Penn State

Penn State approves student-made bags for sporting events

Imagine this scenario: A Penn State fan strolls up to Gate A at Beaver Stadium, diaper bag over her shoulder. In it, there are diapers, diaper cream and a spare set of clothes for her toddler son.

But, there’s a hitch. She can’t take the diaper bag into the stadium for the game, because a new policy bans bags at all stadiums and arenas, and the fan doesn’t have enough pockets to haul everything.

She’ll have to trek back to her parking spot and drop off the gear in her car or just give it up, or maybe she’ll be handed a clear, plastic bag that’s OK to be carried into the stadium.

That’s one of the scenarios a group of Penn State student-entrepreneurs are predicting will happen this weekend, as fans unaware of the bag policy will swarm around Beaver Stadium. In the hope of capitalizing on it, they’ve developed a small bag that’s approved to take into the stadium, and they’re optimistic about marketing their invention far beyond State College.

The invention is called My Event Bag and its creators are recent grads Taylor Turrisi and George Paganos and seniors Chris Marthers and Susie Clark. They worked on it as interns for Surge Business Development, an incubator in State College that also funded the project.

In the past few weeks, the students have gone from idea to prototype to product in hand. And they’ve gone through a “baptism by fire” of sorts making cold calls to find buyers or partners.

“I don’t think any of us thought we were bag people, but it’s been an awesome experience so far, and we hope to take it further,” said Turrisi, who is from State College.

Penn State came up with the bag restrictions after the Boston Marathon bombings and implemented them starting with the Blue-White spring game in April. Penn State has signs all over campus alerting people of the changes.

The NFL also adopted a no-bag policy.

Marthers, a senior from Unionville in Chester County, said the idea for the bag came after reading about NFL fans’ reactions during its preseason games.

The bag has a simple design: it’s made from plastic vinyl, and its size, 8.5 by 11 inches, is the same as a sheet of paper.

The pouch for storing stuff is a gallon, which meets the one-gallon limit set by Penn State athletics. There’s a flap to cover the pouch, and the flap has a pocket that’ll fit a piece of paper to shield the pouch, so that personal items such as tampons or medication aren’t visible for 100,000 people to see.

The students have filed for a patent on the privacy shield, they said.

The back of the bag has drawstrings, so it can be worn over the shoulders, and conveniently hands-free, Paganos said.

The students had 5,000 bags produced, and they got Old State Clothing Co. in downtown State College to sell an allotment of them. The Best Western hotel bought some, too, to provide for guests. And Penn State will hand out some to fans on Saturday, too.

Spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the university’s corporate foundation office ordered 100 bags.

Marthers and Clark are students in Penn State’s Smeal College of Business. Turrisi and Paganos graduated in May and work full-time at Surge.