As the first clubs prepare to play exhibitions Thursday night at their regular-season ballparks, Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced the 2014 update to its award-winning MLB.com At the Ballpark app for iPhone and Android smartphones.
This year's update includes a complete app redesign for iOS 7, a new official MapQuest partnership integration, and iBeacon technology support for 20 MLB stadiums.
The first three exhibitions played at regular-season ballparks will start with the Rangers against the Quintana Roo Tigers of the Triple-A Mexican League at 8:05 p.m. ET at newly named Globe Life Park in Arlington. Tanner Scheppers, just named the Rangers' Opening Day starter, is scheduled to make his last preparation outing in this exhibition.
Also coming on Thursday night is a pair of regional rivalries, exhibition-style: Angels at Dodgers at 10:10 p.m., and A's at Giants at 10:15 p.m.
MLBAM debuted this fully integrated level of locally focused technology four years ago, following two years of extensive development, and has remained at the forefront of personalizing the mobile in-venue experience for fans of every team. Last season, At the Ballpark won for Best Sports Technology at the Sports Business Awards.
At the Ballpark has pioneered this initiative with a league-wide foundation of ballpark features and customization and expansion features by team, including exclusive video highlights, mobile food, beverage and official merchandise ordering, seat and experience upgrade capabilities, MyTickets Mobile for in-app purchase, delivery and storage of every ticket sold and content integration with ballpark video screens.
For the first time, MapQuest-powered mapping and directions will be delivered in At the Ballpark through an exclusive app-to-app experience. This integration will make it easier to plan your gameday travel throughout the season.
As part of its official partnership with MLBAM, MapQuest also created custom-branded MLB team experiences, available soon within its iOS and Android apps, and is developing original MLB content to enhance local experiences. MapQuest and MLBAM also are co-creating an original video series, expected to debut in May.
MLBAM has completed its widespread installation to equip 20 ballparks with iBeacon, a technology introduced with iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and geofencing for micro-location awareness. Dozens of iBeacons have been affixed in each ballpark over the past two months. Beginning with each club's respective home opener, fans with At the Ballpark on their iPhone (iOS 7 required) will be able to use the technology to automatically check in to every game and receive exclusive offers. Check-in will be available beginning four hours prior to the scheduled first pitch. Additional ballparks will have iBeacon installed this spring, and new iBeacon features are being developed by MLBAM and will be released later this season.
In addition to the previously announced installs at Petco Park and Dodger Stadium, which in February became the first sports venues in the world to permanently equip this technology, iBeacon will be available at the ballparks of the following clubs: Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, D-backs, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Mets, A's, Orioles, Phillies, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Twins and White Sox.
Here is a rundown of At the Ballpark features for 2014:
• MyTickets Mobile for delivery and storage of all MLB tickets sold (select clubs only)
• Upload and share personal photos from ballpark visits, dating back to 2005
• View team stats and watch highlights from games attended
• Ballpark and player entrance music listings
• Social media clubhouse, including social rewards for select clubs
• Complete tickets section, featuring special offers by club
• Seat and experience upgrade functionality (select clubs)
• Passbook integration for digital ticket delivery and storage (select clubs)
• Check-in for ballpark offers and rewards
• Interactive concourse maps and directory
• Customize to feature a designated favorite MLB ballpark
• Team schedule, ticket information and sales and promotional event listings
• Access to food and beverage ordering available at select parks (select clubs)
• Directions and parking information
• A to Z Guides for every ballpark
• My Journal: Personalized check-in history for ballparks visited
At the Ballpark is part of a suite of must-have apps for your mobile device. MLB.com At Bat, the most popular sports app of all-time, has been in regular use throughout Spring Training and is pending an update in a matter of hours, so be on the lookout. Also look for details on the return of MLB.com Beat the Streak presented by Dunkin' Donuts, the companion app that could help you win $5.6 million. Go to MLB.com/mobile for more information.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.