Major League Baseball is dealing with a major PR crisis after a number of fans were injured by foul balls at stadiums in the past few years. Some of these fans responded by filing personal injury lawsuits. As a result, MLB has gotten proactive and recommended to all of its teams that additional protective netting be installed in stadiums, including the areas between team dugouts.
The new guidelines were announced during the league’s annual winter trade meetings. MLB carefully crafted the guidelines in response to a detailed study on fan safety. The league financed the study after taking a major hit in the media over the perceived failures of current safety measures at stadiums.
The reality is that all Major League Baseball teams already protect fans sitting behind home plate. Anyone attending a game while seated in this “danger zone” is protected by mesh netting. Other fans, however, are not always so lucky; they are exposed to dangerous foul balls and tossed bats. That’s why MLB ultimately decided to recommend that teams install protective netting beyond the area 70 feet within home plate. The hope is that this extra protection will ensure that fans not seated behind home plate will be able to avoid serious injuries caused by foul balls, bats and other playing equipment that happens to go into the stands.
Since the recommendations are just that – recommendations – they will not be mandatory. The teams are free to decide whether they want to follow the guidelines and install additional netting at stadiums. There is an expectation, however, that the majority of league franchises will adhere to the suggested guidelines and take extra safety precautions. In fact, two MLB organizations, the Houston Astros and the Cincinnati Reds, already use extra netting, while the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies have all agreed to install more netting at their respective stadiums.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently issued a statement in support of the new safety guidelines. Manfred noted that the measures should help to ensure that the game’s fans remain safe while still enjoying an “interactive” experience at the ballpark.
The safety measures are being implemented despite the fact that most sports teams and stadium operators are insulated against premises liability for fan injuries. That’s because game tickets often include injury disclaimers that explicitly state that fans knowingly assume a certain degree of risk when they attend a professional sporting event, whether it’s baseball, basketball, football or hockey.
For further information about MLB’s recommendations for installing more protective netting at team stadiums, view the ABCNews.com article, “MLB Recommends Netting Between Dugouts for All 30 Ballparks.”
If you or a loved one sustained an injury while attending a sporting event in New Jersey, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC can assist you. We understand the nuances of NJ personal injury laws and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case