Safe, fun environment ‘No. 1 priority’ for Flying Squirrels

Safe, fun environment ‘No. 1 priority’ for Flying Squirrels

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - For many, sitting up-close to the action at any live event is ideal, but being too close can have its drawbacks.

For example, at Wednesday night’s Chicago Cubs-Houston Astros game in Houston, a young girl was struck by a foul ball.

The batter, Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. can be seen visibly distressed, even burying his head in the arms of a security guard. The girl is reported to be OK, and the Houston Astros tweeted out a statement on Wednesday:

“Any time one person goes home unhappy, because of something that happened, that concerns us," Todd ‘Parney’ Parnell, of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, said

Parnell said the safety net at The Diamond in Richmond surpasses MLB’s standards of 120 feet.

The netting originally covered the area around third base up to home plate but was extended two years ago to the far end of the dugouts.

People have been hit by fouls balls in the past, according to Parnell, but that none of those incidents turned out to be serious.

“You have fans that like to sit behind the dugout with no screens, but I think once we put the screen up, we’ve actually seen more people move over [to behind the dugout],” Parnell said.

He said seeing young kids in the stands every night made him nervous, and extending the netting was something that was on the minds of staff for a long time.

“Number one priority is fan safety, and a fun environment, where we can make memories for people, that’s what we always strive to do," Parnell said. "I think we’ve been very successful. We welcome our 4 millionth fan to the Diamond as the Flying Squirrels later in June, and I’d like to think a huge majority of those have gone home happy and safe.”

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