The Detroit Tigers have a clear disadvantage, and it is not a small market versus big market argument. The simple fact here is the Tigers were so bad during the 1990’s that they ruined at least one, if not two, entire generations of Detroit baseball fans.
They were so bad year in and year out that a good percentage of the Tigers fan base simply tuned them out. While a 2006 trip to the World Series reengaged a lot of these fans, the Tigers have yet to win the American League Central Division, and after yet another heartbreak loss in a one game playoff to the Minnesota Twins, ticket sales are down again.
So far in 2010 they have sold around 70% of their available tickets, but season ticket sales from 2008 to 2009 were down some 20%, and the average attendance is down as well.
On top of all that the Tigers are in Michigan were the local economy as been in the toilet since around mid 2005. It only got worse in recently and it seems that many local fans simply do not have the money to come out and enjoy Tigers baseball live. That is despite their very reasonable average ticket price of 27 dollars.
Owner Mike Illitch has been using his 1.5 billion dollar net worth to fund this team like it operated in a big baseball market. This year their payroll is up 7% mostly due to the signing of OF Johnny Damon, and a new contract for Ace Justin Verlander.
To be fair the Tigers have several large contracts that are really dead money. While they have gotten off to a fast start in 2010 and sit 23-17 at the 40 game mark, there does not seem to be nay indications that they can keep up that pace.
While Illitch has been willing to spend big dollars on the payroll, in recent season he has begun to tighten the purse strings a little, and that has forced several tough decisions on which players to bring back, and which positions to turn over to prospects from within the organization.
So far in 201 those prospects and rookies have over achieved. If they continue to do so this could be a very good baseball team, but we have to think at some point these rookies will return to earth.
With all that being said, here is a look at the 2010 Detroit Tigers payroll numbers:
• Total Payroll: 122,864,928
• Average Salary: 4,550,553
• Median Salary: 1,500,000
It is important to note that the Tigers will pick up most of the 10 million dollar salary of SP Nate Robertson who is currently playing for the Florida Marlins.
Now a look at how that money breaks down per player:
Payroll numbers compiled by USA Today
- Detroit tigers news and notes
- 2010 MLB Payroll Rankings
- The Business of Major League Baseball
- MTR Baseball.com
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