A place providing a close view of something, as in We lived right next door, so we had ringside seats for their quarrels. This term presumably came from boxing, where it denotes the seats just outside the boxing ring. [c. 1860]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.