MLB Nets Extending Past the Dugout: Hurting or Helping?

Growing up with a mom who worked for the Philadelphia Phillies and living only 20 minutes outside of the ballpark, I live and breathe baseball. I have been since I was baby. One of my favorite areas of the ballpark to sit is behind the dugout — it makes you feel so close and connected to what’s going on, on the field. The view is unbeatable, but this year, like many teams, the Phillies are extending their safety nets past the whole length of the dugout. The Phillies were one the first to announce that they would be extending. This may seem like an unquestionable solution to fan injury from foul balls and flying bats, but what many fans fear is how it will take away from the game in those seats.

Looking from the perspective of a sport lawyer and the MLB team’s lawyers, this will save them from many problems. Sport law has always been of interest to me, and I think it is something I will definitely take up in the future, so learning about this new extension caught my interest right away. Putting my professional opinion ahead of my fan opinion in this case is important because I know this is a way to keep fans even safer. According to Boston Globe, approximately 30 balls per game enter into the stands. These stats can be found similar for many MLB teams. That puts fans at a large risk of getting hurt by those balls, especially behind the dugout. Not far from home-plate, the speed of the baseball hitting off the bat doesn’t slow much between the time it hits off the bat to the time it reaches the dugout. These new nets will save dozens of people from injury in this area, but it will also cause some fan unhappiness.

Fans knew when buying seats in the, now, newly netted area was putting them at risk of balls and bats reaching the crowd. They were willing to take that risk, however, at the chance to be that close to the players. Fans have already spoken out about the nets obstructing the view and interactions they usually buy the tickets for. Many are not happy. While ticket sales might not plummet too much, MLB teams should worry about fans not wanting to pay as much for these dugout tickets anymore. They are going to hear a lot about it as we begin the new 2017 season, so the teams need to be prepared for some backlash.

While this is a smart decision for safety, it isn’t going to be a walk-in-the-park to keep fans happy about it.

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