KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Royals are installing additional netting at Kauffman Stadium that extends toward the outfield end of each team’s dugout to improve the safety for fans sitting along the foul lines.
The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball recommended teams look at changes back in December, expanding netting 70 feet down the line. The recommendation came after numerous injuries, including a 6-year-old child who was struck by a foul ball off Salvador Perez’s bat in the playoffs in Houston.
“My mom’s got hit by a foul ball before too, luckily it was only her leg,” Royals fan Dominic Inzerillo said.
Wednesday, the Royals unveiled designs for new netting that go even farther down the line than the MLB recommendations.
“It’s a no-brainer obviously that we’ve had netting for years behind home plate, but when we are extending it out, we made the decision for the safety of our fans to keep it going,” Royals V.P. Community Affairs and Publicity Toby Cook said.
Construction of the new netting at the stadium is already underway. The changes come after a majority of the seats that will now behind the nets have already been purchased.
“The initial reaction from our season ticket members has been positive," Cook said. "We’ve had a few people that have called and their main concerns are they don’t know what their line of sight is going to look like.”
Cook admits it may also change some levels of fan interaction with the players, who would toss balls into the crowd. But with more and more fans looking at phones, and not paying attention to every pitch, it was a danger they say they couldn’t ignore any longer.
“I think it might take a couple of times for people to get used to it, but I think it’s a good thing,” Royals fan Mary Vanausdall said as she waited to pose with the Royals World Series Trophy at an event Wednesday night.
“There’s plenty of other seats in the stadium where you can not be obstructed by the net, I think it’s a great step for the safety of the fans,” fan Derrick Cline said.
But with the Royals being such a hot ticket these days, there’s not necessarily many open seats in the lower deck not behind the nets.
The Royals say they are taking contact information from any ticket holder not happy with the changes, and will get back to them before the season if there might be a place to move them. Fans are advised to email the Royals at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Royals play their home opener against the New York Mets on April 3.