Photo: Wikimedia Commons
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers have taken the first steps toward making their ballpark safer following the death of a fan during a recent game.The club announced Tuesday plans to raise the height of all rails in front of the seating areas “to the highest standard in the United States at this time.” It was not immediately clear how high that would be, or how soon it would be done. A news conference at the stadium was planned for later in the afternoon.
“The safety of our fans is our top priority,” Rangers president Nolan Ryan said in a news release. “The initiatives we are announcing today for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will help to ensure that we meet that priority.”
Ryan was released Tuesday from a Houston hospital after being tested for a heart ailment.
The Rangers noted that the current height of the rails exceeds code, but there have still been several accidents.
A woman posing for a photo fell over a rail following the first regular-season game at the stadium in 1994, and last year a man trying to catch a foul ball fell over a rail on the second deck. Neither was seriously injured. However, on July 8, Shannon Stone fell headfirst over the left-field wall, dropping 20 feet onto concrete trying to catch a ball tossed by a player, and died within an hour.
Some rails were raised following the 1994 fall, but none after the 2010 incident.
Because it will take time for the rails to be changed, the club is taking some immediate steps to remind fans to be careful.
The most prominent is adding signs near the rails that read, in all capital letters, “DO NOT LEAN, SIT ON, OR STAND AGAINST RAIL.” The same warning will be made before each game over the public-address system and on the scoreboards. Plus, stadium workers will more closely monitor the rails.
The Rangers’ next home game is Friday night.
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