Detroit -- As the Tigers limp toward their worst record -- and, subsequently, worst attendance mark -- in more than a decade, the ballclub has started the grueling process of trying to get season-ticket holders to re-up for 2018.
Season-ticket renewal correspondence recently starting going out, and most of the prices for full-season plans are staying the same as 2017.
Only a few sections will see increases, all of them modest; one section will see a decrease, again modest.
The other 16 sections will hold the line, with the same price as 2017.
Seeing increases for 2018 will be the prime sections, with on-deck circle going from $6,639 to $6,780, Tiger Den from $5,791 to $5,932 and lower infield box from $4,290 to $4,431.
Seeing a decrease for 2018 will be lower baseline box, going from $2,374 to $2,064.
Everything else remains unchanged, for the fans who buy the full, 81-game schedule.
The Tigers' 2018 home schedule will feature series with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, as well as visits from nearby teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. That trumps the NL West interleague schedule of 2017, which could explain the slight increases in three of the sections. Cubs and Cardinals games are high draws in Detroit, even during the week.
That said, the Tigers figure to be a very poor team in 2018, as they go through rebuilding -- having recently traded Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. More trades (Ian Kinsler? Jose Iglesias?) could follow this offseason, as general manager Al Avila looks to shift the organization from a high-priced ballclub to one more in line with the market, and one that builds its core from within. The trades brought several prospects who already are ranked in the Tigers' top 15.
The process is expected to be deliberate, and painful -- especially for the fans.
More: Tigers 2018 schedule
That's why Avila and Tigers business czar Duane McLean tried to get out in front of the issue with fans, sending a co-signed letter to season-ticket holders last month explaining that a rebuild was under way, and there would be difficult times before things get better. They asked the fans to be patient, and stick with the team through thick and thin.
Shortly after the letter went out, the Tigers traded Upton to the Los Angeles Angels and, later that day, Verlander to the Houston Astros.
Next season figures to be a tough sell, as was 2017 -- with Tigers' full season-ticket sales at about half what they were at their peak, nearly a decade ago. Overall attendance this season is under 30,000 for the first time since 2005, the year before the Tigers made the World Series and went to the playoffs five times in nine seasons.
The Tigers are 60-86 this season, and will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Single-game ticket prices aren’t expected to be released until early next year, and will be subject to dynamic pricing.