Major League Baseball (MLB) teams face unique challenges in protecting their fans.
Batters can strike a ball with breathtaking power, sending it through the air at speeds that can exceed 100mph. Meanwhile, fans enjoy all the action at close proximity to the field.
While it is exciting to maybe catch a fly ball in the stands, it can also lead to serious injury given the sheer speed of the balls. The risk is much greater than many people realize. Every year, around 1,750 fans are hurt by foul balls at MLB games, which equates to around two injuries every three games.
With MLB teams preparing for the 2020 season, more baseball fans can expect to be protected thanks to Avient.
Ultra Cross Netting – manufactured by Net Systems and made with Black Dyneema® fiber – has already been installed at 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums across the U.S. since being introduced in 2016.
The Washington Nationals are set to join the list, having announced plans to extend their protective netting ahead of next season.
Mark D. Lerner, Managing Principal Owner and Vice Chairman of the Washington Nationals, says the team were inspired to take action after seeing “several fans injured by bats and balls leaving the field of play at other stadiums.” He adds: “Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans.”Several MLB clubs including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs have also committed to netting renovations at their training facilities.
The MLB Commissioner’s Office recommended that teams strengthen the netting or add a barrier device in all stadiums to fully protect fans.
The challenge was finding a product that would adequately protect the crowds from injury without obstructing the close view of the field, which plays a crucial part in the thrilling experience of live baseball at the highest level. With that in mind, Dyneema® was the perfect choice.
The impressive strength of Dyneema® fiber allows Net Systems to manufacture Ultra Cross Netting in extremely thin configurations. This, in itself, results in thinner, barely visible netting. The view of the action is further enhanced because Black Dyneema® fiber can hold the field-green net coating better than traditional white-coloration base materials.
Ultra Cross Netting is also braided rather than knotted. According to third party testing procedures, knots are one of the most common failure points in stadium netting because they’re thicker than braids. Some other systems use twisted fibers that are knotted together, which also results in a thicker, more obstructive screen.
Thanks to a combination of all these factors, the Ultra Cross Netting made with Dyneema® is almost invisible, yet strong enough to protect fans from fly balls.
Every year, 30 million workers are protected by products made with Dyneema® fibers, as well as seven million MLB fans.
We want to take this even further and strengthen our commitment to protecting people and the environment we live in, both now and in the future, with solutions that continue to enhance sustainability.
Our solutions have already made a huge difference to the emergency services industry in the US, with more than one million first responders protected by Avient. Meanwhile, gloves made with Dyneema® are becoming the new standard for cut protection in the US, where there 95,000 hand injuries related to cuts, lacerations and punctures every year.
These are just two of the many industries embracing the safety capabilities of the world’s strongest fiber. We hope that through continued efforts in education and development, we can make a difference to millions more lives.