According to Richard Edwards, director of the Physical Plant, the netting behind home plate which protects fans from getting hit with flying foul balls is examined for signs of wear every four to six years. Earlier this year when it was inspected, the decision was made to replace the netting.
This decision was a result of two factors: net deterioration and new Major League Baseball safety requirements. Major League Baseball now dictates that the netting extend an additional 20 feet in either direction. Though the netting wasn’t in critical condition where replacement was crucial, the wear combined with the necessary extension caused administration to authorize the replacement.
“It wasn’t like it needed to be replaced, necessarily, but it was starting to get to that point where it was,” Edwards said. “We got two things done at once.”
President Andrew Matonak met with Valley Cat officials before the work was started. They authorized workers to purchase and install an extra 40 feet on each side to exceed Major League requirements.
The net is brand new and state-of-the art. It boasts more strength than the old netting, but is also thinner and does not have knots, which will allow spectators to see the game better.
Workers installed the net in three large pieces and then tied the sections together. The work was completed last week.
Plans have also been made to replace the green padding along both baselines in the stadium in the near future.
According to Edwards, “It’s not a safety issue because it’s still padded, but it’s starting to tear so it’s an aesthetic issue.”