Braves employees stand at the portal of section 401 near
where fan Gregory K. Murrey, 60, Alpharetta, Ga., fell from
the top deck to his death during Saturday's game between the
Braves and the New York Yankees, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in
ATLANTA — The
death of a longtime Braves season-ticket holder raises questions
about the height of guard rails at the team's new stadium that is
to open in 2017.
The Braves say
they had safety in mind when planning SunTrust Park even before
Gregory Murrey's death Saturday night.
Monday would not release plans for railing heights at the new
stadium. The railings at Turner Field meet industry requirements,
but the team could exceed those heights at their new building.
Building Code, the accepted industry standard, has a minimum
height requirement of 42 inches for guard rails that act as
protective barriers in open-sided areas such as walkways or
smoking platforms. Railings in front of seated areas must be 26
John Schuerholz didn't address specifics Sunday about guard rails
at the new stadium, though he said the weekend death wouldn't
influence construction plans.
going to tie that into how you design a facility," Schuerholz
said. "It was a sad, tragic event. We obviously abide by
industry regulations and we'll continue to do that. That's what
"We made our
plans long before this event occurred. Every facility that's
getting built, there's a great deal of communication with
architects and engineers and the league in terms of abiding by
league standards for the industry. We certainly will do
released a statement Monday mourning the loss of Murrey and also
addressing safety at the new stadium.
we look to the future, we are working with our architects to
ensure that SunTrust Park has effective safety protocols in place
at the time of opening," the team said. "This process
began during the design phase of SunTrust Park many months ago and
will continue every day.
fortunate to have an architecture firm that has designed many
ballparks — and other sports facilities — so we can draw upon
their experience as industry leaders in creating the safest and
best sports and entertainment experience. Ensuring the safety of
our fans while in the ballpark has always been and will always be
a priority for our organization."
precedent for a team raising its stadium rails following a fan
At the Texas
Rangers' ballpark in Arlington, Texas, higher railings were
installed in 2012. That was done one year after Shannon Stone, a
firefighter attending a game with his 6-year-old son, fell about
20 feet after reaching for a foul ball tossed into the stands. The
Rangers raised those railings from 33 inches to 42 inches, at a
cost of $1.1 million.
height standards rails have raised questions on whether they are
sufficient, especially for taller fans. A 26-inch rail at the
bottom of a section of upper-level seats would not reach the waist
of a fan taller than 6 feet.
It seems highly
unlikely similar changes would be considered for Turner Field,
which has only one more year as the team's home. But there would
be time to adjust plans, for the new park.
was the third in eight years at Turner Field. In 2013, a fan's
death was ruled a suicide. In 2008, police cited alcohol as a
factor after a man died.
Murrey, 60, of
Alpharetta, Georgia, was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial
Hospital following his fall in the seventh inning of the
The Fulton County
medical examiner Monday ruled the death an accident caused by
blunt-force injuries to his head and torso. Toxicology results
will not be available for several weeks.
on Monday asked for privacy.
loved his family, Atlanta, and the Atlanta Braves," the
family said in a statement. Murrey held season tickets for 23
years. "The night Greg passed away, he was doing one of his
favorite things — watching the Braves."
Sunday his focus was on Murrey's family and players' families and
friends who were seated in the lower-level seats where he fell to
his death. Schuerholz said fan safety is always a priority.
something every major league team thinks about at all times. ...
Not to dismiss the importance of all those (stadium) issues, but
there will be another time and another moment to focus on
this," he said.