Major League Baseball is getting in touch with its feminine side in hopes of expanding its fan base.
Nine teams are rolling out the red carpet for female fans and are planning to hold "Ladies Night" promotions this season, according to Ad Week. The Atlanta Braves is a case in point. The team's "Girls Night Out at Tuner Field" will be held May 1. For $45 a ticket, fans can attend a pre-game party in right field featuring music from 80s cover band Moby Dick. Attendees will receive a feather boa, a silver Alex and Ani Braves logo bracelet, along with a ticket to the game.
The Seattle Mariners are holding two girls nights out on May 8 and Aug. 7. Tickets for the events, which the Mariners describe as "the perfect price for the perfect night out for any girl," are $35 or $40 depending on seating.
Baseball's move makes sense from a business perspective. However, teams have to be careful not to patronize women or alienate their current customers, Mike Sundet, director of sports and entertainment for IPG's Momentum Worldwide told Ad Week. A 2014 Scarborough survey found that 14.2 million adult women attended MLB games. That's up from 2009, when the same survey showed 13.4 million female fans attended a game. About 50 percent of girls have played baseball or softball at some point.
Kellogg (K), the world's largest cereal maker, and consumer products maker Church & Dwight (CD) are partnering with baseball on promotions designed to target women and families. The league also sells an extensive array of products geared toward women, including apparel from L'Brands' (LB) Victoria's Secret and Alyssa Milano's Touch.
"I am thrilled that MLB is targeting women fans, and it is good business as they have been in the stands and watching games on TV for generations," said Leila Dunbar, an appraiser of sports and pop culture memorabilia who often appears on "The Antiques Roadshow." "My mom and her sisters watched Ted Williams, my friends and I watched Carlton Fisk hit his walk-off homer in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series and this generation of Fenway fans enjoys Big Poppy!"
Public relations executive Kelli Gail has been a rabid baseball fan all her life and attended the game in 1995 when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played, a feat many fans thought would never happen. Despite her fan bona fides, Gail said men are sometimes surprised by her knowledge of the game.
"I don't know that I need to be marketed to at the game," she said.
The fuss that baseball is paying more to its female customers amuses Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, a lifelong fan.
"Ladies Night somehow sounds funny though, connoting a time past when women would be wearing hats like men did back in the day," she wrote in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. "But the idea is a good one in general because it's nice for women to go to places like a ballpark together and enjoy the same camaraderie as men do going to sporting events."