Every Coloradan knows that Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre can see extreme weather changes in a matter of hours. What starts as a mild, sunny day can rapidly evolve into pouring rain, and concert-goers never like to be caught unprepared. So when Red Rocks updated its bag policy for the 2023 season, restricting visitors to single-pocket bags no larger than thirteen inches wide, fifteen inches tall and eight inches deep, some venue regulars were unpleasantly surprised, to say the least.
Brian Kitts, Denver Arts & Venues marketing and communications director, says this change serves two purposes: to keep entrance lines moving quickly and to keep concert-goers safe. He explains that staff will no longer have to open and check multiple pockets on bags, and the one-pocket system reduces the chance of any banned items slipping through security. "I think part of the issue is that we were seeing fans coming in with giant backpacks that were taking up room and taking up to several minutes to check," Kitts notes.
He explains that this policy isn't new to Denver: One-pocket policies are already in place at Coors Field and Empower Field. Red Rocks also still allows visitors to bring food, empty water bottles, hydration backpacks such as Camelbaks, fanny packs, purses and soft, six-pack-sized coolers.
But local resident Ryan Keiffer, who has been attending Red Rocks concerts since the ’80s, says the new bag policy didn't shorten the entrance lines at all. Keiffer made the trek to Red Rocks for the first time since the bag policy update to see Billy Strings, and "even with this new policy, it was the longest line I've ever seen to get in, in all of the years, in the hundreds of shows I have been to," Keiffer says.
He suggests that if Red Rocks management wants to decrease the entrance line lengths, then it should hire more staff members instead of limiting what guests can bring to concerts. "One of the things that was great about [Red Rocks] is that they were quite understanding with their policies," Keiffer says. "You could bring food in, and you can still do some of those things, although I don't know how you could possibly do that with the new bag policy."
For the Billy Strings concert, Keiffer brought a bag he thought might work — it has one main pocket with a flap with a small pocket that goes over the top. "The person standing behind me was like, 'Dude, I don't think they're going to let you in with that bag,'" Keiffer recalls. "So I quickly changed it out and I used one of my clear NFL bags instead. I had to wear a bunch of stuff that I didn't want to be wearing unless I had to just to be able to get in."
Keiffer has been to several NFL games and says that while the bag policy at Empower Field is strict, limiting guests to clear totes or gallon zip-lock bags and small purses, he believes the stadium's policy makes sense. "You're not going to need seasons' worth of clothes at a game at Mile High, and you can seek cover if you get caught in a downpour," he says. "So a small-bag policy at a place like an NFL stadium is not as restrictive as a small-bag policy at a place like Red Rocks."
Meanwhile, Kitts notes that "Coloradans are pretty adept at layering, and we've got thousands of people there every night who make it into the venue and are able to stay warm or cool without bringing in giant bags full of clothes."
See more about Red Rocks' bag policy here.