The Texas Rangers announced Tuesday that they are raising the railings located in front of all seating sections at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to a height of 42 inches.
That represents an increase of a foot in some areas and a height eight inches higher at the leftfield location where on July 7 Shannon Stone toppled over a 34-inch railing and onto a concrete surface 20 feet below while reaching for a tossed ball. Stone, 39, died from his injuries within an hour.
In addition, the Rangers will add bright yellow signage at the base of all aisles and in front of upper-level seating sections warning fans to not "lean, sit on, or stand against rail," according to ESPN Dallas reporter Richard Durrett. The Rangers will make scoreboard and public address announcements emphasizing this warning before games (Texas opens a seven-game home stand Friday), and security personnel will strictly enforce the policy among fans seated near railings.
The team removed a tarp installed to bridge the gap between the leftfield seating section and the visitors scoreboard through which Stone fell. No safety net will be incorporated into the Rangers' safety changes, which emphasize railing height above all else. Engineering evaluations are under way as to how to best accomplish the adjustments, and an exact date of completion was not known as of this writing.
"The safety of our fans is our top priority," said Rangers CEO and president Nolan Ryan in a statement Tuesday. "The initiatives we are announcing today for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will help to ensure that we meet that priority."
Select railing heights were raised in 1994, after a fan fell out of the Home Run Porch following the ballpark's debut game. However, a railing that remained at its original height failed to contain another fan who fell 30 feet from the stadium's club level last July. Both survived.
Following a pair of unrelated non-fatal falls at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in 2009, a sports architect told AB that 42 inches may become the new standard for all stadium railing heights. Currently, the International Building Code requires a height of 42 inches in front of aisles, but only 26 inches in front of seating.
According to the ESPN Dallas report, the Rangers' extra precaution pleases Josh Hamilton, the player who tossed a foul ball to Stone. "I think it's smart," Hamilton said. "It's not going to hurt anything. It's good to know that the organization really cares about the fans and the safety of the fans and is willing to make improvements even though they aren't necessary as far as safety standards."