The San Diego Padres have taken a proactive step after several incidents of fans being struck by baseballs and bats swept the majors last year and are extending the protective netting at Petco Park for the 2018 season and beyond.
The call for extended netting around the first and third base lines grew louder after an unfortunate incident last year saw a young fan get struck in the head with a 105 MPH foul tip off of Todd Frazier’s bat during a Yankees-Twins contest in New York. The Padres weren’t immune to stray items flying into the stands either; you may recall Hector Sanchez’s bat striking a woman in the stands almost a year ago.
“The security and well-being of our fans is our number one priority at Petco Park. We feel the new netting design drastically improves the safety of our patrons, while the state-of-the-art materials will have a minimal effect on the fan experience as it pertains to the view of the field and sightlines of our ballpark.”
The new netting is described as 24 feet high and will extend over both dugouts as far as section 116 on the third base side and section 115 on the first base side. The netting will also taper down as it gets closer to the foul poles.
While some fans have complained of obstructed sightlines due to the extended netting, the argument for fan safety has long been a bigger and louder concern for baseball. Given the family atmosphere of the game it was long overdue for teams to offer more safety for their paying customers especially with players becoming stronger and baseballs flying faster than ever. The advances in netting technology should also render “the view” complaint moot.
Fans both young and old visiting Petco Park this season will get to enjoy a safer product from the field seats and can worry less about stray bats and balls flying into the crowd. You might have a harder time snagging a free souvenir, though.