KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals say they plan to extend the protective netting at the K to keep fans safe.
The news comes just one day after a young girl was hit by a line-drive foul ball during the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Tigers.
But Toby Cook, spokesman for the Royals, said these plans have been in the works long before the girl was hit.
Earlier this summer, the team commissioned a study on how to best extend their netting as more fans have been injured in MLB stadiums across the country.
Cook said the changes will take time because it means engineering and installation work — but some changes could happen before the end of the season.
“There is no question we’re going to extend the nettings at Kauffman Stadium,” Cook said. “It remains to be seen if it will happen before the season ends or if this is an offseason project. It’s not as simple as slapping up more netting from where it is now down to the foul pole.”
The Royals join several MLB teams who have recently announced they plan to extend their netting. How far the Royals’ netting is extended hasn’t been determined though.
The team’s current netting extends to the end of the dugouts, coming down at an angle, a league-wide change in 2018.
This month, the Chicago White Sox began installing netting all the way to the foul poles of their field. The Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles have also announced they’ll extend their netting down to the foul poles.
The Texas Rangers’ new stadium will have netting beyond the dugouts when it’s finished, and the Los Angeles Dodgers announced they’ll be extending their netting as well.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently said extending netting beyond the dugouts — or not extending it — will be up to each individual team for now.
“We recognized early in this process that it was very difficult to set an individual rule, one rule that applied to 30 different ballparks given their structural differences, and instead we have opted to work with the individual clubs over a period of time to extend netting,” Manfred said.
He went on to say he believes safety netting will improve during the offseason.
As for the little girl hit in Sunday’s game, Cook said she was taken to a local hospital where she stayed overnight for observation. She’s been recovering and is expected to be released sometime Monday.
Cook said the team has been in contact with the girl’s family. Several Royals players — and the Tigers player who hit the ball — signed the baseball she was hit with after the game, and the team made sure get got it, too.