Could Magic Fans Get "Refund" On Donovan?

Imagine this. You live in the Orlando area and you’ve been thinking about buying tickets for some time. Late last week, you hear that University of Florida coach Billy Donovan is coming to coach the team. So you plunk down $3,600 for two seats for two seats behind the basket. Then, Donovan reverses course. What do you do? You might ask for a refund. The question is, would you get it? You might immediately say “Yes.”

But is it a slam dunk if the team wants to put up a fight? Assuming the 200 fans that bought season tickets in the 24 hours surrounding Donovan’s hiring bought the average seats -- $40 per game for $1,800 a season -- that would mean that the Magic would have to refund $360,000. I called the team this morning and asked them if they were refunding tickets. A ticket representative told me that nothing had been determined yet.

Duke law school professor Paul Haagen told me earlier this week, he thought the team would have a case if they didn’t give the fans their money back. “I suspect that they intend to hold those ticket holders into their contracts and they’re not intending to release them,” Haagen told me. “They didn’t in fact guarantee that Billy Donovan would be the coach when they announced that he would be the coach.”

Billy Donovan
Billy Donovan

Now that’s interesting. Haagen is basically saying that there wasn’t any legal language that tied Donovan to season ticket contract. I’m not a lawyer, but I think this is good enough.

That’s coupled of course with the fact that the fan purchased the tickets within 24 hours of the Donovan announcement and it would be hard to argue that any event happened within that time that would have affected a mass of fans to decide to buy tickets.

It’s not a direct precedent and it happened in the Canadian courts, but there is a legal opinion that might side with the Magic should they choose to enforce the contracts signed by the season ticket holders. Season ticket holders of the Ottawa Senators sued Alexei Yashin, who sat out the entire 1999-00 season, alleging that they, in part, bought their tickets based on the fact that he was going to play. The case was eventually dismissed because it was said that it was impossible to prove that the season ticket holders bought the tickets because of Yashin.

The new season ticket holders of the Magic might have a better case, but remember, common sense and legal sense are two different ideas.

Madden Competitor
OK, I lied. Nothing really competes with Electronic Arts’ Madden football franchise. Definitely

All-Pro Football 2K8
All-Pro Football 2K8

now by virtue of the fact that Electronic Arts has the exclusive right to make an NFL game. But it has been interesting to watch how competing game companies have tried to get around it. With behind-the-scenes game play getting more popular, I was really impressed by Midway Games’ Blitz franchise last year and they were smart to position it as the renegade game the league doesn’t want you to see. This year’s entry comes from Take Two’s 2K Sports. If their Web siteis accurate, and I’m assuming it is, they’ve signed the biggest former players to the game called All-Pro Football 2K8. Jerry Rice, John Elway and Barry Sanders will be on the cover and the game will feature virtual images of Johnny Unitas, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and more than 230 others.

Before I move on, let me just say that I’m absolutely shocked that John Elway of all people agreed to be in this game. The guy has enough money and I’m not sure it makes sense to go up against the NFL like this. Then again, cash is cash. Some of the more interesting names on the list of players you can apparently play with include O.J. Simpson, Mike Golic, Brian Bosworth and Korey Stringer. The game will also feature a unique soundtrack with the work of people I guess I should know including Z-Trip, Slug From Atmosphere, Aceyalone and Casual. The game will be out later this year on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 and will cost $59.95, which is actually the same price EA is charging for Madden on both those consoles.

LeBron James Campaign

Nike will continue its “Witness” campaign now that its top endorser LeBron James is in the NBA Finals, which starts tomorrow night. This black and white ad will appear in Sports Illustrated, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon-Journal.

There will also be a television commercial, also in black and white, which will include a LeBron highlight from this year’s playoffs with Marion Williams signing “I Shall Be Released” in the background. The 30-second spot will first run on tonight’s 11 p.m. ESPN SportsCenter. Fans can get Witness wallpaper and see previous commercials on

By the way, while we're on shoes, I misspoke yesterday when I wrote that Billups and Iverson are the only two active players with lifetime shoe deals. Adidas also has Tracy McGrady and Kevin Garnett on lifetime deals.

Ratings Corner
Sunday night’s matchup between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees on ESPN was watched in an average of 3.98 million homes. That total ranks as the largest audience ever for a Sunday night regular season telecast on ESPN--beating the broadcast on April 22 between the same two teams. Excluding one-game playoffs in 1998 and 1999, Sunday’s game ranks as the most watched regular season broadcast on ESPN since Mark McGwire hit home run No. 61 on Sept. 7, 1998. Saturday night’s Stanley Cup Finals game three between the Ottawa and Anaheim drew a 1.1 national rating, which tied for the lowest rating ever garnered by an NBC primetime audience. It tied a rerun of “The West Wing” on July 23, 2005.

Questions? Comments?