The Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins are the latest Major League Baseball teams to announce plans to expand safety netting at their ballparks for the 2018 season.
The Indians will extend the current vertical netting behind home plate down the foul lines at Progressive Field to the ends of the dugouts in an effort to better protect fans from hard-hit foul balls and bats flying into the stands. Also, the canopy nets will be stretched slightly farther down the third-base line.
The Twins will raise the height of their existing protective netting above the dugouts from 7 feet to about 9 feet. They’ll also extend the netting beyond the dugouts down both foul lines along the entire Dugout Box seating area, covering one more section along the first-base line and two more sections along the third-base line. Lower-level seats at Target Field are closer to home plate than in any other MLB venue.
Both the Indians and Twins, in their separate announcements on Wednesday, said they’d use the latest available technology to minimize the obstruction of views of the playing field. The Twins described their netting as having thin strands, a knotless intersection and a combination of green hues to allow for better blending with the grass.
At least six other MLB teams have expanded safety netting in the last three months, since a scary incident in which a young girl at Yankee Stadium was hit in the face by a foul ball. The Boston Red Sox notified season ticket holders last month that the screens at Fenway Park will be extended, but the team is still finalizing its plans.
Many teams, including the Twins and Red Sox, already extended their netting prior to the 2016 season based on a recommendation from the commissioner’s office that all fans within 70 feet of home plate be protected.
(AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.)
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