I don't listen to local sports talk radio much anymore - what's left of it, that is; podcasts get the majority of my attention - but while driving around yesterday, I caught an interesting, but all too brief, discussion between Valenti and Foster on 97.1 about the ticket situation at Comerica Park.
Mike said that he heard season ticket sales for the Tigers were around 12,000 this year. Terry basically corroborated, saying the number he heard was 13,000. Compare that to last year, when the Tigers sold roughly 27,000 season tickets (and were faced with cutting off sales, at one point).
That led to this question being posed: Is this a result of the crumbling economy (with Michigan probably suffering from the decline more than any other state) or disappointment in the Tigers' performance last season?
The easy answer is probably that both factors caused this predicament. It's certainly not an either-or situation.
But one likely weighs more heavily than the other. Obviously, this region is struggling badly. Not a week goes by when I don't have a conversation with someone worried about losing his or her job. And we likely all know someone who's felt the hammer. People are cutting back on nearly every kind of expense these days. So how can they justify shelling out cash for season tickets, especially when you're just not sure how well the Tigers will play?
And there is definitely some anger out there toward this team. You could feel it throughout the offseason. Maybe it's subsided a bit, with Spring Training beginning, and the promise of a new season sparkling. But with the way they played last year, the Tigers let their fans down in a big way. People did not spend their money to see a last-place finish. Some of them also may have put down cash that they otherwise wouldn't have, because they believed this would be, at the very least, a playoff team. (But we all know the expectations were higher than that.)
Regardless of how last season ended, maybe those fans took their one shot and they wouldn't have come back this year. So maybe ticket sales were going to be down anyway. They were certainly going to decrease because of the economy.
So how do you see it? And if you're a current or former season ticket holder, what weighed into your decision? How big a role is money playing for you versus uncertainty over how the Tigers will do this season?