Detroit — Declining attendance is a significant problem throughout much of Major League Baseball, so it's not entirely fair to single out the Tigers.
But, well, we will.
That's because the numbers are pretty darn alarming in the early going down at Comerica Park, where the rebuild has entered its third season — creating impatience and, more important, apathy among Tigers fans who packed the park to the tune of 3 million four times between 2007-13, and almost a fifth time in 2014.
Through 26 home games, the Tigers are averaging 16,700 fans, which is the fifth-worst average in Major League Baseball — ahead of only the two teams in Florida, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
That puts the Tigers on pace to draw 1,352,700 over the course of the season, which would be even worse than their historically awful 2003 season. It would be their worst season attendance since 1996, when they drew 1,168,610 at old Tiger Stadium.
Now, those numbers aren't likely to completely hold up. For starters, weather has been a problem. There have been few sunshiny (figuratively or literally) days at Comerica Park this season. When school's out, the ballpark should see a spike — even if the team's collective batting average doesn't.
That said, there clearly is some concern among the Tigers' ticket sellers, prompting the team to launch a June flash sale that's offering tickets for as low as $9, with no added-on fees, for every game that month. Tickets in the lower bowl will start at $14. Some tickets can be had for as much as 60% of the regular price.
The sale doesn't last long; it began Friday and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
There are 15 games in Detroit in June, with series against the Rays, Twins, Indians, Rangers and Nationals. Several of the games include fan giveaways. There's also the 35th-anniversary celebration of the 1984 World Series-champion Tigers, on June 29.
The Tigers' season attendance has declined each of the last five years. They drew 1,856,970 last season, down from 2,321,599 the year before — both 98-loss seasons. The Tigers are 21-32 entering Friday night's game in Atlanta, putting them on pace for a third consecutive 98-loss season. And given the trade deadline still is two months away, and the Tigers could be shopping their ace, Matt Boyd, and their closer, Shane Greene, as well as Nick Castellanos, 100 losses could be in the cards for the first time since '03.
The Tigers sold out Opening Day, but have had just two crowds over 20,000 since. In an eye-opener, they drew just 15,940 for former Tigers ace Justin Verlander's start for the Astros on May 15.
Drawing only slightly better than the Tigers are their American League Central brethren. The White Sox (18,376), Indians (17,639) and Royals (16,831) are in the three spots directly ahead of the Tigers. The Twins (22,079), off to a surprising start and threatening to run away with the division, only are drawing 22,079, 19th-best in the major leagues.
The Dodgers lead MLB in attendance, averaging 46,893, followed by the Cardinals (41,933), Yankees (39,920), Cubs (36,576) and Angels (36,020).