A new era dawns for the Arkansas Travelers when baseball returns this week for the 2017 season.
After 16 seasons as the class AA affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim, the Travelers debut Thursday in the Seattle Mariners' organization.
The club has almost upgraded Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock to enhance fan safety. The protective netting behind home plate has been extended 70 feet down each foul line.
Travs General Manager Paul Allen said the ubiquitous smart phone is to blame.
"People tend to pay a little less attention to the game and are focusing a little bit on their social media and things like that," Allen said. "So, this is just to protect those people from that moment 'cause all it takes is a flash-second moment for something to happen."
Allen said fans may not even notice the new netting because it is 54-percent thinner than the previous net.
They will notice an addition to the concession area, the Fielder's Choice Hot Dog Stand where patrons can customize their own hot dog and nachos to their individual tastes.
The Travelers open a six-game homestand with a three-game set against the Corpus Christi Hooks Thursday.