Guaranteed Rate Field will have a different look when the White Sox host the Miami Marlins to open a 10-game homestand Monday night.
It will also be safer for fans.
Protective netting extending to both foul poles in the outfield corners was installed during the All-Star break and will be in use for the first time.
The Nationals also extended netting down the first and third base lines at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. during the All-Star break, although not all the way to the foul poles. The new netting will be in place for the first time Monday when the Nats return home from a road trip to face the Rockies. The netting will extend beyond the dugouts, just short of the left and right field corners.
Every team extended the netting to the end of each dugout before the 2018 season. Going beyond that was left up to each franchise. The Sox are the first team extending nets all the way down the lines.
“We are always focused on the ballpark experience for our fans, and, of course, safety is a big part of that consideration,” Scott Reifert, Sox vice president for communications, said Wednesday. “Research into this step goes back months, but [chairman] Jerry Reinsdorf and [Illinois Sports Facility Authority chairman] Manny Sanchez talked about this in mid-June and quickly agreed that extending the protective netting was the right step to take for the ballpark and our team. The game changes, the fan experience constantly changes and we need to evolve, as well.”
Calls for extended netting increased when a young girl was struck by a foul ball off the bat of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora on May 29 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. A woman was bloodied and taken to a hospital after being hit by a foul ball off the bat of Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez on June 10 at Guaranteed Rate Field.