Search wands and bag searches: New security measures at Talen Energy Stadium

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union and MLS have announced new security standards for entrance into Talen Energy Stadium and venues throughout the league intended “”to correspond with security measures taken by the other professional sports leagues in North America.”

The announcement covers “a new minimum standard Bag Policy and guest screening measures.”

Beginning with this weekend’s game against New York City FC on Saturday, April 23, “all guests at Talen Energy Stadium will be fully screened upon entry. The screenings will be conducted via the use of a search wand.”

Additionally, under a new league-wide Bag Policy, visitors to Talen Energy Stadium and all MLS venues will prohibited from bringing the following items for entrance into a stadium:

  • Large purses
  • Coolers
  • Briefcases
  • Backpacks
  • Luggage of any kind
  • Computer bags
  • Camera bags
  • Any bag larger than 14’’x 14’’x 6’’

All bags will be subject to search before entry. “Special considerations will be made for guests with special medical needs and parents caring for infants.” UPDATE: A Union spokesperson confirmed on Thursday, and again on Friday morning, that the bags season ticket holders received as part of this year’s season ticket package will be allowed into the stadium.

The announcement notes, “These security standards will apply to all MLS, SUM, and USL games played at MLS venues, including but not limited to MLS League and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup games, friendly matches, and fan events.”

In an effort to minimize wait times for entrance, Talen Energy Stadium will now be open 90 minutes before kickoff. “Fans arriving early should enter through the Talen Energy Gate and are encouraged to do so to ensure the shortest wait time.”

Said Talen Energy Stadium General Manager Mike Scanlon, “We’ve always placed fan safety as the No. 1 priority at our facility. We support Major League Soccer’s decision and will have the necessary screening procedures in place for Saturday, and beyond, to ensure full compliance. We want to encourage all of our guests to arrive earlier than they normally would.”

The announcement notes, “The increased security policy was unanimously supported by the MLS Board of Governors and involved input from all 20 MLS clubs.”

MLS’ Senior VP of Security and Operations Ray Whitworth said, “The safety of our fans, players and staff is paramount. The updated security measures bring us in line with professional sports leagues around the United States and Canada while maintaining the unique sports experience that is MLS.”


  1. Why tailgate in the lot when you’ll have plenty of time waiting to get wanded?
    It’s actually a great plan for the concession department. These new “security” measures are really just trying to get people in the stadium earlier and paying for food/beer earlier. They see all the money lost in the parking lots where people can eat and drink economically. I commend the Union for waiting this long to do so.

    • It’s not the Union. It’s MLS setting the policy

    • This was my first thought, too. It certainly is not the purpose of the change, but it’s a very nice “side effect” for concession sales.

      • You can have a small bag but not a camera bag… hmmmm

      • Yeah, that one seems odd to me, frankly.

        To be clear, I’m referring only to the “gates now open 90 minutes before kickoff” part of the announcement when I say it’s a nice side-effect for concessions.

  2. Zizouisgod says:

    I don’t mind the additional security measures, but they really need to add more ticket turnstiles to get people in the stadium more quickly.

    • Jim Presti says:

      Additional security? Fine. Whatever, but then add some more turnstiles and have people wanded while waiting to scan tickets. Get the line moving

    • Exactly. And direct non-supporters section tickets to gates not labeled Supporters Gate.

      • We come in the supporter’s gate because it’s far and away the closest to our seats. And with my daughter currently contending with a knee injury (though not serious enough to warrant crutches or similar), damn right I’m going to pick the gate that requires her to hobble around the least amount of time.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        It’s the closest gate to my seats as well. If they added a couple of turnstiles to the exit/smoking area to the left of this gate, that would relieve the congestion at the Supporters Gate.

        And to be clear, I think that all STH are Supporters, maybe just not Sons of Ben members.

      • I don’t mean you guys. I mean people who aren’t seated close to it. Like the other side of the stadium.

    • Completely agree. It’s all about how they lay out the process. The Phillies, 76ers, and others put this level of security in last year and they don’t get all backed up.

  3. Even in the longest line I’ve ever been in at Talen, I’ve never waited more than a couple of minutes to get in. This is a non-issue unless you’re trying to get something you shouldn’t have into the facility.
    Moving along…

  4. Yay! security theater!
    This is really annoying because I often head up to games right after work taking the train. So I have my work clothes in my backpack that I can’t bring in anymore.
    This sucks actually.

    • i agree, this is a ridiculous thing. my annoyance isn’t pointed at the union or even mls. this is something that happens now at almost every event or situation that will have a lot of people passing through. a culture that demands and is satisfied by ineffective and wasteful security theater is disappointing

      • John Osborn says:

        Well said, sieve! and kyle. This’ll probably be the last year I go to games. I’ll just watch ’em on TV.

      • I just wish the Union weren’t so focused on the suburbs.

      • i’m definitely still going; i don’t usually bring a bag anyway. i just really hate being forced to participate in meaningless and inconvenient security theater that everyone knows doesn’t accomplish much

  5. wait, so are bags prohibited or just subjected to additional and more thorough searches?

    • Small bags (AKA Purses) are allowed but backpacks and such aren’t.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I wrote a response to the Union asking if the bags we received with our season ticket packages are allowed. We’re concerned with carrying blankets to bring in for weather like the first two home games. (My wife would probably stay home if she can’t bring in a bag with a blanket.) I’ll let you know when I receive a response.

      • I don’t have it around to measure it, but I believe that bag is smaller than 14x14x6, so it should be perfectly fine.

      • Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

        But isn’t it also a backpack and aren’t they specifically banned?

      • I thought the same thing and measured it last night…..13 x 17 if measuring at the bottom, 17 x 17 if measuring at the top.

      • Ha – of course the bag they gave out is too big…
        (yes, yes. I know. That’s what she said…)

      • Buccistick says:

        The Union’s own swag in violation of MLS policy, Andy? Ha ha ha — hilarious!
        Also, this casts a shadow on our ability to bike to the stadium, since our panniers measure 16″x12″x6″. The restriction against briefcases, backpacks, and the like make it sound like they no longer want to deal with anything of the purpose-built sort; but given their price tags, I hesitate to leave them hitched there unattended for 2 hours.
        Good thing we roll with string sacs 🙂

  6. Ok… if you’re a terrorist, are you going to bring a bomb into the stadium to detonate? No. You’re going to find the biggest congregation/mass of people you can. Where is that? Right outside the gate at the turnstiles? Just like the bombing at the airport in Belgium. So keeping more people in line longer makes us less safe. We need to figure out a better way to “thin the herd.”

    • They know it won’t actually accomplish anything. It’ll save them on insurance money and increase concession sales. They had to get all the MLS owners on board with it and money talks.

  7. The tin-foil hats on some of the Union faithful are extra conductive today.
    You guys have it easy. I am an Eagles STH and this is still more lax than an NFL game. For the Eagles, you can’t take _any_ bag in unless it’s see through. That goes for women’s purses too. And how many women have see through purses? At least the MLS rules don’t go that far.
    As far as wanding, you have to endure that when going to a game for any of the other major sports. MLS fans want MLS to mentioned in the same breath as the other Big Four sports. But when they get treated like the fans of those other sports, they are like, “waa waa waa, I’m going to take my ball and go home”.
    The guy who uses the backpack for work clothes is legitimately inconvenienced by this. But the rest of you who drive in to the game? Grow up.

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    I would just like to know if nickle bags or there component larger portion, dime bags are legal.

  9. 6 ABC has my business this week. i hope this is a non-issue but i’ll let week one of the inconvenience play out.

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