PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Some University of Oregon fans say it's getting crowded in the bleachers. The problem: Jumbo seat cushions.
So the school proposes to limit cushions to 17 inches wide. University spokeswoman Julie Brown says there have been "a few complaints" about extra-wide cushions taking up too much space at venues with bench-style seating, such as Autzen Stadium and Hayward Field. The benches include seat numbers, but no lines to mark just how much room each spectator gets.
Besides ensuring comfort for spectators squeezed between neighbors with cushions, the university wants to maintain the allocated stadium seating capacity. The presence of large cushions has yet to curtail capacity, but Brown said the school wants to get ahead of the issue as manufacturers expand their menu of cushions and portable seats with larger options.
"It's something that has been happening with a little bit of an increased frequency," Brown said. Fans bring cushions and portable seats to games to provide comfort for their backs and bottoms, and — especially in Oregon — to avoid wet benches on rainy days. The proposal, in addition to the width requirement, would limit seats to no more than 10 inches deep, with a seat back height that does not exceed 19 inches.
The plan calls for boxes at the gates, like those at airports for carry-on luggage, to determine whether cushions make it into the game or track meet. A public hearing is scheduled for July 17 on the Eugene campus. If approved, the rules would be in place for the upcoming football season.
Similar rules are in place at other college stadiums and arenas. For example, fans entering Boone Pickens Stadium at Oklahoma State University are limited to cushions no wider than 16 inches. The University of Mississippi prohibits "any portable seat that impedes on the comfort and enjoyment of a fan in an adjacent seat."
Brown said Oregon settled on 17 inches because "it's a relatively standard size." The National Football League announced last week it is banning fans from carrying seat cushions into its 32 stadiums. The NFL said it was a security decision because cushions can be used to conceal explosive devices.