Hank Aaron Stadium undergoes major upgrades in time for 2017 season
31 March 2017
The Mobile BayBears play their 2017 Southern League baseball opener on April 12, and will do so at newly renovated Hank Aaron Stadium.
The City of Mobile has made numerous improvements to the 21-year-old facility, including new outfield grass and drainage, new grandstand seating, a new scoreboard, and upgraded audio equipment. Fans can get a look at the changes at the BayBears' annual Fan Day, which is Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
"Together with the City of Mobile, we worked to identify certain areas of the stadium we felt needed improvement prior to the 2017 season," BayBears general manager Chris Morgan said. "The recent renovations will enhance the overall experience for everyone attending games at Hank Aaron Stadium this season and we greatly appreciate the city's support for these upgrades."
Mobile is one of the rainiest cities in the country, which made upgrading the stadium's drainage system a priority. The team's hope is that the new system will "dramatically reduce" the number of games that have to be postponed or delayed this season and beyond.
The stadium has also replaced more than 1,300 grandstand seats, with plans to replace the remaining seats in the 6,000-seat stadium before the 2018 season. The new scoreboard and upgraded audio equipment will also enhance the fan experience, as will the new awning that protects the field-level suites and field level seats.
Another major change this year is the extension of the field-level netting down each of the foul lines. Injuries caused by line drives and broken bats have become an issue at all levels of professional baseball in recent years, and the BayBears anticipate the changes making Hank Aaron Stadium one of the "one of the safest parks in all of Minor League Baseball."
"Fan safety is of utmost importance to the BayBears organization, and the extended netting greatly assists in protecting people from sharply-hit balls that enter the seating areas during games," Morgan said. "It is important that fans have the ability to sit close to the field without having to worry about a significant risk of injury. We strongly believe this was a necessary step to making our stadium a fun, safe, and family-friendly environment."
At Saturday's Fan Day, fans will be able to enjoy free concession items, as well as take batting practice on the field and run the bases. The BayBears will also offer tours of the upgraded facilities.
The BayBears, who are entering their first year as the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, open the 2017 season on the road at Chattanooga April 6. The home-opener against Jackson is set for 6:35 p.m. April 12