The 2019 Season has come and gone and I didn't attend one Tigers game for an entire season. Its the first time that has happened since I graduated college in 1999. I've traveled around the country to see 20 different baseball stadiums and most of the time the Tigers were the away team in those games. For a couple seasons in 2011 & 2012, I had partial season tickets. But last year...Not. One. Game. I had plans to go to several games. Once, a bunch of people from work got together and headed downtown, we were tailgating at Bookie's and were about to start making our way over to the Stadium to buy SRO tickets, but we looked at the score and the Tigs were already losing 5-0 to the Yankees in the first inning. There were other times when I was supposed to go and similar things happened (more on these later). I'm not bragging. In fact, its pretty sad. And I'm not the only one, Tigers attendance has dropped every year since peaking in 2013 at almost 3.1 Million, last year it was down to less than half of that - 1.5 Million. I want to go back to Tigers games, I feel like something is missing in my summer (and quite frankly, in my life), but I could use some more reasons to go. Here are 5 things the Tigers could do to get me back in the stadium for the upcoming season.
1) Use technology and the booming downtown area to draw fans.
A couple years ago, I wrote a fanpost saying the Tigers should drop ticket prices. I was met with comments like "you don't know what you're talking about...this is a business". The Tigers didn't drop their ticket prices and...well....they had 1.5 Million fans last year. If you have a winning team, people will come no matter the cost. But...if you have a losing team...not so much. Getting people into the stadium means not just revenue from ticket costs, but also from concessions etc. If the team is losing, people want to feel like they are getting a deal. And you can get a deal, if you go with Stubhub. I don't understand why the Tigers are just letting Stubhub monopolize the secondary ticket market. Especially when they have the technology to compete and beat them. And the fees on Stubhub are so high that the deals aren't as good as what people think. The Tigers did a season ticket deal where you could wait till right before a game started and then pick some of the best seats available for a bargain rate. But most people aren't going to buy season tickets for this ball club this year. Why not fill up the best available seats in the park by allowing people to improve their seats by using a TigersApp a couple hours before the game? Why are people sitting in the nosebleeds when there are quality seats available closer? There has to be a way to fill those closer unfilled/unsold seats at a discount rate. If you haven't been downtown lately, it is thriving like it hasn't in decades. The downtown area is booming. Greektown, corktown etc, there's tons of stuff to do downtown. While people are downtown, they might catch a game if they can go on an app and see that they can sit close to the action at a decent price.
2. Improve the area immediately around the ballpark
Yes the downtown area is booming. But, strangely, there isn't much to do in the immediate vicinity of the ballpark. Yes, the Elwood is still there and its usually packed to the rafters on weekends even though attendance is down and the team stinks. But, other than that, there's a lot of parking lots and not much in the way of food and entertainment. Even Cheli's is closed. It seems like with Ford Field and CoPa right next to each other, there should be a market for some family restaurants, ice cream places, and entertainment. I know its been mentioned on this site before, but a Tigers Hall of Fame makes tons of sense right now. I've been to Hall of Fames in Kansas City and Cincinnati, both are cool and it seems like for a franchise where most people are living on past success...a hall of fame would make a lot of sense.
3. Improve the Baseball experience in the park
Yes, the Tigers are going to lose again this year. Yes, the Tigers do have some fun stuff in between the innings such as Cuppy coffee etc etc etc. However, with todays breed of kid, if you want to get kids into the game, you have to make it more exciting. I hate Tom Gores. However, I think Chris Ilitch might want to check out what they're doing over at LCA. The Pistons team is hopeless (hence another reason why I hate Gores), but they are averaging about the same amount of fans as the Tigers in a sport that is no where near as popular in the Detroit area. They aren't doing it by putting out a superior product, far from it, they are making the games fun for fans. Tees for threes, cheerleaders, music, announcers etc. I know a lot of the traditionalists will hate this concept, and I'm not suggesting going to this extreme, but it seems like the baseball experience could be better if the Tigers organization made things a little more exciting in the stadium.
4. Make better roster decisions.
As I mentioned before, I had plans to go to several Tigers games last year. One of the times I looked at the starting pitchers and saw that Jordan Zimmermann was going to take the hill. On a different occasion, I saw that it was Edwin Jackson. Sorry. Not interested. I would much rather watch Tyler Alexander because I know that there is at least a little potential there then to see quite possibly the worst starting pitcher in baseball take the mound. And I know JZ makes a ton of money, but there is some young talent coming up, and he can't just eat up a roster spot because of that ridiculous salary. I'm also done with the one year rentals that are potential trade bait. The tigers have been bad for 3 years now and will be bad again next year. At the least, we need to start seeing some of these top picks and trade acquisitions to see what they can do.
5. Improve the product on the field
I have been 100% behind the rebuild. But this team needs to get better this year. It's just miserable to have gone 175-310 in the last 3 years. I'm not expecting them to contend, but they need to start building a winning culture. When the Tigers started competing in 2006, they added Pudge Rodriguez to their roster and that changed the culture. Maybe they look at who's available in the free agent market and do something similar this year. . Maybe they bring up Mize and/or Manning half way through the season if they are deemed ready. Maybe they fire Gardenhire and shake things up. I don't pretend to know the answer, but something has to change to build a culture of success for this ball club.