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Titans Say Audit Shows All Ticket Taxes Paid

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Posted at 6:07 PM, Jul 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 14:17:13-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Metro taxpayers will never have to worry again about being shorted on ticket taxes paid by the Titans.

That was the message team officials delivered Wednesday to the Nashville Sports Authority.

The Titans recently wrote the city a check for $120,000, and the team presented an audit that concludes that's all they owe.

What the audit did not reveal was exactly how it happened.

"Is Metro receiving all the taxes that they are owed?" asked Sports Authority board member Dudley West.

That was the question at the center of the presentation by Titans interim President Steve Underwood, a presentation of the team's own audit of ticket taxes that it's supposed to collect and pay for upkeep on the city-owned stadium.

"We've never tried to run from it being our fault," Underwood said.

"They were former employees who did things that we don't condone. Nevertheless, we put the Metropolitan Government in that position -- and we are going to take responsibility for it, as we should."

Underwood outline new people and procedures that the team has put into place to avoid a recurrence of such issues in the future.

As NewsChannel 5 Investigates first revealed, for years the Titans had reported to the NFL that every game was a sell-out, but reported much smaller numbers to Metro for tax purposes.

Many of the problems appears to stem from the team's relationship with a professional ticket scalper.

As we first reported, the Titans ticket office provided that scalper with substantial numbers of tickets to preseason games, like last year's Green Bay game, then wrote them off the books as donations to the military.

The team paid taxes on 57,478 tickets on that one game.

But the audit says the real number should have been 63,971.

Metro officials said they only asked for an audit of the 2014 season -- even though the team has admitted the problems go back three years -- to assure themselves that the Titans have a grip on the ticket tax issues. (To review the audit report, click here.)

Still, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling says the audit doesn't really explain what went wrong.

"It's not a forensic audit," Riebeling explained. "They didn't go in and do that. You are really going to have to rely on the Titans to explain how it happened internally."

But when we tried to ask about those practices, the Titans president had nothing to say.

"From our perspective," Riebeling added, "they have put new controls and new procedures into place that give us some assurance that it won't happen again."

And the finance director said that he really believes the city and the Titans are on the same team.

"In any kind of business relationship, there always has to be a level of trust."

Titans sources tell NewsChannel 5 Investigates that part of the deal with that ticket broker also included blocks of tickets to big concert events at the stadium, like last year's big One Direction concert.

But the finance director said those kinds of events were not included in the audit of those ticket taxes.

In the end, the Sports Authority wanted some time to look over the results. They'll take up the matter again next month.

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