Madness Music Festival at Discovery Green Friday through Sunday, the Final Four Friday open practice at NRG Stadium and semi-final and final games at NRG Stadium on Saturday and Monday (April 4).
To help publicize the policy, 125,000 plastic totes emblazoned with the Final Four Houston 2016 logo will will be given away at information centers at Houston hotels and the GRB and along METRORail platforms. One official said the bags quickly became a collector's item last year in Indianapolis, where the clear bag policy was implemented for the first time at the Final Four.
"We've got a lot of these clear bags to hand out and encourage people to pack accordingly and to bring as little as possible to the venues or they will be turned away if they show up with their (regular) bags," Hall said, noting camera bags, diaper bags and larger purses will be prohibited. (Small clutches will be allowed in; see above graphic for details.)
Attendees can also use clear 1-gallon storage or freezer bags by manufacturers such as Ziploc or Glad that can be purchased at any supermarket. "Any clear bag will work," Hall told Culture Map.
With heightened security concerns following the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, the Houston Police Department will be out in full force, with uniformed officers visibly present and plain clothes officers who will mill among the big crowds. All events will be monitored from a security command center, acting Houston Police Department police chief Martha I. Montalvo said.
"We want to make sure Houston is a great event, but also a safe event," she said. "Enjoy yourself, be aware and stay safe."
Mayor Sylvester Turner joked that he had picked all four finalists that are coming to Houston, which if true would make him among the very few to do that, as Syracuse, which was seeded No. 10 in its region, busted most brackets. After the press conference, Turner admitted it was just a "little exaggeration." He did pick two of the four semi-finalists — Oklahoma and North Carolina — but he declined to predict who will win it all.
"It's been a great tournament so far and the enthusiasm has been high," he said. "It's been going down to the final seconds and I'm expecting no less when they come to Houston."