CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte Knights chief operating officer announced Thursday that more safety netting was being added to BB&T BallPark in uptown Charlotte.
The Knights’ home field already had safety netting behind home plate and the dugouts, but now more is being added for fan safety.
“We addressed this halfway through the season and made the decision that this is something we needed to do. This isn’t a mandatory thing – not required by Minor League (Baseball) or Major League Baseball. This is about the safety of our fans,” said Charlotte Knights COO Dan Rajkowski.
Rajkowski noted that there have been fan injuries due to foul balls in both Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball games.
In 2016, a 6-year-old boy was seriously hurt after being hit with a line drive foul ball at BB&T BallPark. James David was rushed to the hospital after the ball struck him in the head. His father, Eddie David, said the child had a skull fracture and bleeding on both sides of his brain.
At the time, the ballpark had netting in place, but the Knights said they weren't going to add more. Times have changed.
"Naturally, this has been a discussion over the last year, even longer,” explained Rajkowski Thursday.
He said the additional netting will extend down the right field line and the left field line and will protect about 90 percent of the patrons that are sitting behind home plate and both dugouts. Rajkowski said the netting will be 34 feet high, but he isn’t worried about it obstructing any views of the field.
"I'd rather protect you and have you a little uncomfortable in your view than have you hit by a bat or a ball," said Rajkowski.
Fans who spoke to WBTV Thursday night said they supported the idea to enhance safety at the stadium.
"Without knowing a lot of the back stories, I would support more netting. I think that's a good idea,” said Charlotte resident Jim Marsh.
Nick Bernado, another baseball fan, said he enjoys going to the Knight games, but does worry about foul balls causing injury. He supports the additional netting.
"I think it’s a great move. There’s a lot of kids and younger babies that go to these games and everybody needs to be protected and safe,” said Bernado.
Rajkowski said the netting should be finished within a week. He said it will be in place and ready to go for the first baseball games played at BB&T BallPark this spring.