Rumors rumbling that Tom Gores might buy the Tigers

Submitted by Stephen Y on January 19th, 2017 at 9:18 AM
Per our own Frank Beckmann on AM 760 this morning. He mentions that there have been rumblings for five or six weeks now. Here's to hoping Tom's got deep pockets to bring the Tigers back to contention.



January 19th, 2017 at 9:22 AM ^

Illitch has deep pockets. Here's to hoping he kicks Avila to the curb and brings in someone who is competent enough to bring the Tigers back into contention.

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el segundo

January 19th, 2017 at 1:06 PM ^

The estate tax is beside the point when it comes to Tigers' ownership or any sale of the franchise.

Mike Illitch does not own the Tigers in his individual capacity.  The franchise is owned and operated by the Detroit Tigers, Inc., which is a Michigan corporation with 10,000 shares.  In addition, I believe there is an entity known as "Illitch Holdings" which may own the shares in the Tigers (not to mention the Red Wings, the Fox Theatre, etc.).  Mike Illitch and his family members control these entities and receive their profits as income, but his death will not affect their ownership structure or trigger an estate tax liability arising from the baseball franchise any of the other Illitch businesses. 

If the Illitch family/entities decide to sell the Tigers, it won't be for estate tax reasons.  People as wealthy and successful as the Illitches plan ahead to avoid such situations.….


January 19th, 2017 at 1:57 PM ^

+1. Thanks for the knowledge.

It is possible that there still could be an estate tax issue here, if he owns shares of Detroit Tigers, Inc., as MLB likely will not allow any franchise ownership interests to pass directly to his spouse, Marian, due to her ownership of the casino. If ownership could pass to her, then there's no estate tax issues at all until her passing.

EDIT: Either way, this franchise is going to be on the market sooner rather than later. They'll sell it right after the patriarch closes his eyes forever.


January 19th, 2017 at 2:09 PM ^

The Tigers are outside of Illitch Holdings and are owned by Mike personally because of Marian's ownership interest in Motor City Casino. This structure also means that, for some time at least, the Tigers corporate structure all reported to Mike directly instead of his son Chris in his capacity as head of the family's business interests. 


January 19th, 2017 at 9:27 AM ^

Rank Team Opening Day Avg Salary Median
1 Dodgers $ 223,352,402 $ 7,445,080 $ 5,166,666
2 Yankees $ 213,472,857 $ 7,361,133 $ 3,300,000
3 Red Sox $ 182,161,414 $ 6,072,047 $ 3,500,000
4 Tigers $ 172,282,250 $ 6,891,290 $ 3,000,000
5 Giants $ 166,495,942 $ 5,946,284 $ 4,000,000



January 19th, 2017 at 9:35 AM ^

Nice guy, they've known him a long time I guess but man, didn't fire me up, I was just thinking, okay, here's the draw down where Tigers go into 30 years of mediocrity. At least Chris Ilitch is a hockey guy so we know he will spend the money on the wings.


January 19th, 2017 at 9:53 AM ^

I'm not terribly familiar with the workings of the NHL salary cap, but how much can an owner actually go out of pocket to spend on players? 

I assume that the willing owner could pay for ancillary benefits (better locker room amenities and the like -- similar to the arms race in college football and basketball), but what can be done to overcome the salary cap?


January 19th, 2017 at 10:14 AM ^

but having a savvy general manager that can make good trades and solid free agent signings is key in the cap era. Ken Holland has proven that he can't compete if he can't outspend.

When was the last time the Wings made a significant trade or home run free agent signing that put them in Cup contention?  All organization's are now scouring Europe and Russia, a trend the Wings were at the forefront of, so Holland no longer has that advantage either.

The Wings need new blood in the front office. Unfortunately, Steve Yzerman is locked up in Tampa Bay. They need to find someone that can bring in the talent necessary to win a Cup via FA signings and trades because this Wings team is not built for any type of Cup run now or in the foreseeable furture.


January 19th, 2017 at 12:36 PM ^

Totally agree with you on Holland and the poor performance of the GM function for the Wings.

I was specifically refering to any ability of the owner to spend-to-win.  It seems that the strike around the collective bargaining agreement was specifically designed to eliminate that practice -- probably specifically targeting the Wings and Avs at the time.

One way an owner could spend to win is paying whatever break-up fee Yzerman has in his contract with Tampa Bay.  

uncle leo

January 19th, 2017 at 9:27 AM ^

Nothing but speculation at this point. 

Illitch loves the Tigers and I think he holds onto that team until he passes. He wants nothing more than winning a title with these guys.

uncle leo

January 19th, 2017 at 9:50 AM ^

With what he wants out of life? 

It's been noted many times over that winning a WS is basically the only thing left he wants on his life. I expect him to fight for that until he can't anymore.

It is entirely possible to be old and getting near the end and still have passion for stuff. Not sure what that comment has to do with anything.


January 19th, 2017 at 9:48 AM ^

I agree.  The Tigers have always been Mr. I's baby, maybe not so much Chris and the rest of the family.  I don't see them doing anything until after he passes as you mentioned though.

With that being said, I'm all for whatever keep the Tigers from the 90's and early 2000 versions we were forced to watch.


"I love Dean Palmer ... if you can trade him tomorrow give me a call"


January 19th, 2017 at 10:00 AM ^

Always? I think the Tigers became his baby after he was unable to sink all his money into the Wings after the salary cap was introduced. He didn't give two shits about them prior to that. Am I correct in this line of thinking? I've always thought that was the general way things happened but maybe I'm wrong.

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Everyone Murders

January 19th, 2017 at 10:35 AM ^

I'm working off of memory, but I think Ilitch always put a high premium on the Tigers franchise.  He inherited an absolutely wretched roster from Tom Monaghan.  Monaghan was an comically bad owner, who was also highly distractable, and constantly looking for public adulation.  I don't recall Monaghan doing anything charitable that did not have a Brandon-esque clumsy self-promotion element to it. 

Ilitch, on the other hand, was relatively low key in both his franchise ownership and his charitable works.  Very devoted to Detroit in general, and loved baseball in general.  I think Detroit's been blessed to have him on many, many levels.

I think it really took Ilitch a few years to dig out of the Monaghan mess.  Detroit does not sell itself like some markets (NY, Chicago, LA, etc.), and it was not easy until Pudge (and then Magglio) to show that he was really dedicated to rebuilding the franchise.

Again, this is without researching it - just my recollection.


January 19th, 2017 at 11:38 AM ^

The first decade of Ilitch's ownership of the Tigers was bleak.  The Tigers were one of the worst franchises in baseball for most of that time.  For awhile they didn't spend much money, with the justification being that they needed a new stadium.  After the stadium was constructed, they still didn't spend that much in the first few years, claiming that they needed to pay down their share of the construction costs.  

However, after that humiliating 2003 season (43-119), when the Tigers were basically a glorified AAA team, Ilitch finally opened up the checkbook and began to spend what it took to make the franchise competitive.  Since that time he's been a model owner.




Ronnie Kaye

January 19th, 2017 at 8:04 PM ^

Mike Illitch. "Awesome." The man who uses public coffers to privatize the city for his benefit and turn swaths of it into a white playground for suburbanites to enter, spend at places that line his pockets, then leave while the actual residents who sleep there rot and hope their water isn't turned off.

It must be nice going through life with a brain so small. I bet you're as happy as a pig in shit.