Bronx sports facilities are boosting business with a new app and website, CatchCorner by Sports Illustrated, that allows customers to reserve court times by the hour — just like making a dinner reservation.
The 12-court Stadium Tennis Center at Mill Pond Park at Exterior Street is one Bronx business that adopted CatchCorner and is thrilled with the results.
“We’re big fans,” owner Joel Kassan told the Bronx Times.
He said the app has increased bookings at the distinctive air-domed sports facility by about 23%.
CatchCorner was launched in New York about seven months ago by brother-and-sister developers Jonathan Azouri, 28, who lives in Toronto where the business is based, and Maya Azouri, 27, who lives in Manhattan. The siblings were recently named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
Jonathan Azouri said in an interview with the Bronx Times that the app has about 30,000 users in the New York area, and more than 60 facilities are set to be added.
The app was designed to identify and maximize use of open space at sports complexes as well as churches, schools and community centers.
“If there’s unused space, this is the app to increase the usability of that space,” said Azouri, who compared the app to Open Table for restaurant reservations.
The app shows users a one-week window of available locations, rates and times for their chosen sport, as well as alerts for in-demand slots that open up due to cancellations.
Several Bronx business owners — with more to come — have become believers in the new technology.
Kassan told the Bronx Times that he and business partner Mike Del Prete initially declined to the opportunity to list the Stadium Tennis Center on CatchCorner. Front desk staff were already busy juggling emails, phone calls, credit cards and in-person requests for reservations, and they didn’t want to overwhelm staff with a new system.
But a visit from Maya Azouri made all the difference. Kassan and Del Prete became convinced that it was a “good company with good people behind it.” So after their initial “no,” they got on board.
“The implementation team is outstanding,” said Kassan.
Before long, he found that bookings were increasing and front desk staff had more time to provide better in-person customer service. He estimated that the app reduced the front desk staff workload by 25%.
Kassan noted that customers young and old — from the city and further out — are now using CatchCorner to reserve tennis and pickleball times.
“I can’t imagine going back,” he said.
Isaias Rivera, owner of the Zerega Indoor Sports Complex in Unionport, also lists on CatchCorner and told the Bronx Times that the app was a “shot of adrenaline” for his business. He estimated a 30% increase in bookings.
Rivera said the complex, which he has owned for four years, consists of about 10,000 square feet of courts for volleyball, badminton, pickleball and more, plus basketball courts and batting cages in the warmer months.
While Rivera admitted he’s “not a tech-savvy guy” and is not one to adopt the latest app trends, he has seen CatchCorner increase business and bring people together — especially those who have moved outside the city.
Many of his customers, he said, drive in from Long Island and even upstate, but have longstanding connections to the complex, which has been in the neighborhood since 1976.
People living nearby don’t have as much need for advance reservations, Rivera said. But with customers living further away now able to book online, he has developed a consistent base of “legacy” customers — many of whom frequented the facility back in the day.
Rivera cherishes those connections.
“It reunited a lot of people in the community who haven’t seen each other in decades,” he said.
For Jonathan Azouri, who has a background in information systems and business, the combination of tech and sports has people, health and community at its core.
“What we’re also providing is people space in order to move and get active, and there’s obviously so many different benefits of that,” said Azouri.
This story was updated at 5:55 p.m. to clarify when the app was launched in New York.
Reach Emily Swanson at [email protected] or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes