In the News: Safety Nets Needed at Kauffman Stadium?

12 Jul

Kevin Kietzman of Sports Radio 810 was in rare form today. While vigorously lobbying the cause of more safety netting at baseball stadiums, the radio host raised his voice at a caller who suggested the government or MLB should not intervene to mandate such regulations. When the caller protested that the game is not dangerous as long as people are paying attention, Kietzman emphatically began shouting over the man, saying that humans are simply not skilled enough to get out of the way when a baseball or piece of a baseball bat is coming toward them.

So, in the argument over whether the Kansas City Royals should pioneer extended safety nets, we know where Kietzman stands. Attention to this issue has increased recently, as Kauffman Stadium has seen three serious head injuries to spectators – including a 4-year-old girl who was taken to the hospital with a skull fracture – just this season. CommunityAmerica Ballpark, where the T-Bones play, keeps that same grim statistic.

The response of the Royals to these incidents has been to increase PA announcements reminding people to watch out for balls. The organization also contends that each ticket has a disclaimer warning fans that by attending a baseball game they are exposing themselves to possible injury or death by potentially putting themselves in the path of a speeding baseball.

Proponents of the nets argue that other sports, such as hockey and racing, took steps to create a safer fan environment only after deaths occurred. They will contend that now is an opportunity for MLB or individual teams to be proactive in the arena of fan safety. Others say that nets are unnecessary, affecting visibility and the game experience that has remained basically unchanged for over 100 years.

I’ve been to many Royals games and never had a close encounter with a foul ball, but I’ve never sat above the dugout or in one of those more exposed areas, either. What do you think the Royals, or MLB in general, should do to ensure fan safety?

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