Minor League Baseball, long the Genesis of innovative promotions (remember the World’s Largest Silly String Fight, legalizing marinara – nope, not a typo – and all the events centered around last summer’s eclipse?), has come up with a new one, this designed to capture the attention of the little girls in the stands.
Princess Night, the brainchild of the Norfolk (Virginia) Tides (the MiLB affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles), returns on July 29 for a third year, with a history of success behind it.
“Two years ago, we offered Tea with the Princesses,” says Heather McKeating, the Tides’ director of community relations. The event had 175 tickets – which sold out in record time, “weeks before the event.”
Local actresses and performers dressed as the princesses. McKeating’s staff “all wanted to be a part of it” as well and were all too happy to work as chaperones and helpers.
The enthusiasm for the event and its success in the community created an ah-ha moment for McKeating, who quickly realized the event needed to be enlarged to meet the demand available.
“It was reaching a whole new demographic,” she notes. “So this year, we have covered our whole picnic area to make it Dinner with the Princesses and you get a full meal with it.” And to borrow a metaphor from another sport, she adds, “We’re doing the whole nine yards – pink plates, princess napkins and tiaras for everyone.”
Whereas the original event started with tea, all kids now get a full meal. “Boys can go watch batting practice and girls can hang out on the concourse with the princesses,” says McKeating. “We tied it into our Kids’ Club Night so both parties can have fun.”
And let there be no mistake: it’s a great economic generator. “If we sell 250 tickets, that’s $8,000 right there,” says McKeating, “plus everyone that normally just comes out for the game.”
Princess Night – which, McKeating adds, some of the players are interested in and want their own children to attend – is a way to reach a new demographic. The age of most of the princesses is between three and nine, and includes many children who might not always be interested in baseball.
And even with the expanded number of ticket sales, McKeating notes, it’s still going to be popular.
“We’re going to get crushed,” she says happily. “It’s just so great.”