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The Rangers are going to raise the rails in front of all seating areas

Jul 19, 2011, 2:49 PM EDT

Rangers Ballpark AP

According to Evidence Rule 407, subsequent remedial measures are not admissible in order to prove liability for an accident.  But they sure are interesting outside of the context of litigation:

The Texas Rangers have taken the first steps toward making their ballpark safer following the death of a fan during a recent game. The club announced Tuesday plans to raise the height of all rails in front of the seating areas “to the highest standard in the United States at this time.”

The team is going to have a press conference about it later this afternoon.

I have no desire to watch the video of Shannon Stone’s fall, but if anyone who has seen it has an opinion as to whether or not a higher rail would have helped prevent his death, I’d be curious to hear it.

  1. royalsfaninfargo - Jul 19, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    Why wouldnt every stadium in every league do this to be on the safe side?

    • paperlions - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      Because fans will just climb up taller railings in order to lean over the top of them….and because most parks experience zero deaths because of this type of accident.

      • Phillies Homer - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:06 PM

        Dammit beat me to it! Although you’re probably going to get a bunch of thumbs down for this even though you’re right.

      • Utley's Hair - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:53 PM

        While that may be so, if the place isn’t deemed safe by general perception—which would be achieved more by raising the railings than it would be by not raising them—then people will be less likely to go, thereby cutting into the bottom line. So, business wins out over teaching lessons in stupidity.

        One thing they should do in the future is get rid of the ladder type railings with the vertical bars—and putting tall tables in front of railings, for that matter. That’s just asking for stupidity to mix with alcohol.

      • kalinedrive - Jul 19, 2011 at 8:45 PM

        If you get rid of the ladder type railings with the vertical bars, what do you have instead? You can’t just put the top rail at 4 ft. and not have a bar at 2 ft. to keep people from falling under the bar. And you don’t want cross-hatched bars or something that obstructs the view more.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 19, 2011 at 8:50 PM

        I agree paper- think of the hundreds of thousands of people that have filtered through that stadium and not one death. The unfortunate death of one careless guy (yeah, I know I’ll get thumbs down for that) should not result in immediate wholesale changes. This country has become so over-reactive whenever anything bad happens. One catcher has an unfortunate bone break in a plate collision and then there were immediate calls to change the rules after a hundred and forty years. As for the bottom line- they better hope the higher railings don’t block views or people won’t want to sit there.

      • Utley's Hair - Jul 19, 2011 at 10:27 PM

        Kalinedrive, I’m talking about the body of the railing, not the top. You can have vertical bars there. Or the Bank has thick Plexiglass around the upper decks.

  2. kopy - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    I have always thought it weird that, like the picture, many stadiums have higher rails at the bottom of stairs (where people more likely to fall) than they do nearby. If it’s an issue of view, they should lower the concrete between the seat and railing. That way the railing is higher when standing, but in the same place while seated.

    I did watch the video once, and a higher rail would have helped. As one might assume, it was a case of Shannon’s center of gravity being lower than the railing. paperlions has a good point, but there are ways to design it so you can’t climb on it, and Shannon wasn’t climbing anything anyway.

    That being said, I don’t know if raising the railing is the right way to go, or if it’s just a bandage on the issue of people leaning over railings until a dozen people lean over a railing at proper height that breaks/bends and a dozen people fall. Didn’t something like that happen at an Army/Navy game at the Vet a while back?

    • Utley's Hair - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:13 PM

      The railing was pushed over at the Army/Navy game because of a mass of midshipmen—I think—were collecting at the bottom of a staircase and pushed it over. Luckily it wasn’t too far up.

  3. pbsenerchia - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    There’s definitely no amount of safety measures that would be enough to save fans from their own stupidity (i.e., getting drunk and sliding down a railing), but having seen the video I do think higher railings would have saved Stone. I’ve sat in the front row of the upper deck at Nats Park, and was struck by how low the railings were – didn’t think it was safe, because I know if a foul ball came I would be reaching for it with a few beers in me, and I’m over 6 feet. I think all ballparks should follow the Rangers lead on this one – one such tragedy, easily preventable in hindsight, is too many.

    • kopy - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:16 PM

      You brought up a point I almost did but neglected. I’m 6’4″, and I had a friend whose 26th floor balcony I rarely went out on because the railing came up to just below my pelvis. I’m not afraid of heights, but the likelihood of me leaning or being pushed up against the railing and flipping over just seemed too plausible. I wouldn’t be surprised if Shannon Stone was a fairly tall guy.

      • pbsenerchia - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:23 PM

        yeah, I think he was 6’3″ or 6’4″. At any rate, having just re-watched part of the vid, the railing hit him mid-thigh. I guess, as any tall person knows, the world is built for short people.

      • IdahoMariner - Jul 19, 2011 at 5:42 PM

        “I guess the world is built for short people.”

        I cannot tell you how many times I have thought the opposite. Weird. All about perspective, I guess.

        And yeah, I had some front row seats in the left field bleachers and felt like the railing was too low (and I am just 5’7″) — appreciated the sightline, but was weirded out everytime I got up or someone passed me to get to their seat.

  4. trevorb06 - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    Unfortunately you can never fully protect people from theirselves. This is a great measure and should be applauded but you’re never going to have zero mishaps when it comes to homo sapians.

  5. Brian Murphy - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    I’ve seen the video, and a higher rail probably would have decreased the chances of him falling. But with that being said, the rail went up to his waist. It was plenty high. He just leaned WAY too far out over the railing for a baseball.
    This move seemed inevitable because the public wants the Rangers to show some initiative, do something, anything. But the height of the railing is not to blame for his death.

  6. hystoracle - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Might help to close in the space between the scoreboard and the wall too. So if someone does fall – they fall a few feet to a flat surface. OR put up a 10 ft high chain link fence with razor wire on the top. that should slow down even the most determined drunk.

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