- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma City Dodgers are extending the protective netting behind home plate at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark to a 100-foot radius this season to provide more protection to fans.

With the extension, most seats behind the dugout of each team will be protected. Netting will extend from Section 106 to Section 114 and will be 37 feet high, which matches the current netting that was updated in 2008.

The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1RDpTkY ) reports that the expansion begins next week and is expected to be complete by the Dodgers’ home opener Friday, April 15, against the Nashville Sounds.

“After we put some thought into it and reviewed what baseball was saying and tried to get an understanding of how that related to our ballpark, it just made sense to enhance that safety area for everyone coming to the ballpark,” OKC president and general manager Michael Byrnes told The Oklahoman.

The Dodgers informed season-ticket holders of the changes in a letter Thursday morning.

Major League Baseball announced enhanced recommendations in December’s winter meetings. MLB recommended all ballparks lengthen netting to cover seating areas within 70 feet of home play - a standard The Brick already met.

This came after Boston Red Sox fan Tonya Carpenter was critically injured by a broken bat during a game last season at Fenway Park. She was seated just to the left of the protective netting. There were multiple incidents across baseball in which fans were injured by broken bats or foul balls while seated in field-level seats.

A fan sued the New Orleans Zephyrs and the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District last season claiming he was blinded by a foul ball that struck him in a 2014 game. He said he was seated behind the third-base dugout when a foul ball flew off a handrail and hit him in the right eye, according to Nola.com.

New Orleans has not announced expanded netting. Other PCL cities Iowa, Salt Lake, Albuquerque and Nashville have all announced expansions.

Oklahoma City did not have what Byrnes qualified as a “major issue” in the five seasons he’s been with the organization though there were fans struck with foul balls.

“By and large, everyone understands what this is about,” Byrnes said. “It’s the safety of everyone at the park. I think most people understand that element of it and what we’ve learned from all of the teams across the Pacific Coast League that I’ve been able to have some conversations with is that it’s really been overwhelming supported (by fans). We expect the same here.”


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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