Of sports bars, sports bar horror stories, and sports bar apps

One of these crazy things could put you in a place where if everybody doesn't know your name, they at least will be rooting for your team. - Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

There really is an app for everything, including a new app you can use to find app(etizer)s at a sports bar that's showing the games you want to see with fans you won't mind hanging out with.

The concept of sports bars has evolved a great deal in a relatively short time. It wasn't long ago that any place that served chicken wings and had a single television was considered a sports bar. Good luck to you as a patron getting the game you wanted to see on that television. Your server may or may not have known how to change the channel and your fellow customers might not have wanted the channel changed. Often, you were fortunate if it was on any kind of sporting event at all and not a re-run of one of the Law & Order franchises.

Things have changed and people's expectations have been raised. Now, with more satellite dishes than NASA (these days anyway), diverse menus featuring barbecued gluten-free sushi quesadillas and an average of approximately one million televisions carrying different sports from all over the world, a true sports bar is a pretty sophisticated operation.

Still, perils and pitfalls exist in trying to find one that ideally suit your needs and wants. I'm still personally scarred from trying to find a good place in downtown Tampa to watch the first game of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Of course, Hattrick's was option A, but Hattrick's is not the biggest place and if you don't get there early, you're out of luck. Unbelievably, the place across the street from the Tampa Bay Times Forum, which was known as Andreychuk's at the time, wasn't even open (and there was a concert, Alicia Keys, that night).I wound up at Bennigan's at Channelside (remember those two things?) where I had to beg for it to be put on one television and where something leaked on me from the ceiling all night long. More recently, a friend told me about trying to watch her beloved Florida State Seminoles with a group of 10 people at their usual haunt... where they were suddenly swarmed at a ratio of 8/1 by Red Sox fans who were there to watch game 6 of the ALCS.

So what to do? How do we navigate this glorious landscape of jalapeno mozzarella bombers, chili dipped onion rings and giant tankards of two-for-one beer specials that's mined with replays of Malaysian table soccer, the inevitable and unfortunate launch of the ESPN Catchphrase channel and other horrors too horrific to contemplate? Well, if you're one of the rare breed of people who have one of those portable telephones that do stuff besides make telephone calls, the folks at the SportsBee Network (a local company, based in St. Petersburg) have developed an app (short for "application", not "appetizer") have developed something to help you out:

SportsBee Network, Inc. is thrilled to announce the launch of SportsBee, a unique mobile app designed exclusively for sports fans who are looking for the right bar, in the right place, to watch their games and show support for their favorite teams.

Where do you want to watch? Who do you want to watch?

As the only social utility focused on sports and location-based (GPS) search functionality, SportsBee is introducing a fun, new way to watch games and share experiences with friends & fellow fans.

SportsBee was precisely created to serve existing consumer behavior and improve the common experience. Since millions of sports fans are currently going out to bars to watch games every day, SportsBee recognizes an important opportunity to serve this valuable audience.

"The idea sprung from a basic use case-where should I go to watch my teams when I'm traveling? This is the utility side," states Michael Aguis, CEO & co-founder of SportsBee. "However, as we developed the application, we realized a far larger opportunity around social sharing & community, giving sports fans a cool tool to connect with each other around the passion for their favorite teams."

Search by location. Search by sport. Search by team.

Launching with a proprietary database featuring nearly 10,000 sports bar locations nationwide, SportsBee has identified and showcases select establishments according to specific qualifications, including:

official TV sports packages to ensure availability of game broadcasts
team affiliations to match bars with fans rooting for their sports teams, such as club & alumni groups
number of check-ins, current and historical, to measure fan attendance
number of TVs on the premises to ensure that everyone has a good seat
locations based on GPS, city & state, zip, or proximity to nearby major sports stadiums.

Check-ins make a difference

Another unique feature of the SportsBee app is that user check-ins are weighted by a proprietary algorithm to measure popularity.

Specifically, every user check-in represents support for a particular team and sport, and these actions are calculated to influence a bar's team affiliations.

Check-ins represent a particular user engagement that make bar data more accurate, showing traffic and giving users the power to define a bar.

Sports bars are meant to be social

According to a recent report by Adweek, "For sports fans, nothing beats the big screen, with 94 percent of fans watching sports on TV." Of course, not everyone has a big screen at home or pays for monthly subscription sports packages, and most fans want to share the viewing experience with others.

Sports bars are in the business of catering to fans looking for a place to watch, and SportsBee wants to make sure everyone has the best experience.

No matter what city you're in or traveling to, SportsBee brings fans together by helping them find each other at the best sports bars to watch their games.

- From an official press release by SportsBee Network Inc.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The only app I've ever downloaded is Tetris and I play that sucker like it's still 1985. This is not an endorsement of the product, merely an attempt to inform people of its' existence. It's currently only available for iPhone users (IOS) but there's more information available at the company's website: http://www.sportsbee.com or if you're ready to go ahead and download the app, you can do so via iTunes: If you get it, feel free to post in the comments and tell us how it works. Also, if you have your own sports bar horror stories, share those too, because that could be funny.

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