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Paul Feller from revoked PELE and scam trader SMDI

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BBseller   Sunday, 08/25/13 11:27:05 AM
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Paul Feller from revoked PELE and scam trader SMDI


College Football

Emerald City Bowl plans '04 kickoff

By Bud Withers

Seattle Times staff reporter

Surrounded by people who want to make a college-football postseason game work in Seattle, a California promoter yesterday announced the birth of the Emerald City Bowl, seen as a successor to the defunct Seattle Bowl.

Paul Feller, president and CEO of Pro Sports Entertainment, Inc., hopes the game — which still must be certified by the NCAA — fares better than one of his last sports ventures, the 2000 Long Beach Marathon.

PSEI has signed a five-year agreement with First and Goal, the Seahawks' parent company, for use of Seahawks Stadium for the game.

If it becomes certified next spring, the game would follow the two-year run of the Seattle Bowl. That owner, Terry Daw, left a trail of unpaid bills and the NCAA declined to certify it for this year.

While a news release on the announcement called the prospective game the "Seattle Bowl," Feller said it would be called the Emerald City Bowl.

Asked what his company can do better than Daw's, Feller said, "Everything. We bring a professional organization that has in-house marketing, a corporate-development team. ... We bring a level of professionalism that was not here before.

"We have other events we own and operate that allow us to bring a different level of sponsors. We make it our mantra that every one is run with great expertise and great excellence, and the sponsors notice."

PSEI's headquarters, formerly in Santa Barbara, Calif., are now in Los Angeles. It lists its portfolio of events as the prestigious Millrose Games indoor track meet in New York, plus music festivals and car shows.

Another of its ventures was the 2000 Long Beach (Calif.) Marathon. That resulted in unpaid bills, a succession of lawsuits and a loss in ownership of the event.

"You know, it's something I don't really want to comment on anymore," Feller said. "We've filed a 42-count lawsuit against the current operators of the marathon. It's an event that's owned and trademarked by Pro Sports and Entertainment, Inc.

"We believe the ownership rights will be returned to Pro Sports. We're more into looking at the future and all the great things we are doing rather than looking back on one bad situation."

Among PSEI's creditors in California was the city of Long Beach. This week, assistant city attorney Barry Meyers said Feller paid a reported $72,835 debt after litigation.

"Everybody has been paid," Feller insisted. "We've made good on all the (creditors), whether they were ours or not."

Not everyone agrees, however. One is vendor John Libby, whose company, Gold Gifts and Promotional Products of Redondo Beach, Calif., provided medals for the event.

"He got me for about $25,000," Libby said. "He's a wheeler-dealer. I wouldn't trust him any farther than I could throw him."

Responded Feller, "I'm not familiar with him. However, if that's the case, they should contact us, because we have been making sure everybody's paid."

Months later after the marathon, PSEI had debts estimated by the Long Beach Press-Telegram newspaper of "at least $300,000."

After the event, two members of Feller's PSEI staff split from the company and formed International City Racing in competition with PSEI.

In April 2001, an acrimonious Long Beach city-council meeting took place at which Feller said debts would be paid within 10 days. His bid to retain the event was denied and International City Racing won the right to host future marathons.

A police escort shielded Feller from angry vendors, who marched to a microphone and told stories of money they were owed. One, Scott Rubin, then 21, said he had his parents take out a second mortgage of $65,000 on their home so he could finance T-shirts for his promotional-products company.

After two years in litigation, Feller began payments to Rubin.

John Goldman, one of the organizers of International City Racing, said some $50,000 was owed to the elite athletes from the event. Goldman says the new group agreed to pay off those debts but not money owed vendors.

Explaining the departure from PSEI, Goldman said this week, "We were informed after the (2000) race there was not enough money to meet payroll, so we left. We didn't feel like being hounded constantly by creditors. It didn't seem like the company was financially ready to put on any more events."

Goldman acknowledged there is pending litigation between the two parties, while Feller says, and PSEI's Web site indicates, that the company has undergone a major restructuring.

At the city council meeting in which Goldman's new group was awarded the marathon, Feller was upbraided by councilmen and Rubin threw T-shirts at Feller.

One of the councilmen was Frank Colonna, who is also vice mayor. Reacting to PSEI's involvement here, he says, "Proceed with caution. Make sure that everything that's being advanced as suggesting credibility can be verified in order to make sure the event does occur and is properly capitalized — and make sure any vendors are insured to receive payment."

At the same time, said Colonna, "I always felt Paul and his organization were very well-intentioned. He didn't give any inkling that there was some other objective here."

Because the prospective participants in the bowl aren't known until late November or early December, Feller says it's important that the event be promoted as a "week-long festival."

Among those joining Feller for the announcement was Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson and Jack Thompson, former Washington State quarterback.

Craig Thompson's presence was to promote the possibility of a tie-in with that league. But the league's top three teams are contracted with other bowls in 2004. In 2005, the MWC has one tie-in.

The Pac-10 is committed to its top five bowls — Rose, Holiday, Sun, Insight and Las Vegas — through the 2005 season.

"We're making it a major priority to get Pac-10 involvement in this bowl game," said Feller.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

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