Pirates plan to extend protective netting at PNC Park to foul poles
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who two years ago became one of the first teams to extend protecting netting to the ends of the dugouts, won’t wait for Major League Baseball to demand further safety for its fans.
President Frank Coonelly said Thursday the team plans to extend the netting at PNC Park to or near the foul poles.
He did not offer a timeline for the completion of the project.
“Fan safety at PNC Park is of paramount importance,” Coonelly said in a statement. “We have once again engaged our netting experts to re-evaluate our protective netting design and to immediately develop a plan to extend the protective netting at PNC Park farther down the baselines.
“While we have put these efforts on a very fast track, we are committed to developing the right plan for PNC Park — one that will increase fan safety while also preserving and enhancing the overall game day experience to the greatest degree possible.”
The issue of offering fans increased protection has emerged around MLB in recent seasons after several incidents occurred in which fans were hit with batted balls.
A 2-year-old girl, seated about 10 feet from the end of the netting at Minute Maid Park in Houston, was struck by a foul ball off the bat of the Chicago Cubs’ Albert Almora Jr. in May.
Statcast reported the ball traveled 160 feet in 1.2 seconds, an indication it was moving more than 90 mph. The girl is expected to be OK, but the incident left Almora, the father of two, distraught and sobbing into the arms of a security guard.
MLB ruled last year all teams must extend the netting to the ends of the dugouts.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .