ARLINGTON -- The Texas Rangers are trying to make their stadium safer for fans.
The team announced Tuesday that it is in the process of raising all front-row railings to 42 inches. That is the highest standard in the United States and the current height of front-row railings in front of aisles. Other railings throughout Rangers Ballpark in Arlington vary from 30 to 34 inches. The International Building Code minimum height is 26 inches.
The railings in the left-field stands, from which 39-year-old Brownwood firefighter Shannon Stone fell approximately 20 feet to his death July 7, are 34 inches. Stone fell one year and one day after Tyler Morris was injured after falling 30 feet from the club level to the field level.
"We did a review of all the rail heights last year and, as we are today, we exceed code for rail heights," Rangers executive vice president of ballpark and event operations Rob Matwick said. "But obviously with two events in the course of basically a year, we felt like we had to take a different step this time."
The Rangers would like to install the new railings as soon as possible but are still in the architectural and engineering phases. It has yet to be determined whether the team can add height to the current railings or if they will have to replace the railings completely. Because of that, Matwick said, the team isn't certain how much it would cost or whether the project would be completed during the season.
"The safety of our fans is our top priority," team president and CEO Nolan Ryan said in a statement.
Until the railings are installed, the Rangers are taking three precautionary measures that will be in place when Texas returns for a seven-game homestand beginning Friday.
First, they are adding signage across all front-row railings advising fans not to lean, sit on or stand against rails. Secondly, the Rangers will air a pregame warning with the same information.
Finally, security and customer service personnel will enforce this policy with guests seated near rails. Six or seven security guards, as they were in the games following Stone's death, will be stationed in the front-row aisles of the left-field seats.
The tarp from the left-field seats to the out-of-town scoreboard has been removed, and there are no immediate plans to build a safety net, or something comparable, in between those two structures. The Rangers believe the No. 1 way to prevent another incident is to increase the height of the rails.
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who threw the ball Stone's way, liked the idea of raising the rails.
"I think it's smart," Hamilton said. "It's not going to hurt anything. It's good to know that the organization really cares about the fans and the safety of the fans and is willing to make improvements even though they aren't necessary as far as safety standards."
Matwick said Major League Baseball has been informed throughout the process, but it was a club-driven decision.
The organization anticipates fan pushback for raising the railings, as doing so will affect sightlines. Matwick, though, compared it to viewing a game behind the backstop netting.
"There will probably be some issues and challenges with sightlines, but that will have to be part of the experience," he said.
Staff writer Jeff Wilson
contributed to this report.
Follow Drew Davison on Twitter @drewdavison.