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Naples Daily News (Florida)
Extended safety nets are coming to JetBlue Park at Fenway South, spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.
The nets will extend past both dugouts, cover the infield areas of play and approach the outfield. They could be considered prototypes for the future of all baseball stadiums in the United States, said Kevin Devantier, sales manager for ProMats Athletics, a North-Carolina-based sporting accessories company that will complete the installation prior to Feb. 12.
The Red Sox open spring training with an exhibition doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College at 1:05 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22. The first home Grapefruit League game will be at 1:05 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, against the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins and Lee County already have installed extended safety nets that reach across both dugouts at Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex. The Red Sox will extend their nets beyond the dugouts.
"There are probably over a dozen teams that we're working with just in the major leagues," Devantier said. "I would think that every team in MLB will be extended to the end of the dugout just by the start of this season."
Fans looking at their smartphones and writing Facebook posts instead of watching the game have helped fuel the netting trend. But so have serious injuries, Devantier said.
"I think sports teams in general, they are creatures of habit," he said. "They stick to what they're used to. I think it took some injuries and some pressure before they took action.
From AB: Fan Injuries Lead to Calls for Extended Stadium Netting
"I think JetBlue is what the standard is going to be moving forward. I think that's what you'll see moving across Major League Baseball down the road."
At JetBlue Park, netting will span across sections 112 and 114 down the third-base side, beyond third base. On the first-base side, netting will extend across section 111, beyond first base.
Field box sections 105 and 106, between home plate and the dugouts, also will be covered by netting.
The nets will rise 12 feet, 8 inches above the field, the same height as the previous netting.
All netting will be "field green," further minimizing the impact to sightlines, a Red Sox news release said.
The Red Sox encourage fans to be vigilant during games and to be on the lookout for balls and bats that may enter the stands.
"We have notified season tickets holders of the netting extension and attempted to design and engineer a system that offers optimal visibility for the viewing experience," said Katie Haas, Red Sox Vice President of Florida Business Operations. "However, should any season ticket holder decide that he/she would prefer to relocate, we are happy to explore other available seating areas that might work better."
Connect with this reporter: David Dorsey (Facebook), @DavidADorsey (Twitter).
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