Basketball fans refunded $5m over botched seating, star-studded ads

Thousands of spectators that attended a series of basketball games featuring Team USA in Australia last year will be paid out more than $5 million after complaining about blocked views and misleading star-studded advertisements.

Promoter TEG Live has admitted it made false or misleading claims about its seating plan at Marvel Stadium for the pre-FIBA World Cup schedule in August last year.

While the promoters had used a picture of an American basketball stadium with tiered seats in its advertisements, the floor-level seats at the Melbourne stadium were not elevated.

TEG Live has agreed to refund more than $5 million to 5000 people who purchased around 20,000 tickets, in an enforceable undertaking with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

"Consumers paid a premium for floor-level seats, ranging between $895 and $3995 for a hospitality package and may have done so as a result of misleading seating advertising," ACCC chair Rod Sims said on Tuesday.

The promoters also acknowledged that it may have misled consumers about which US basketball stars would play in the series.

TEG Live had advertised the games using the names of major NBA stars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who did not play in Australia.

The ACCC said the promoters "did not have reasonable grounds in most cases for representing to consumers they would play or be available to play".

"Over a year before the games, a 35-man squad was selected and TEG Live included the names and images of the majority of those players in its advertisements," Mr Sims said.

"In the end, only four players from the 35-man squad, Harrison Barnes, Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton and Miles Turner, played in the games.

"We are concerned consumers may have purchased tickets believing many of these advertised high-profile players would be playing when, in the end, this was not the case."

TEG Live acknowledged "some fans were disappointed" that the line-up did not include some of NBA's biggest stars.

"Based on the information provided to TEG Live by USA Basketball, we had expected these stars to play," a spokesman said in a statement.

"This is a particularly complex issue for our industry because in team sport, team selection is within the sole control of sporting teams or federations – in this case USA Basketball – rather than the company promoting the event. In addition, final team selection is always subject to change. Several intervening events contributed to an unprecedented number of player withdrawals ahead of these basketball games."

TEG Live will automatically pay back fans who bought tickets after August 15, 2018 if they had requested a refund because of the altered team line-up.

Everyone who bought floor-level seats at the Melbourne games between 18 June, 2018 and 24 August, 2019 will also be refunded.

Actor Russell Crowe said he paid $1500 to sit courtside, only to have a restricted view, at Marvel Stadium.

"Joke's on me," he wrote on Twitter at the time.

TEG Live will contact those fans and automatically refund them using their original payment method before the end of July.

Team USA went up against the Australian Boomers twice in Melbourne in August and against the Canadian team in Sydney. More than 120,000 people attended the games.

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