Tiger's ticket sales fall, Ilitch still spending

The division-leading Detroit Tigers have a large-market payroll with midsize market attendance…

Georgia (Jul 20, 2009) — The division-leading Detroit Tigers have a large-market payroll with midsize market attendance that's off 22 percent from last year, something the team said it was prepared for but has baseball insiders speculating about the team's long-term financial health. And to the delight of fans, if not economists, the team's owner is willing to spend even more to return to the World Series — even if it's a money-losing endeavor … “The attendance decline is out of step with the rest of the league. Attendance is down about 5 percent leaguewide, so the Tigers' 20 percent decline is not good,” said J.C. Bradbury, an economist and associate professor at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta . He's the author of The Baseball Economist and operates the baseball site Sabernomics.com … Continuing to win should help the team financially, as could adding a player through trades, said Bradbury, The Baseball Economist author. “Adding a good player to an already-good team could be the smarter financial move than cutting payroll and incurring losses. If the Tigers make it to the post-season then they will receive a portion of post-season gate revenue (40 percent for mandatory games and 100 percent for ‘if necessary' games) that could add to the team's coffers.” But trades have a problematic side because of the credit market these days, and can reveal something about the team's finances. “Even if the owner sees a business opportunity that will pay off down the road (like acquiring an All-Star veteran) unless he has cash on hand, he may not be able to make the deal,” Bradbury said. “If (Ilitch) is talking about pursuing such a player, then he probably feels that his cash situation is good enough to make such a deal.” ( Also: Cain's Business: Tigers see steep drop in ticket sales , MLive.com .)


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