Detroit Tigers: Prince Fielder Deal Challenges Baseball's Best Attractions

J CookCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2012

The team that brought Prince Fielder to the Tigers, Scott Boras, Fielder's Agent, Tigers' GM, Dave Dombrowski, Owner, Mike Illitch, and Manager, Jim Leyland.
The team that brought Prince Fielder to the Tigers, Scott Boras, Fielder's Agent, Tigers' GM, Dave Dombrowski, Owner, Mike Illitch, and Manager, Jim Leyland.Jorge Lemus/Getty Images

Detroit's signing of Prince Fielder last week, at a cost of $23.7 million per year, or roughly $146,776.00 per game, may ultimately be a wash for the Tigers.

With Fielder's signing of an enormous contract, the Tigers leadership also opened the opportunity floodgate for eager Tigers fans excited to snatch up tickets at a first-chance to see the newest thoroughbred to wear the Old English D. A quick tabulation of the increase in ticket sales alone would say that the Tigers are well on there way to offsetting the deep reach Tigers owner Mike Illitch had to make into his well-lined pockets.

Tigers ticket personnel worked later than normal last week after the Fielder announcement and didn't stop into the weekend as excited fans lit up the switchboard to gobble up season tickets (h/t Detroit News). The chance to see Fielder adds a whole new market to baseball in Detroit. Lynn Henning of the Detroit News reported, "Interest has been high," Duane McLean, senior vice president for business operations for the Tigers, said Monday. "The call volumes were heavy. We were averaging about 4,000 calls into our ticket department those days when we would typically have a couple of hundred at this particular time of year."

Mike Illitch didn't earn his riches by making poor business decisions. While plenty of baseball executives may balk at the money doled out to bring fielder to Detroit, Illitch clearly knew that Fielder also meant more fans in the seats, for the Tigers and the city of Detroit, that's as sweet as Motown soul on a sunny summer afternoon.

The last time Detroit cracked the top 10 in attendance was 2008 when they finished eighth, with over 3.2 million tickets sold. Since that time, they've hovered between 12th and 15th on the list. Last year, the Tigers sold nearly 2.65 million tickets. Still a dramatic drop from 2008 when you consider they were listed 13th, and still better than 17 other teams. For a city still crawling out of economic depression that's a huge statistic. In the summertime, there really is no better place to be in Detroit than Comerica Park.

If you sign him, they will come. The Tigers did just that and it appears that their fans have responded in kind. Detroit is hoping that fans will flock to Comerica Park this season in response to a potentially lethal lineup that manager Jim Leyland has at his disposal.

Detroit will look to push its way back into the top 10 this season and beyond with smashers Miguel Cabrera, Brennan Boesch, Delmon Young, Alex Avilia and Jhonny Peralta. Throw in a healthy Victor Martinez in 2013 and the Tigers draw will be huge. 

Secretly, perhaps, other cities are jealous of the trickery Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski pulled on the baseball world last week, hooking up with Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, while three other teams were in serious contention to employ his services. The city of Detroit will have more than just the Tigers to celebrate with Fielder's signing, for a fan revival is heating up in the Motor City.

*Statistical attendance data provided by