When the Tigers played at home in April and May, and even into June, weather tended to be cool, wet, or both. In other words, not inviting. Not for baseball.
Then came July’s trades. And a formal farewell to any realistic playoff chance in 2015 was sealed.
Still, the customers turned out at Comerica Park. Again in 2015, they showed up. Or, more significantly, they bought tickets, which is why the Tigers said goodbye Sunday to their 2015 home schedule at Comerica Park after having rolled up the sixth-highest attendance in 115 seasons of big league baseball in Detroit.
The Tigers drew 33,517 in Sunday’s finale, pushing their season total to 2,726,048.
It edged the previous sixth-highest attendance season, the world championship year of 1984, when the team played at Tiger Stadium and pulled 2,704,794.
Ironically, the six years of heaviest attendance in Detroit have all been recorded in the past eight seasons, and all at Comerica, where ballpark capacity is nearly 10,000 seats fewer than existed at Tiger Stadium.
Tigers attendance is underpinned by season-ticket sales. The team had nearly 20,000 season-ticket equivalencies in 2015, which allowed daily attendance to hold firm, even when Michigan’s spring was unusually cool and wet, and even as September became the team’s first September since 2010 that the Tigers were not seriously involved in a playoff chase.
Next season figures to be a heavier challenge for the Tigers’ business office. Matching this year’s season-ticket orders could be a more difficult sales pitch in the wake of this year’s presumed last-place finish. Repeat success there likely depends upon offseason player acquisitions that most directly influence fans’ appetites for season seats.
But a fairly bullet-proof base tends to ensure the Tigers stand at least a chance in 2016 to flirt again with their new gold standard for box-office bliss: the 3 million mark, which was reached for the first time in 2007.
The Tigers are fifth in the American League and ninth among 30 big-league clubs in 2015 attendance.
Downtown Detroit’s resurgence, in tandem with the reality that Comerica Park has become a destination spot for baseball and for entertainment before and after games, has made a Tigers game more of a target for those who, regardless of their passion for baseball, want a night at Comerica, with all its flavors, to become part of their spring, summer — and, in a winning season — autumn social calendar.