Titans hire outside investigators to look into ticket sales 'irregularities' following audit



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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The Tennessee Titans have hired outside investigators to review "irregularities" in ticket sales discovered during a team audit.

The Titans released a statement Monday night saying some tickets sold during the 2014 season were "falsely designated as military comps on an internal report." The team did not say how many tickets were sold, or how much money was lost or is unaccounted for. The team owes $3 of each ticket sold to the Metro Nashville Sports Authority for improvements at the stadium.

The team has informed the NFL and Metro Nashville's finance officials and sports authority, the statement said. The Titans also hired independent accounting professionals to further audit the team while restructuring the ticket office, firing at least two people in that department. Another executive also resigned.

Senior ticketing director Marty Collins and director of ticket operations Tim Zenner were fired in February, and Don MacLachlan, executive vice president of administration and facilities, resigned two weeks later in February.

The Titans say in their statement, first reported by WTVF-TV in Nashville, that they are still investigating to ensure nothing has been overlooked.

The difference between tickets sold or given away means the difference in taxes not collected, specifically including a total of $3 per ticket that goes to the Sports Authority for stadium improvements like video boards and elevators added in recent years. The Titans have collected that user fee since 2009, and they estimate they give the Sports Authority between $2.5 million and $3 million each year in user fees.

"The notion that we would not collect and remit the user fee on sold tickets is false," according to the Titans' statement. "The user fee works to Metro's benefit, Titans benefit and to the benefit of every user of the building."

Executive director Toby Compton said the Titans recently updated the sports authority about the audit, but his organization is currently in a holding pattern.

"We're going to wait until they come back with their findings, their audit, sit down with them and figure out ways we can move forward and protections in place so there's no gray areas," Compton said.

WTVF-TV reported Monday night that the NFL franchise used a Florida ticket broker to keep its sellout streak alive. MacLachlan and Collins told the station they had a deal using ticket broker Cole Rubin of Boca Raton, Florida, as the main person for scalping tickets to boost the value of the team's tickets and help extend a sellout streak that dated back to 1999.

Rubin, who works at Dynasty Sports and Entertainment, was not in the office Tuesday afternoon and did not immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press.

"Resale of tickets to NFL games is a common and accepted practice," the Titans' said in their statement. "To the best of our knowledge, no ticket broker was a participant in any of our internal ticket policy errors."

Tennessee has reported selling out every game since LP Field opened in 1999, a streak of 164 games, though thousands of empty seats were visible at most games as the team went 2-14 in 2014.

"We received notice from the team and are available to assist as the club's investigation continues," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email Tuesday. "We will review the results to better understand what took place and to identify any steps that would be appropriate for other clubs to consider."

Overhauling the ticket office was just the first of the Titans' front office changes this offseason.

Tommy Smith retired as president and chief executive officer in late March, and Steve Underwood was brought back to run the team as interim president. He also is overseeing a search for a new president.


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