The Detroit News' John Niyo and Chris McCosky discuss the 2018 Tigers. Detroit News
Detroit — With the Tigers likely to lose a whole lot on the field in 2018, the box office already is feeling the pain.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of tickets still remain for what for years has been the toughest get, Opening Day — five days after the team started selling individual games.
A search for Opening Day tickets at 7 p.m. Thursday showed you can get seats in all 20 sections of the ballpark, and multiple seats together in 12 sections of the balpark.
In some sections, you actually still can get 20 tickets together in the same row.
"We're pretty scared," said Brian Posey, president and CEO of Okemos-based The Ticket Machine, a mid-Michigan broker. "If you can't sell out Opening Day, that could make for a long season."
The Tigers still could sell out Opening Day, but it's alarming that so many options remain available when in recent years, Opening Day would sell out in an hour or two.
In 2012, Opening Day tickets sold out in 45 minutes.
The Tigers are in full rebuild mode, having traded stars Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler, and are a 1,000-1 bet to win the World Series, according to at least one Las Vegas oddsmaker.
Posey said there are other factors that are playing in to the lagging sales besides just the quality of the team.
For starters, he said, the opponent isn't a marquee one — it's the Pirates, another rebuilding team who this offseason have traded stars Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. Opening Day also is on a Thursday, rather than a weekend day. It's also in March, the 29th, so weather could be a legitimate concern.
The dynamic-pricing model isn't helping, Posey said. Opening Day remains a marquee date, so ticket prices are higher, ranging from $60 (standing-room) to $180 (on-deck circle). By comparison, for Game 2 on March 31, tickets range from $12 (skyline) to $78 (on-deck circle).
But the big reason, Posey conceded, is the talent on the roster.
"The main thing," said Posey, "is we don't have nearly the team we've had."
Posey said Tigers tickets have been a massive part of his business since 2006, when the franchise's renaissance began with a trip to the World Series. From 2006-14, they made the playoffs five times.
But they haven't made the playoffs the last three years, and last summer conceded the teardown and rebuilding process was officially under way.
The Tigers front office was bracing for some struggles at the ticket window this year, which is why they got a head-start in putting individual game tickets on sale, starting last weekend. That coincided with TigerFest, which sold out only a couple days earlier, when it, in years past, it also has sold out in a a day.
Last year, the Tigers didn't put individual-game tickets on sale until early March.
Opening Day in 2017 didn't sell out until just hours before first pitch, but the team insisted that was because tickets held back for season-ticket holders, players' families and corporate sponsors weren't claimed and thus made available, late, to the public.
Reached for comment Thursday, the Tigers didn't immediately offer a comment on the lagging sales.