In Foul Territory: The Real Cost of MLB Extended Netting
During the last week of January 2016, the Double AA MiLB Fort Wayne TinCaps announced they would be extending netting to the end of each dugout for the 2016 season. They anticipated a cost of this extended netting to be $20,000. The rationale was to protect fans from foul balls and loose bats.
However, the debate over extra netting in 2015 was virtually non-existent. In truth, netting is not a cost-efficient method for protecting fans and maintaining the player/fan interaction which is central to baseball. Netting, is both the short- and long-term, is more expensive to install and to maintain, a point MLB Commissioner Manfred appeared to ignore before making his announcement during the 2015 Winter Meetings in which he “recommended” extended netting. The issues opponents to extended netting addressed to MLB were ignored.
Indeed, Commissioner Manfred ignored several alternatives to extended netting, particularly banning cell phone use in certain sections and moving families with small children into designated sections in the outfield and upper decks, areas with fewer foul balls and no errant bats. He also ignored the idea of tempered glass. This was an error that could cost teams and the league tens of thousands of dollars over the course of each season.
The evidence for the benefits of tempered glass rather than netting is abundant. Basing calculations on how much the Ft. Wayne TinCaps ($20,000) report it will cost them, we can use this figure to get a pretty good idea of the monetary losses MLB and MiLB and the lost enjoyment by fans when each team installs additional netting.
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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com) Follow @foulballz