By Ross Kelly
Have you ever looked for tickets for a baseball game and wondered, “What are the chances of me catching a foul ball from here?” Well now there is a mobile app which tells you the probability of catching a foul ball or home run before you purchase tickets for that seat.
IdealSeat is an app developed by three friends in the Seattle area. A couple of years ago they created a tracking system that collects information about where every foul ball lands. They beta tested it during the 2012 MLB season and launched the app in 2013. Today the app is configured with all 30 MLB stadiums to let fans know the best places to catch a ball in each. Just like with a strike zone, the app uses heat maps to give a visual representation of the best locations.
In addition to the probability of catching a foul ball, the app also tells fans the best seats for a number of individual preferences. Want to sit near a restroom or concessions stand? They’ve got you covered. Want to avoid the sun or work on your tan instead? They’ll tell which seats are best. They’ll even filter certain promotional events so you can only choose tickets for games with fireworks, bobblehead giveaways, etc.
The app is only focused on MLB right now but they would eventually like to expand to the other major pro sports leagues and even non-sports events. I could see this working well with NHL games as I’m sure there are people out there who want to be close to the action…and by the action I mean the fights. All they need is someone to start tracking the areas on the ice where fighting occurs most often and synchronize the seats closest to them.
IdealSeat has a small team but one of their advisers is Sam Fuld of the Oakland Athletics. Fuld has always been interested in analytics and he worked at STATS Inc. in Chicago while he played in the minors about a decade ago. Fuld contributes to a blog for IdealSeat where he regularly reports on the best places/times in each MLB stadium to be closest to the action and get autographs from players.
This is a pretty cool concept and definitely one that is of high interest to lots of fans. I wonder if the premise behind the concept was started by the notorious “baseball collector” Zack Hample. If you recall, Hample caught A-Rod’s 3000th hit and has, allegedly, caught over 8000 baseballs in his career.