Last month the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a two-phase process of extending the protective netting at Dodger Stadium, which now runs from both dugouts to the elbow bend in front of the baseline seats on field level.
The first step was to increase the height of the netting, as it now is 33 feet and one of the tallest nettings across Major League Baseball. The Dodgers arrived at their decision to add onto the netting after receiving feedback from fans and players alike.
“We took a lot of time, and we think we’ve come up with a solution that balances the desire for enhanced safety while still affording people the great comfort and vibe of coming to a Dodger game,” president and CEO Stan Kasten recently said.
“We looked at many different alternatives. We didn’t want to wait until next year — a lot of teams have decided to do that — we wanted to do this as quickly as we could. Once we got data from the first half of the year, we were able to make some quick decisions about what would work now.”
While the Dodgers are confident in their new netting, its effectiveness and acceptance by fans will regularly be evaluated. “We will continue to study this going forward, but we think now we have an unprecedented level of safety here,” Kasten said.
“Now, while most fans are happy with the enhanced level of safety and security, there are some fans who aren’t going to like having any netting at all. The history, both at Dodger Stadium and every other city, is those people adjust really, really quickly.
“If they don’t, we’ll certainly deal with each separate customer. And as I’ve said, we’ll keep looking at the problem. If we need to make adjustments along the way, we will. But for right now we’ve come up with something that enhances the safety at the ballpark but still gives you great evening out there.”
The Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals are among other teams that committed to extending protective netting all the way down or close to the foul poles at their respective home stadiums.
The Dodgers first extended the screen behind home plate at Dodger Stadium in accordance with recommendations from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred before the 2016 season. They then stretched it to the ends of each dugout, both at Dodger Stadium and Camelback Ranch, in February 2018.
Cody Bellinger and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts were among the many notable figures in the organization who voiced their support in extending the netting at Dodger Stadium.
Bellinger was visibly shaken after a line drive off his bet went into the stands and struck a fan in the head earlier this year. She was transported to a local hospital out of precaution before being released.
“I would assume that would be a smart decision (to extend the netting),” Bellinger said at the time. “Just to protect those people in the front row who don’t have enough reaction time. I mean, I’m over at first base and have to be ready. They’re 10 feet over from me. That’s a scary situation.”
The old netting from Dodger Stadium was donated to the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and will be used to help refurbish Jackie Robinson Stadium.