According to an investigation by News Channel 5 of Nashville, the Tennessee Titans manipulated ticket sales to achieve a record number of sellouts over the last 15 years. To do so, they entered into business with a ticket broker, who was one of the ticket reseller StubHub’s biggest customers, to keep their sell out streak alive. The end goal, as admitted to by a former Titan executive, was to increase the value cost of tickets to the consumer.
Since their new reign in Nashville began in 1999, all 69,143 home game seats were purchased by fans. However, George Plaster of Nashville’s 102.5 The Game, told the news station that he grew very suspicious of the number the Titans were claiming. “All you had to do was look around the stadium and all the empty seats”, stated Plaster. “One of the biggest frauds in sports is this Titans sellout streak – I mean who is kidding who?”
In order to keep their sell out streak alive and avoid blackouts of games on local television, the Titans created a partnership with Cole Rubin of Dynasty Sports and Entertainment, a major broker affiliated with StubHub. Former Titan executive VP Don MacLauchlan revealed to News Channel 5 the Titans’ plan was to make Dynasty Sports and Entertainment “the main guy”, limiting his competition. MacLachlan said the ticket office for the Titans were “trying to up the value” of the tickets.
According to former team executives the “Titans gave Rubin free tickets to preseason match-ups, like last season’s Green Bay game –-match-ups that were reportedly written off on the team’s books as donations to the military.”
Chris Grimm, Fan Freedom executive director, thought this deal might be harmful to fans and consumers. “The teams are trying to consolidate whose buying their tickets to just a few select brokers, and we believe that they are trying to work out arrangements to fix prices.”
“Behind the scenes and secret purging of the competition to influence the value of tickets. Isn’t trying to fix prices illegal?” Asks Don Vaccaro, CEO of TicketNetwork. “If the Titans did violate antitrust laws this can change the investigation from civil to criminal.”
We reached out to the Titans for comment, but were not able to get through the busy lines at their corporate offices. We contacted State Senator Mark Green, who submitted legislation in the last session to protect consumers from deceptive ticket practices, but did not receive a response by this printing. U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee, who has submitted a bill in Congress to outlaw deceptive ticketing practices declined to comment at this time.
A statement released by the Titans stated, “after a regularly scheduled internal audit of ticket sales after the 2014 NFL season, we noted irregularities in our own ticket operation. These issues led to an internal investigation, which confirmed these irregularities. We took immediate corrective action…. We are continuing our investigation. “They also commented that “as an organization, we employ many strategies to maximize ticket sales, including ticket brokers from time to time. Most professional sports teams do also.” According to the Titan’s “Resale of tickets to NFL games is a common and accepted practice.”
Be sure to watch News Channel 5 tonight for part 2 of this investigative report.