'At least there's baseball:' Our city turns its lonely eyes to you, Detroit Tigers

July 19, 2020, 12:22 PM

Kurt Nagl connects with a solid hit near the top of his Crain's at-bat today:

It could be worse, though. At least there's baseball.

(Graphic: Fox Sports Detroit)

Thirty home games that start July 27 are a gift of sorts "not only for deprived sports fans, but for the Ilitch sports and entertainment empire," Nagl writes about the "sign of life for Detroit sports."

The Tigers are to start a shortened, 60-game season in Cincinnati on July 24 before their Comerica Park home opener against Kansas City on July 27.

The rescheduled Opening Day will take place four months after the 2020 season was supposed to start and will look nothing like the holiday-style bash that usually signifies the return of baseball in Detroit.

Playing just 30 home games in an empty ballpark will cost the Tigers tens of millions of dollars at the gate. ... [But] just being allowed to play means the Tigers can make good on some of their obligation to Fox Sports Detroit, the regional sports network that pays the team an estimated $50 million annually to air its games. ...

[It] also gives the Tigers opportunity to satisfy sponsor deals. Signage from major partners ... will be visible to TV viewers on scoreboards, behind home plate, along outfield walls and superimposed on screens. ...

"The viewership's going to be very good, which will be great for Fox Sports, and it'll be great for the Tigers, just their brand in general, to be out in front of the public," said Michael Dietz, president of Farmington Hills-based Dietz Trott Sports & Entertainment Management.

Crain's also notes that the ballclub gains "a big-time cost savings, particularly in player salaries — its largest expense."

Because only 37 percent of the normal season will be played, players will earn just 37 percent of their usual yearly salaries.

For the Tigers, that means paying out 37 percent of its $100 million payroll in 2020.

The roughly nine-week regular season ends Sept. 27, exactly two weeks after the Detroit Lions start at home against the Chicago Bears. 


Tigers prepare for a semi-season with danger on the schedule, July 7

Read more:  Crain's Detroit Business

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