New nets are in place down the foul lines at Principal Park.

New nets are in place down the foul lines at Principal Park.

A popular summer pastime for many Iowans will have a different look this season.

Officials with many minor and major league baseball teams, in the interest of fan safety, have installed more safety netting around their ballparks.

At Principal Park in Des Moines, the home of the Iowa Cubs, the netting behind home plate now extends down to the ends of the first and third base dugouts.

Iowa Cubs assistant general manager Nate Teut says more fans are distracted these days by their cell phones and other handheld device, so they’re not always watching for a foul balls or bats flying into the stands. “We’re constantly reminding fans to follow the Iowa Cubs on Twitter, check us out on Facebook, or go to, and those type of things. So, if we’re asking fans to engage with the Iowa Cubs on social media and that involves looking down at your phone, then the least we can do is try to protect them as much as we can,” Teut said.

Some baseball fans might not like the slightly obstructed view of the playing field, but Teut believes they’ll get used to watching the game through the netting. “You know, they’ll notice it, especially the fans who’ve had season tickets in that area of the ballpark for several years, even decades. I think it will take several games for those fans to get acclimated to the net,” Teut said.

The Iowa Cubs open the 2016 season against Round Rock this Thursday (April 7) at 3 p.m. at Principal Park in Des Moines.