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More netting on tap for MLB ballparks next season

Major League Baseball logoMLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says more netting to protect fans from foul balls is on tap for the 2016 season, but specifics will be announced next year.

The reason for the delay: it will be difficult to create a one-size-fits-all policy for every MLB ballpark, as every one has different dimensions. And it doesn’t sound like the additional netting will be a mandate from the commissioner’s office, but rather a recommendation. It’s no secret Major League Baseball is struggling with the issue: while there’s are plenty of safety reasons to mandate more netting and the players union is now on record on being in favor of more netting, there’s a loud fan base arguing against more netting. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“A lot of things seem easy and are not always so easy,” Manfred said. “Fan safety is paramount for us. We want our fans to be safe at the ballpark, but we also have lots of fans who are very vocal about the fact that they don’t like to sit behind nets.

“The toughest issue for us is always when we have fans on both sides of the equation. If it’s a fan and, let’s say, revenue, we always try to err on the side of the fan. But if the fans want X on one side and we’re concerned about fans on the other side, that’s a more difficult balance.”

MLB and MiLB teams have avoided big liability on the issue by placing a warning on every tickets, and courts have upheld the principal that fans are responsible for paying attention to the game and avoiding foul balls. But there’s the danger of PR fallouts after fans are hurt in ballpark accidents; hence the new policies coming down the pike.

A final plan is expected in January.

RELATED STORIES: Lawsuit demands more netting at every MLB, MiLB ballpark; Will fan injury cause MLB/MiLB policy changes?

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