Changing Gears
4:39 pm
Thu June 16, 2011

The Verlander Effect: What do you spend at the stadium?

Inside today’s New York Times, you’ll find my story on Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander.

I was on hand Tuesday night when Verlander nearly pitched the third no-hitter of his career.

He wound up with a two-hit game against the Cleveland Indians, in a performance that baseball scribes say was one of the best of the year.

And we discovered, there is an economic impact for Detroit every time he walks on the mound.

Call it the Verlander Effect.

Verlander attracted 28,128 fans to Tuesday night’s game — the latest proof that attendance when Verlander pitches goes up by more than 5,000 (5,137 to be precise). The fan count at a Verlander appearance averages 26,981; the Tigers are averaging 21,844 on nights when he doesn’t.

That extra 5,137 people adds up to a lot of revenue for the Tigers and by extension, the businesses around Comerica Park and in Detroit.

(To be sure, Verlander hasn’t come close to drawing the crowds that Mark “The Bird” Fidrych attracted during one golden summer 35 years ago. According to Sports Illustrated, Fidrych helped drew an additional 400,000 fans to Tiger Stadium in 1976, compared with the Tigers’ attendance the year before.)

Even so, the extra fans Verlander is drawing are spending at a time when ticket and souvenir prices are much higher than in Fidrych’s day.

Do today’s fans spend $50 apiece at a game? $100? More?

For example, those replica jerseys in the Tiger Shop with Verlander’s name on the back go for $135. T-shirts are $28. Autographed pictures and balls cost even more. Parking near the ballpark costs anywhere from $6.25 to $25. And then, you have to eat, of course.

Steve McGookin, who writes Muck Rack Daily (@muckrack on Twitter), says the costs can vary. Many teams, including the Tigers, offer special deals on family days and for other promotions.

“There are still good ticket price deals out there,” McGookin tweeted us. “It’s ‘discretionary spending’ — food and merchandise — that drives up a fan’s ‘cost.’”

So tell us: what do you spend when you go see the Tigers, or the Indians, or the White Sox or Cubs? Do you set a budget or just spend what you feel like? And, do you get your money’s worth?

You can leave your comments here, or over at our Changing Gears website.