Breaking News — New Announcement from Major League Baseball Introduces New Park Requirements
Carolina Sports Concepts is on top of the new initiative to improve baseball netting, infrastructure, and safety! The new MiLB netting standards will require every ballpark to feature netting from foul pole to foul pole by the 2025 season.
On December 7th, Dan Halem, Deputy Commissioner of the Major League Baseball organization and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois announced new netting requirements for all Minor League Developmental Parks.
The initiative is focused on revising and expanding protective netting standards. The new requirements are an upgrade to the safety and protection of patrons and players at all Professional Development League baseball parks (which totals 120 MLB-affiliated parks).
This initiative was approved unanimously by an MLB board during their 2022 Winter meetings. Major League parks will be unaffected
Why Upgrade The Parks
According to one report, stray balls injured more than 800 people from 2012 to 2019. While the majority of those accidents happened at Major League games, it’s easy to see the need to protect children and park attendees at our Nation’s Minor League Parks.
The initial push for these revisions began in 2019, when Senator Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth, also of Illinois, wrote to the MLB with concerns related to incidents of fans being hit by foul balls. The two Senators have also recently made a push to gather more data related to fan injuries to better understand the importance of backstop netting and baseball park netting. Whatever the case, the MLB and congress were in agreement that the new improved protective netting standards would create park environments where fans and players could be safe to focus on the sport they love without fear of injury.
Senator Durbin had this to say after the news on December 7th, “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.”
MLB Deputy Commissioner, Dan Halem, echoed similar sentiments, “With this action, our PDL clubs have demonstrated their commitment to continuing to support fan safety as a top priority.”
The following are examples of the expansion regulations that all Professional Development League Clubs will be expected to follow:
- Install new netting from foul pole to foul pole.
- Follow the new height standard of netting behind home plate to the dugout.
Teams that do not meet compliance by the 2025 deadline will be subject to discipline and fines.
Parks were previously allowed to set their own backstop standards, which means a significant number of parks will have to adapt their backstop netting to upgrade their facilities. This will result in a rate of investment in netting infrastructure and improvements in parks around the country at an unprecedented rate. Parks will have until the opening day of 2025 to meet the standards, though they are encouraged to adopt the new standards as quickly as possible. Park owners and managers can call Carolina Sports Concepts at 704-658-6523 to get a free initial quote.
Some park owners and employees view this requirement as challenging. In an effort to ease into the new requirements, the league will provide a consultant specializing in protective netting, who has been hired to advise parks on the next steps to achieve implementation.
The consultant may be tasked with aiding and advising, but parks will be expected to find an installer themselves. And few installers are as equipped and adaptable as Carolina Sports Concepts. We are ready to help PDL parks adopt and install the new standards.
Carolina Sports Concepts has a portfolio of successful net installations, some of which even include baseball parks much like those affected by the new initiative. Take a look at their work at Catawba College which meets and exceeds the upcoming requirements.
The story is ever-evolving and we expect to see more details related to the implementation in the coming weeks.