The New Mexico Bowl, owned by ESPN, dropped title sponsor DreamHouse Productions after just three weeks upon learning the company has no Albuquerque business license and, for all intents and purposes, does not exist, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
New Mexico-based website Enchantment Sports began investigating DreamHouse and its CEO, Eric G. Martinez, for fraud after the company was announced as the new title sponsor for the New Mexico Bowl on October 1. On Wednesday, the Albuquerque Journal revealed the business address listed on New Mexico state records matched the address Martinez listed as his own in court records. Martinez also reportedly owes $16,717 in credit card debt. Upon attempting to garnish his wages, the Journal discovered Martinez’s last paycheck came from Sony Pictures Imageworks. It was a 2016 residual check worth less than two dollars.
In an October 1 press release, ESPN Events claimed DreamHouse established a 25,000 square-foot post-production studio outside the Aperture Center, a three-story building that is reported to be “mostly vacant” and a far cry from any sort of studio. The DreamHouse website makes no mention of the bowl game, the company logo was removed from all New Mexico Bowl branding and Martinez has declined to comment to the media.
ESPN offered little explanation for cutting ties with DreamHouse and said they, “remain focused on ensuring a quality experience for fans.” Clothing manufacturer Gildan sponsored the game from 2011 to 2017, and ESPN has less than two months to find a new partner. Last year's game was played without a title sponsor.
The New Mexico Bowl is one of 13 bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events, with the inaugural event taking place in 2006. It traditionally features a Mountain West team, with opponents coming from Conference USA since 2014.
Last year’s game saw Utah State blow out North Texas 52-13.
Despite the controversy, kickoff is still scheduled for December 21 at the University of New Mexico’s Dreamstyle Stadium, which has no affiliation with the fake production company.