The new-look Phillie Phanatic will not be the only change Phillies fans will come across at the 2020 Grapefruit League home opener on Sunday.
When Spectrum Field opens its doors for the first exhibition game of the 2020 Grapefruit League season on Sunday, the Philadelphia Phillies’ beloved Phillie Phanatic mascot will not be the only thing with a new look.
“This offseason, we’ve made some great new additions to all the fandom surrounding the game,” says Phillies Director of Florida Operations John Timberlake, who adds the team’s spring training experience “keeps getting better.”
Enhancements to the Clearwater, Florida-located ballpark include new amenities, menu offerings, beer and specialty drink options, and Spring Training gear.
In an effort to protect fans from stray balls and bats that leave the playing field, the Phillies have extended 14-foot high protective netting down both foul lines. The netting covers most of the seating bowl from Section 101 (first base side) to Section 120 (third base side).
“The netting used to end at the dugouts,” writes the Tampa Bay Times’ Sharon Kennedy Wynne. “Major League Baseball came under fire the last few seasons for the increase in foul balls and fans getting seriously injured. Commissioner Rob Manfred made it mandatory that all 30 teams do this by the start of the 2020 season.”
Timberlake says that the Phillies “certainly want to let fans have access to foul balls,” however they think “the safety of fans is ultimately the most important thing.”
Fans still have access to get autographs and interact with players in sections 118 and 119.
The Phillies are not only protecting fans from balls and bats, but also Florida’s potentially dangerous UVA rays. They have added several touch-free sunscreen dispensers throughout the ballpark, including restrooms, concourse and berm areas. The SPF 30 sunscreen can resist wear-off from sweat and water.