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How the STAPLES Center bag policy is a barrier for accessibility

The new bag policy caused an uproar. Here’s why.

With STAPLES Center opening its doors to fans again, the venue decided to put a few new policies in place for their guests’ safety, one of which was banning all bags. They announced the change to their bag policy, among other changes, on Apr. 13, and it sparked an uproar.

Usually, bag policy changes, while annoying, are not as controversial as this. But also, most bag policy changes don’t completely take away the option of bags and assume that all necessary items you need can fit in your pocket.

Here’s the full announcement from STAPLES Center banning bags and purses, including clutches, totes, and backpacks.

This policy change left many wondering who exactly was in the room when they greenlighted this decision. What made them think this was a good idea?

The move to restrict all bags in STAPLES Center ostracized many people women, parents, commuters, and people with medical conditions from enjoying the various events that take place at STAPLES. Here are just a few groups of people who were marginalized by their original policy.


When I read the policy, I was shocked. Was there a woman present in the room when this decision was made? By the looks of it, no.

From cards to IDs, keys, chapsticks, cell phones, and feminine products, those who changed the policy did not realize that all of these items cannot comfortably be carried without a purse or bag. This is because women’s clothing very often doesn’t include pockets. I can barely fit my phone in my jeans; I barely own pants that have pockets, so make it make sense, STAPLES.

Parents with young children

A night at the arena is a fun outing for many young children and a bonding experience for families. I practically grew up going to many sporting events with my family from the times I could only crawl until now. Having a diaper bag was a necessity during those early days, and that flexibility allowed my family to create some of our fondest memories together. STAPLES Center originally ruled out the possibility of bringing in a diaper bag. Every family that needed one would need a medical exception.

People with medical conditions

Similar to those who need diaper bags, many people with medical conditions often need to travel with necessary items that are not pocket-sized. While STAPLES Center will allow people to seek out medical exemptions for this, making them jump through hoops simply because the arena’s policy does not deem their large necessary items as necessary is unacceptable.

People who take public transportation to events

It’s one thing to drive to STAPLES Center, park your car, and leave your “unnecessary” belongings there, but what about those who take the metro? Where are they supposed to put all of their belongings?

The updates to the policy

This original policy assumed privilege. It assumed that only the most able-bodied people can and will come to the events at STAPLES. It assumes that necessary items are only pocket-sized and that people will only carry essential items that fit in their pockets. It assumes that people wear outfits with pockets.

The assumptions in this policy were so exclusionary that many of us wonder who did STAPLES work with to put these into place. Was it a diverse group of people? Did they ask questions that would lead them to consider the general population, not just the most able-bodied population? From what it seems, the answer to all of these questions are no.

Since the original release of the new policy on April 13, STAPLES Center has come out with clarifications. The amendments are good and more inclusive, and hopefully this is a lesson to show that diversity in decision making is not a suggestion, but a necessity.

Update: STAPLES Center later offered an update to their bag policy, allowing fans to enter the arena with wallets and small clutches.