CLEVELAND — Fan safety has been a point of emphasis for baseball teams across the country in recent years because of the increasing number of fans, including several children, who have been injured by line drive foul balls.
The Akron RubberDucks are joining with teams at all levels of professional baseball, including their Major League Baseball affiliate in the Cleveland Indians, in extending netting to make for a safer fan experience. Starting with the 2020 season, the RubberDucks will extend the netting from foul pole to foul pole.
“Part of our mission in creating an atmosphere of affordable, family fun means that we need to keep everyone in our ballpark safe,” RubberDucks general manager Jim Pfander said in a release announcing the move.
“Extending the netting to each foul pole ensures that our fans can enjoy all the great things a RubberDucks game at Canal Park has to offer without having to worry about safety. I want to thank the City of Akron, and specifically Mayor Dan Horrigan, for their partnership and proactiveness in helping us keep our fans safe while attending games at Canal Park.”
Already extended to the far end of each of the dugouts in 2018, this year’s project will take the netting down each of the foul lines. The new netting structure will include retractable portions in Sections 20 and 6 for fans to interact with and get autographs from players.
The netting will reach a height of 37 feet behind home plate and slope toward the end of each dugout to a 33-foot height.
Because of the Ultra Cross Knotless Dyneema Ball Safety System Net’s unique construction, the extensions “will have minimal impact on viewing due to its thin material, green color and knotless construction.”
After opening the season on the road against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on April 9, the RubberDucks will play their home opener at Canal Park on Friday, April 17.
“We are pleased to support the Akron RubberDucks through an investment into extended netting at Canal Park,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “Owner Ken Babby and the entire leadership team at Canal Park offer an exceptional family-friendly experience for fans of all ages, and this investment will only enhance that.”