MLB safety initiative plays out in Peoria

By Philip Haldiman
Independent Newsmedia

City Council approved an extra $90,000 for a new project to expand the Peoria Sports Complex stadium’s netting that wraps around the infield where the Seattle Mariners  and San Diego Padres play.

The estimated cost to design and install the new netting was $200,000. Total cost is $290,000.

Operations Superintendent Mike Hyland said that as the design of the project developed, it became a more robust system wherein it will allow the opportunity to extend the net farther down the line past the dugouts if there is direction to do so in the future.

The net will expand from the backstop behind home plate, over the dugouts and continue down the foul lines in front of field level seating.

Funding came from the spring training ticketing surcharge fund in coordination with the Padres and Mariners, he said.

“We felt it prudent to develop this option in the system now instead of trying to make modifications or completely re-doing the system in the future if or when it is deemed necessary to extend,” he said.

The netting will be completed before the spring training season opener Feb. 22.

The move toward the expansion came after Major League Baseball set forth initiatives last year to help improve fan safety through a focus on expanding netting from the backstop, behind home plate, over the dugouts and continuing down the foul lines in front of field level seating.

In recent years, the league has seen low-flying balls and broken bats result in injuries to fans, and the expansion was implemented to protect fans in field level seats.

Mr. Hyland said the extended net will make the Peoria stadium safer.

The Peoria Sports Complex home teams — San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners — completed netting expansions at their regular season stadiums prior to the 2018 season and support this initiative.

All 30 Major League Baseball stadiums now have extended netting.

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