MLB virtual ballpark strike a chord with fans


MLB first regular game and virtual ballpark Image: MLB

The Los Angeles Angels-Tampa Bay Rays first Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season game held at the Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida (US) on September 20th in which the Rays beat the Angels 6-2 featured MLB’s “next digital game-viewing experience, a virtual ballpark”.

‘SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL’ stated that it is the “first time the technology was used in an MLB game” – a “digital, 3D landscape of a ballpark synced with MLB’s Gameday 3D”. The fans thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

New York (US)-based the Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization. One of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, the MLB comprises 30 teams divided equally between the National League and the American League, with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

The Los Angeles Angels are an American professional baseball team based in the Greater Los Angeles area. The Angels compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League West division. Since 1966, the team has played its home games at the 45,050-capacity Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.

The Tampa Bay Rays are an American professional baseball team based in the Tampa Bay area. The Rays compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League East division. Since its inception, the team’s home ballpark has been the Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The 42,735-capacity Tropicana Field is a multipurpose domed stadium located in St. Petersburg, Florida, United States. The stadium has been the ballpark of the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball (MLB) since the team’s inaugural season in 1998.

The 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) season began on March 30th, with the regular season planned to end on October 1st.

Earlier, ‘Major League Baseball’ stated on September 15th that the Major League Baseball’s interactive, virtual ballpark will stream its first-ever regular season game on September 20th when the Tampa Bay Rays will host the Los Angeles Angels live from the Tropicana Field.

Syncing with Gameday 3D for this first test, fans from anywhere in the world logged into the virtual ballpark can watch a three-dimensional representation of the game and interact with each other as it’s being played.

‘Major League Baseball’ further stated that in addition to watching the game up close from previously impossible angles, fans can talk with each other using spatial audio, explore the virtual ballpark to play trivia games and participate in a scavenger hunt. Fans can also watch the traditional broadcast on the digital videoboards of the virtual ballpark. This experience is available on any Internet-connected personal device including computers, tablets and smartphones.

Commented Kenny Gersh, MLB Executive Vice-President, Media and Business Development, “With the virtual ballpark, we want to continue to give our fans options to experience the game they love in unique ways and test the boundaries of baseball content delivery. Gameday 3D allows us to experiment even more within the virtual ballpark and should allow our fans to further immerse themselves into the experience of a game. Thanks to the Rays and Angels supporting this initiative, we can watch Major League Baseball in a format unlike any other.”

Added Bill Walsh, Rays Chief Business Officer, “The Rays are always looking for new ways to engage with the fans through technology. In collaboration with the MLB and the Angels, we’re excited to be able to offer fans this unique and immersive experience at the forefront of innovation in sports technology.”

Gameday 3D transports fans into a fully immersive three-dimensional baseball environment, offering a unique opportunity to experience the action live, from any angle in the ballpark. The MLB launched Gameday 3D earlier this season to provide fans with an alternate viewing experience of select games online. The first-of-its-kind immersive animation leverages the industry’s most advanced tracking data and the latest computer vision technology.

By utilizing the same Sony Hawk-Eye cameras in each Major League ballpark that provide Statcast data, the Gameday 3D incorporates the position and orientation of each player and then generates a 3D recreation of the game in realtime.

The MLB virtual ballpark debuted with a special online watch party for the MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game presented by Corona on July 8th and was developed in collaboration with Improbable, a London-based technology firm that develops virtual spaces to connect brands with consumers in a new digital landscape.

Improbable can enable enhanced social interaction in the virtual spaces it helps develop through its M² network and online ecosystem powered by its own Morpheus technology. Providing a sense of presence inside the virtual spaces, users on Improbable’s networks can interact with each other in the same online place at the same time from anywhere in the world in an ultimate lag-free experience.

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