The Detroit Tigers are expected to be one of the better teams in the American League this season. But in terms of franchise value among major league teams, the Tigers lurk near the bottom of the pack.
Forbes magazine released its list of team values last week, with the Tigers valued at $385 million. That ranks them 21st among major league franchises. The team's financial worth increased from the previous year, however, when it was ranked 22nd at $375 million.
The three percent increase in value was one of the lowest among the 30 MLB franchises, tied with the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays. Only the Seattle Mariners (two percent increase), Cleveland Indians (10 percent decrease) and New York Mets (13 percent decrease) were worse.
A primary reason for the Tigers' lower value was their negative operating income of $29 million. That was easily the worst operating loss in baseball, far more than the New York Mets ' $6 million loss. The third-highest payroll in the sport was largely responsible for that loss. Last year, the team had a $134 million payroll, yet finished 81-81 on the season.
Forbes also cited lower ticket revenues (from $65 million to $54 million) and attendance (a four percent drop) as contributing toward the deficit. The Tigers did cut ticket prices 14 percent, however.
One suggestion the magazine offers as an influx of revenue is a regional sports channel. But that's probably truly feasible only if Mike Ilitch were to end up buying the Detroit Pistons.
Which team saw a big increase in value? The Texas Rangers, whose worth increased 25 percent to $561 million, thanks to an ownership change and a lucrative new TV deal. The Minnesota Twins increased 21 percent, as you might expect with the opening of Target Field last season.
But of course, no team operates in the same universe as the New York Yankees. The Yankees were valued at $1.7 billion, a six percent increase from the previous year. That's also almost twice the value of the next closest team, the Boston Red Sox, valued at $912 million.