Speaking of ever-shifting facility standards: new MiLB netting standards will require every ballpark to feature netting from foul pole to foul pole by the 2025 season, as part of MLB’s overhaul of MiLB ballparks.
The St. Pete MiLB regime had discussed new netting standards as part of a larger pro-baseball discussion on safer ballpark standards and the installation of extended netting in MLB and spring-training venues. But at the end of the day the decision was left to individual MiLB teams–which is kinda what happened on the MLB and spring-training levels as well, in a practical sense. Despite MLB wishes, not every MLB ballpark and spring-training venue features extended netting.
After an announcement today, MiLB teams will add another requirement to the new facility specs, set to kick in for the 2025 season. The announcement came from MiLB overlord Dan Halem and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). According to an MLB press release, the new netting standards were approved by the MLB PDL Executive Board, made up of four MiLB reps, four MLB reps and one neutral member. The elements of the new standard:
- MiLB teams are required to install netting from foul pole to foul pole unless the configuration of the ballpark makes such coverage unnecessary.
- The height requirement for the netting from behind home plate to the end of each dugout will be standardized across the system.
- MiLB teams are to work with their respective facilities to complete installation as soon as practicable but in no event later than 2025 Opening Day.
- Teams will be subject to discipline for non-compliance, including significant fines.
“We thank Senator Durbin for his steadfast leadership on this important issue and for his shared commitment towards enhancing fan safety across the PDL system, which has been a goal since the new organizational structure launched in 2021,” said Dan Halem, Deputy Commissioner, Major League Baseball, via press release. “Minor League Baseball is an exciting option for families to spend time together and experience professional baseball in an up close and personal way. By taking this action, our PDL Clubs have underscored their commitment to ensuring the safety of fans remains a top priority.”
“Extending protective netting well beyond the end of each dugout will make the ballpark a safer place for families, kids, and fans to enjoy a game. I want to thank MLB and Minor League Clubs for their efforts on this issue and for heeding my concerns for fan safety,” said Durbin via press release.
As noted: in and of themselves the new netting standards are not a bad idea. But when you add them to the facility specs already posing a financial and physical challenge to MiLB teams before the 2025 deadline, they represent a huge challenge to owners already facing significant spending on the ballpark side. And it’s a telling detail that the MLB press release referred more to PDL Clubs instead of MiLB teams–One Baseball really is beginning to mean One MLB.
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