As Injuries Gain Visibility, How Serious Is Major League Baseball About Fan Safety? – Forbes
On more than one occasion, I have interviewed Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. In each of these, he has always struck me as willing to answer the hard questions, and do so intelligently. In each of the last two interviews I have had with him, the topic of fan safety has been discussed, namely around increasing safety netting past the dugouts.
When asked what premium Manfred placed on the safety of the fans that attend games around the league, he has said it’s important.
“Our position has always been the same,” said Manfred to me. “Fan safety is a very high priority for the league.”
Indeed, nine clubs in Major League Baseball have already extended netting on their own. The Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins extended their nets during the 2015-16 offseason while the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves did so this past offseason.
But potential legislation in New York City has me wondering if fan safety is only as important to baseball as some of its owners want it to be.
A bill introduced by NYC Council Member Rafael Espinal (read it here) would seek increasing public safety at NYC major and minor league baseball stadiums. The bill would require stadiums with a capacity of at least 5,000 spectators to extend protective netting from the area behind home plate to the foul poles at the end of both lines, during baseball games, as well as increased signage warning fans of balls and potentially bats going into the stands. If it becomes law, it would force the New York Yankees and Mets to extend netting.
The Yankees would not comment on the bill. Repeated requests for comment to the New York Mets went unanswered.