As the baseball season approaches, the Detroit Tigers are joining other Major League Baseball teams in installing a specialty ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene net at its Comerica Stadium to improve fans' safety.
The "enhanced netting system, sold by Promats Athletics of Salisbury, N.C., will extend down the first and third baselines to protect more fans from being hit by errant balls and bats.
The netting is sold under the brand name Ultra Cross Dyneema Netting, and will be 20 percent narrower and more transparent than similar protective nets, will stretch 30-feet high and cover infield and outfield boxes along opposite foul lines, according to the Detroit Tigers in a March 13 news announcement. The previous netting covered seats in between each dugout.
The team compiled spray charts and scatter plots to determine where balls and bats most frequently ended up in the stands, working up a plan for the netting based on those areas.
"We went through the right process in that we did our research and analyzed the data, all of which went into making this decision, and we are fully aligned with Major League Baseball's recommendation," Al Avila, executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager, said in a news release.
The netting extension at Comerica Park exceeds MLB regulations and was not done to conform with other ballparks or in response to any specific incidents, team spokesman Ron Colangelo said.
The announcement was first made in a letter to season ticket holders.
The new netting is 1.2 mm thick — 0.32 mm thinner than before — and will provide unobtrusive viewing for fans while increasing safety, the team said.
Promats Athletics says it has sold similar netting to a range of MLB teams, among them the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. It says the thinner size and its design helps the netting blend into the park, so it does not intrude on fans' viewing pleasure.
Cost of the new netting was not disclosed.