Venice High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District had a problem—their softball and baseball outfields were both shorter than the standard, which led to wayward balls landing in adjacent neighborhoods or parking lots, all located in downtown L.A. The Sportsfield Specialties Solution: conduct a trajectory study based on the venue, athletes, and conditions; and design a barrier netting system to catch the majority of balls exiting the fields. The new netting would become Sportsfield’s tallest system to date.
Alex Fletcher, Western Regional Manager at Sportsfield said the crux of the issue was Venice High School’s shorter-than-usual outfields. “Typically, a baseball outfield has a minimum distance of approximately 300’ down the foul lines before reaching the home run fence. Venice’s baseball field is approximately 270’, making the average home run easier to achieve, and consistently exposing the surrounding residential homes and adjacent parking areas.” Fletcher added that the softball field is in a similar predicament with a 180’ left outfield line when the standard is about 200’ to 220’. He explained that it is a problem because both fields are located close to homes, walkways, and parking lots. “We’ve designed a lot of barrier netting systems to protect adjacent pedestrian areas, but not at a venue with such uniquely short foul line distances, and in such a congested city like Los Angeles,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher explained that it was necessary to conduct softball and baseball trajectory studies to guarantee the efficacy of Venice High’s new netting systems. Sportsfield’s in-house engineers used project site data to design a system tall enough to catch the majority of balls potentially crossing its perimeter. Variables considered for the study included ball mass and circumference; bat style and material; average ball backspin, launch angle, and exit velocity for high school athletes; ambient temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure; wind speed direction, exposure; and the site’s elevation were all accounted for.
The results determined that a 90’ system would work best to prevent wayward balls from entering neighborhoods and other pedestrian areas located outside the ballpark—a record-breaking height for a Sportsfield netting system.
To achieve such heights, the poles were constructed with an engineered splice and paired with Sportsfield’s industry-leading Ultra Cross® Knotless Netting. The netting product’s super strong yet low-profile design, a benefit of its braided and knotless Dyneema® fiber construction, means it’s significantly lighter in weight and absorbs less wind load than standard netting. Fletcher explained that standard knotted netting, in a similar system, would require 26” diameter poles—or more. By using the lighter and less wind resistant Ultra Cross® netting at Venice High School, only 20” diameter poles were required.
“In the long run, choosing Ultra Cross® saves the customer significantly on costs because you’re using smaller poles and less materials, all while reducing the size of the foundations required,” he said, adding “Plus, you can’t beat Ultra Cross’® 95% see-through visibility and exceptional durability—it’s the highest quality and best performing netting product on the market.”
Fletcher concluded, “When our clients need field equipment solutions for unique conditions, our team members—from sales to engineering and manufacturing—all rise to the occasion. This Venice High School’s project is evidence of Sportsfield’s ongoing commitment to pushing our own boundaries in innovation and excellence.”