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Pittsburgh Pirates to Extend LECOM Park Netting

McKechnie Field

Leading up to spring training 2018, the Pittsburgh Pirates will extend the protective netting at Bradenton’s LECOM Park

Over the last several months–particularly in the period since a young girl was severely struck by a foul at Yankee Stadium in September–several Major League Baseball teams have announced plans to extend their protective netting in 2018. While these initiatives will be carried out at several regular-season MLB ballparks, it will also be noticed at spring training facilities.

The Pirates are moving forward with plans to expand the protective netting at LECOM Park, their spring training home. The netting will be extended to the far ends of both dugouts, and the team is looking to complete the project in time for the beginning of its spring training slate. More from the Bradenton Herald:

The Pittsburgh Pirates will spend about $100,000 out of a requested $200,000 LECOM Park improvement package paid for out of a fund to which the city contributes about $140,000 per year. The fund is part of a lease renewal negotiation that took place several years ago. The city turned maintenance of LECOM over to the Pirates in exchange for the capital improvement fund.

Many of the major league stadiums have already made the move to extend the home plate safety netting to beyond the dugouts on both the first and third base lines where many line drive foul balls tend to travel at the highest speeds directly toward fans. MLB has included in their mandate that its teams do the same for its spring training facilities.

Economic Development Director Carl Callahan said the Pirates are still trying to figure out the infrastructure to make that happen before spring training begins Feb. 23. The Pirates have their home opener against the Yankees on Feb. 24. While the money belongs to the Pirates, a notification of expenditures comes to the city.

Through 2017 10 teams had extended netting to the far ends of the dugouts, and since the end of the season several teams (Detroit TigersChicago CubsCincinnati RedsSan Diego PadresBaltimore OriolesColorado RockiesSeattle MarinersNew York Yankees, and Milwaukee Brewers) announced plans to extend netting. In addition to extending the netting at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees will provide more protective netting at George M. Steinbrenner Field, their spring training home in Tampa.

LECOM Park is also the regular-season home of the Bradenton Marauders (High A; Florida State League).

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