The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

August 14, 2013

Despite safety measures, stadium falls occur

(Continued)

ATHENS —

Though teams and municipalities can build stadiums in the design of their choosing, all must meet strict safety guidelines. The International Building Code is the industry standard, adopted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It calls for railings in front of seats to be a minimum of 26 inches. Protective railings in open-sided areas, such as concourses on the outer edges of stadiums, have a minimum height requirement of 42 inches.

An Associated Press reporter on Tuesday measured the guardrail of the smoking platform where Homer stood before he fell, and it was 42 inches. That would reach the top of the stomach on a 6-foot man. Homer was 6-6.

Most fans surveyed at ballparks around the country Tuesday said they felt safe, even in the aftermath of Homer's death.

"I don't really know how much more they can do," said Brandon Moskowitz, who was at a game at Wrigley Field with his father.

Indeed, safety can't be guaranteed even when ballparks go beyond the minimum requirements.

At Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, the guardrails in front of the left-field seats were 34 inches, well above local and international building requirements. Yet that didn't prevent firefighter Shannon Stone's fatal fall in July 2011, when he reached out to catch a ball tossed his way by then-Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton. Stone's accident was witnessed by his 6-year-old son.

After Stone's fall, the Rangers raised all front-row railings that were above field level to at least 42 inches, with some being raised by more than a foot. (There already were 42-inch rails at the base of steps leading to first-row seats, and all along the second deck of seats high above right field in an area known as the Home Run Porch.) The new raised railings in the $1.1 million project included beveled tops and leaned slightly inward, making it safer for fans in front-row seats throughout the stadium.

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