The death of a Braves fan at an Atlanta ballpark over the weekend is putting more pressure on Major League Baseball to improve safety at its stadiums — safety improvements that are long overdue.
Season ticket holder Gregory Murrey fell to his death from the upper deck of Turner Field on Saturday.
Witnesses say Murrey lost his footing while booing the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. It's the second death in three years at the stadium.
"This is an old stadium, so perhaps with the new stadium, they can make the rails a bit higher," one fan said. These incidents are leading many fans to call for one of the biggest updates to stadium safety since the 1920s.
"Railings in front of seats must be at least 26 inches high; in front of stairs, 42," NBC reports. "Public entertainment in 1927 was a lot different than it is in 2015.
Americans were short and smaller," Steven Adelman, a venue safety expert told NBC.
But fans falling over railings isn't the only concern. There's also a huge risk of bats and balls flying into the stands at major league speeds.
Several fans have suffered head injuries from those this year. "The instant I saw the ball, it hit me at exactly the same time, it felt, so there was no reaction time," Stephanie Wapenski told ABC.
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told USA Today: "It really scares me when I'll turn around and I'll see in these really close seats people that I know can't defend themselves — whether it be young kids or elderly people or people just not paying attention.
I know I don't want my family getting anywhere close to those close seats without some sort of netting in front of them."
"There's nothing more frustrating to me when I go to scout players and I see families with young kids who are sitting very close to the field and beyond the netting.
Part of me says, 'I would never bring my daughter and sit in that section,'" ESPN's Keith Law said. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has addressed the issue of fan safety in the past but has focused on netting instead of railings.
"We are examining all of the relevant information — stadium designs, where balls and bats go into the stands," Manfred told reporters. Improvements to MLB fan safety appear to be on the horizon, but it's netting, not taller railings, that seems to be in the forefront right now.
Murrey's death is still under investigation, but officials say they don't suspect foul play.
It seems very certain that something needs to be done at these ballparks to make them safer.
You cannot always engineer drunk or stupid out of every equation, but right now, we don’t know that those elements apply to the injury incidents that have been happening more frequently.
Is there legal recourse for these injuries? Tough to say.
For almost all parks, in purchasing your ticket, you agree to 1) assume the risks and 2) waive any potential claims you have against the ballpark and the teams for these types of injury incidents.
Where does it say that? Next time you buy your ticket, read the back. Is that valid and enforceable?
Generally, yes, but with the increasing severity of these accidents, the law may evolve and change. Stay tuned…