Braves Will Extend Netting At SunTrust Park To Foul Poles
The Braves said that they will "extend the protective netting at SunTrust Park to the foul poles to better safeguard fans," with the project targeted for completion by the "end of September," according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The Braves "join 10 other MLB teams" that this summer announced plans to "extend the netting to or near the foul poles." The club said that the extension will "place nets in front of all lower-level seating sections from behind the plate to the foul poles." When SunTrust Park opened in '17, the Braves "increased the number of seats behind the protective netting" as a 33-foot-high screen was "installed from behind the plate to the far end of the dugouts, stopping at the camera wells adjacent to the dugouts" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/20).
BIGGER IN TEXAS: In Houston, David Barron notes the Astros' home game against the Tigers last night was the "first played in front of a newly installed protective netting" at Minute Maid Park that "extends 35 feet above field level, stretching more than 550 feet from foul line to foul line." In addition to extending nets further down each foul line, the team "replaced the existing 32-foot-high net behind home plate." The more than 18,000 square feet of netting was "installed over the last week while the Astros were on the road." The team "did not disclose the cost of the netting" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/20). ESPN’s Stefano Fusaro said there was a "general consensus that this needed to happen." It is "really hard to find anybody" in the Astros organization that was "against this" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 8/19).
A WIDER NET? The AP's Paul Newberry wrote MLB "should order all 30 teams to install the extra protection as soon as possible" because there is "no need to wait until next season if it can be done now." Newberry: "And while we’re at it, pass along the same edict to all minor league affiliates" (AP, 8/16). ESPN’s Nabil Karim noted despite more teams extending netting, “that still leaves about three-quarters of the league up in the air.” ESPN’s Michael Eaves said of some fans complaining that they will no longer catch foul balls, “Not everyone’s going to like it. They paid for those seats. They want souvenirs” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 8/19). Eventellect co-Founder Patrick Ryan tweeted, "I agree with MLB teams extending the protective netting all the way down the lines ... but they need to be able to be raised until the game actually starts ... otherwise engagement between fans and players (signing autographs and toss balls) is essentially dead" (TWITTER.com, 8/20).