Biloxi Shuckers

Shuckers to expand protective netting at MGM Park

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD 
 Fans reach for a foul ball during a Biloxi Shuckers game at MGM Park in July 2015. The park is going to expand the netting around the field to protect fans from foul balls.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD Fans reach for a foul ball during a Biloxi Shuckers game at MGM Park in July 2015. The park is going to expand the netting around the field to protect fans from foul balls. SUN HERALD

The Biloxi Shuckers announced Wednesday that they plan to expand the protective netting at MGM Park for the 2016 season.

The move is in accordance to recommendations made by Major League Baseball to expand netting to the end of each dugouts.

Since MGM Park's opening in June last year, there have been several instances where fans have been struck by hard hit foul balls in the stands and on the concourse.

The new netting should significantly decrease the risk for fans at the home of the Milwaukee Brewers' Double-A affiliate.

"Fan safety is of the utmost importance to us and we support the Commissioner's recommendations," Biloxi Shuckers president Ken Young said in a press release. "The fan experience is also very important, and a major part of that experience is safety. We fully believe this extension allows fans who are sitting closest to home plate with the least amount of reaction time to be in a safe environment, while still enjoying all facets of a Shuckers game. As we all know, there are still inherent risks associated with attending baseball games. People still need to pay attention."

The Shuckers began contacting season ticket holders this week to inform them of the move to improve fan safety.

The team is working with engineers and hopes to have the net expansion complete at some point early in the season.

Birmingham, Pensacola and Chattanooga are other Southern League teams that have announced plans to expand their netting for the 2016 campaign.

The expanded netting at MGM Park will extend to the outside ends of each dugout. The netting currently covers sections 100-102 and parts of sections 103 and 104 directly behind home plate. The added netting will now cover sections 107 and 108.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred issued recommendations to expand protective netting to all 30 MLB teams in December.

"Major League Baseball prides itself on providing fans in our ballparks with unparalleled proximity and access to our players and the game taking place on the field," he said in a statement. "At the same time, it is important that fans have the option to sit behind protective netting or in other areas of the ballpark where foul balls and bats are less likely to enter. This recommendation attempts to balance the need for an adequate number of seating options with our desire to preserve the interactive pre-game and in-game fan experience that often centers around the dugouts, where fans can catch foul balls, see their favorite players up close and, if they are lucky, catch a tossed ball or other souvenir."

The Shuckers will host the Brewers in an exhibition at 1:10 p.m. on April 2 at MGM Park and the regular season will start in Biloxi on April 7.

Tickets are still available for the exhibition game with the Brewers.

  Comments