CLEVELAND— FOX8 got a first look at the extended safety netting inside Progressive Field Tuesday.
The Cleveland Indians announced they would extend the netting along the first and third baselines in December 2017.
The new netting goes from home base to sections 164 and 140 along each dugout.
“We want fans not only to come and enjoy themselves, but not have to worry about the safety of their own person, so it was an easy decision and one that was very important to us,” said Curtis Danburg, the Senior Director of Communications for the Cleveland Indians.
The call for increased netting came from MLB late last year after a toddler was hit and severely injured by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium. MLB says all team ball parks are now adding netting in various forms.
Danburg says the Indians have communicated with season ticket holders who will be impacted by the new netting.
Danburg explained that adding new netting also allowed them to change out the existing netting to a more high-tech version, which gives a better viewing experience.
“The newest technology offers more of a brownish tint to the netting, which makes it easier for fans to see right through,” he said.
No one knows the importance of the netting more than Dina Simpson. Simpson was hit by a foul ball at a minor league game in 2017 and lost her vision in her right eye and also had several broken bones.
“My four year old was right next to me when it happened, I’m so glad it hit me and not him,” Simpson said.
Simpson has had to change the way she lives now that she is blind in one eye. She has begun advocating for increased netting at ballparks.
“Everybody knows when you’re at a baseball game, balls are going to fly into the stands. It’s going to happen, but a lot of people don’t realize they are going to come at you like a speeding bullet,” she said, adding that the ball that hit her was likely going 100 mph.
Simpson says she is glad to hear the Indians are adding netting, but believes they should add even more.
“I think it’s a really good start. Some parks did go past the dugouts in major league,” she said.
One of those parks is Yankee Stadium, which is adding netting at various heights from home plate, along the dugouts and along the short walls down the foul line.
Despite the new and extended netting, there are still signs inside Progressive Field reminding fans to be aware and watch for flying objects like balls and broken bats.
When asked about extending the netting even further at Progressive Field, Danburg said the team is taking a step-by-step approach and will ultimately do what’s best for fans.
The Indians home opener is Friday, April 6th vs. the Kansas City Royals.