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Questions raised about status of new NM Bowl sponsor

New Mexico Bowl executive director Jeff Siembieda, left, appears with DreamHouse CEO Eric Martinez at an Oct. 1 press event to announce the company’s title sponsorship for the bowl game. (Roberto Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Earlier this month, ESPN Events officials announced that the new title sponsor for the 2019 New Mexico Bowl is DreamHouse, describing the Albuquerque firm as “focused on the film industry” while having a “great local presence.”

At a press event Oct. 1, New Mexico Bowl Executive Director Jeff Siembieda touted the new four-year bowl sponsorship, saying, “I think you know what the film industry is doing for our state. It’s a hub for our economy and DreamHouse is a big part of that. This partnership is right.

“I think it will help widen our audience … and it’s great exposure for the city and the state.”

So far, the deal isn’t living up to the hype.

DreamHouse includes DreamHouse Post Production LLC, which was registered with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office in March, listing CEO Eric Martinez as its registered agent. A year earlier, Martinez registered a related firm, DreamHouse Productions LLC.

The fledgling DreamHouse has no business license with the city of Albuquerque, and state records list the company’s address as a residence on Cactus Trail NW on Albuquerque’s West Side – the same address listed for Martinez in court records.

An Oct. 1 press release from ESPN said DreamHouse has a 25,000-square-foot post-production studio. And the sponsorship was announced outside the Aperture Center at Mesa Del Sol, where ESPN officials and Martinez said DreamHouse’s post-production studio was located.

But this week, there were no signs of DreamHouse at the Aperture Center. The three-story building is mostly vacant, except for a cafe and a construction business.

Martinez said in an interview earlier this month with an Arkansas television station that the company’s space was next to the Netflix production hub at Mesa Del Sol. But when asked about DreamHouse at the Netflix gate this week, a security guard said he didn’t know of the firm, adding, “That’s a new one to me.”

Three weeks after the sponsorship announcement, the DreamHouse website makes no mention of the 2019 New Mexico Bowl. The identities of its management team have been stripped from the site.

Meanwhile, state District Court records in Bernalillo County show an ongoing lawsuit, first filed in 2007, in which a judgment was obtained against an Eric G. Martinez. The lawsuit’s most recent filings list the Cactus Trail NW address for Martinez.

Court filings in April show Martinez now owes at least $16,717 to CACH LLC on a credit card debt. Efforts to garnish his wages to repay the debt show the most recent garnishee was Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc.

But Sony’s answer filed in May shows handwritten notes that Martinez wasn’t a current employee and received only residual checks periodically.

“*Last ck was for $1.57 on 11/20/16,” the response said.

The judge in the case allowed Sony to withdraw as garnishee.

Martinez is a local actor and motivational speaker who nearly 20 years ago received publicity as a singer with the Shades of Soul vocal group. He told an Arkansas television station he has 27 years in the entertainment industry, spending 13 years as an actor.

Despite the splash surrounding the sponsorship announcement, Martinez isn’t talking publicly now.

He declined through a spokesman to be interviewed by the Journal. Messages to Martinez at both his personal and DreamHouse email addresses were returned as “undeliverable” earlier this week. His cellphone voicemail was full and wasn’t accepting new messages.

Jordan Pacheco, director of marketing for DreamHouse Productions, told the Journal on Tuesday evening, “Right now, we’re not looking to do any statements. As of right now, he’s not looking to make any statements.”

Pacheco said Martinez was headed to Colorado this week as part of his continuing anti-bullying campaign, “I Got Your Back,” in which he has spoken to more than 300,000 students across the country, according to his personal website.

Pacheco added, “He (Martinez) really doesn’t want to put anything out there quite yet. He’s got a few things they’re trying to button up and then that way they can actually make some announcements.”

ESPN mum

Siembieda, who is employed by ESPN, referred Journal questions about the bowl sponsorship and Martinez to ESPN.

A spokeswoman for ESPN, which owns the New Mexico Bowl, declined to answer questions about Martinez or DreamHouse. But she said ESPN is looking into allegations made by a local website, Enchantment Sports. The website first raised questions about Martinez last week, quoting several individuals highly critical of him.

ESPN wouldn’t divulge the financial arrangements in securing DreamHouse as the title sponsor.

But college bowl title sponsors typically are expected to make a financial commitment as part of their sponsorship. For example, the Chicago suburb Elk Grove Village spent $300,000 in 2018 to be title sponsor for the Bahamas Bowl, which had been without a sponsor for several years.

Last year, the New Mexico Tourism Department spent $125,000 on the New Mexico Bowl, but this year only $25,000 has been devoted so far to advertise in connection with the game on Dec. 21, a department spokesman told the Journal.

Kickoff for the 14th annual game is at noon at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque. Dreamstyle has no affiliation with Martinez’s firm DreamHouse.

Anna M. Negron, a spokeswoman for ESPN College Sports, wouldn’t say what is expected of DreamHouse as a title sponsor in an email to the Journal this week.

Asked about DreamHouse’s business status and prior ESPN statements touting the company, Negron told the Journal only, “Questions related to DreamHouse and their business/website should be directed to them.”

In addition to the garnishment case involving Sony, records on file at the Bernalillo County Clerk show two other creditors have taken judgments against an Eric G. Martinez.

In 2009, the Credit Acceptance Corp., representing Citigroup, received a judgment against Eric G. Martinez of $11,938 plus interest. That case is still pending, court records show, after Martinez paid $1,049, with $11,698 remaining due. Another judgment from 2005 showed Eric G. Martinez owed about $5,400 to a private individual.

Martinez’s other company, PowerMoves Entertainment, was sued in 2007 in Metropolitan Court in Albuquerque over an alleged debt of $5,213, which ultimately was paid.

DreamHouse marketing director Pacheco told the Journal he wasn’t aware of any of those judgments.

Exposure

During the rollout press conference with ESPN officials, Martinez said the partnership would help grow brand recognition for his company.

“This is a great way to kick-start the DreamHouse brand locally and nationally,” Martinez said. “We want to be a long-term partner for this game, and we want New Mexico to be the No. 1 hub for the film industry.”

The New Mexico Bowl began in 2006 as a partnership between ESPN and then-Gov. Bill Richardson’s now-defunct New Mexico Sports Authority. From 2011 to 2017, Gildan Apparel had the title sponsorship. There was no sponsor last year.

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