The expanded netting will extend from dugout to dugout, reaching 12 feet in height, and increase in height behind the backstop, reaching a maximum height of 32 feet at Minute Maid Park. It will be raised slightly during Astros batting practice so fans can interact with players over the top of the dugout and be lowered back in place by first pitch during Astros 2017 season home games. The Astros are one of several MLB teams expanding their netting, which is scheduled to be installed in time for the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park, March 3-5.
"Going to the ballpark and watching a game of baseball is a different experience now than it was even 10 years ago with the growing popularity of social media and real-time updates," said Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan. "We want our fans to be able to enjoy a ballgame however they like, whether that's from behind a more protective layer of netting or right in the middle of the action. We take pride in keeping our ballpark as up-to-date and family-friendly as possible, and will always make the fan experience a top priority."
At Whataburger field in Corpus Christi, installation of the expanded netting was completed on February 9. The netting itself is Knotless #420, which is less intrusive than conventional netting. Each extension runs 74 feet from a height of 31 feet, covering an additional 1,250 seats in four complete sections.
"Fan comfort is a priority in both Houston and Corpus Christi," said Corpus Christi Hooks Vice President and General Manager Michael Wood. "Many teams at the minor league level have expanded their netting; in fact, the vast majority of Texas League clubs have either similarly extended this coverage or plan to do so. We are proud to join the Houston Astros in keeping our ballpark one of the best and most modern in the league."