The Tennessee Titans underpaid city taxes for at least three seasons, a top executive told the Metro Sports Authority on Wednesday, but the team needs more time to figure out exactly how much it owes.
Titans president Steve Underwood apologized for the shortfall and said those responsible in the ticket office had been fired. But he said the team has not yet completed an investigation into how tickets designated as going to charity instead ended up in the hands of scalpers.
He pledged a complete report at the Sports Authority's next board meeting in July. He also promised the team would pay back the city before then.
"The idea that we would deliberately withhold or intentionally try to minimize the ticket tax — avoid payment of the ticket tax — that's repugnant to us," Underwood told board members.
Last month, WTVF reported the Titans have frequently understated how many tickets they sold to recent games — perhaps by as many as 13,000 tickets to one game alone. The station also reported the Titans struck a deal with an outside ticket broker to maintain its string of consecutive sellouts, a pact that might also have inflated the prices paid by fans.
Underwood said the team was already aware of "irregularities" in its ticket sales at the time of the report and launched an internal investigation. So far, that inquiry has found inaccurate reports for games in each of the past three seasons, and the problem could go back even farther.
The allegations include a claim the team told the city it had given away tickets to military personnel that instead went to a broker. Tickets donated to charities usually aren't subject to the city's $3 per ticket tax.
Underwood acknowledged mistakes but said the team would have little incentive to mislead the city, because proceeds just go back to the Titans to pay for the upkeep of LP Field.
Members of the authority's board appeared to accept Underwood's explanation. Rip Ryman called Underwood, who came out of retirement to serve as president at least through the upcoming season, a "stand-up guy" for acknowledging the team was in the wrong.