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Pueblo turns its back on the Owlz
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By Joshua Pilkington

The deal that would have brought a Minor League Baseball team to Pueblo is dead. In June there was some commotion in Pueblo surrounding the prospect of the Orem Owlz packing up their gear in Utah Valley to take in the mountain vistas and expanding recreation of Pueblo.

The crown jewel of the deal would have been a new stadium for the Rookie League team as well as three new hotels in the area and a multi-purpose sports facility for youth sports. That deal, however, came crashing to a halt on Monday afternoon when the Pueblo County Commissioner’s office released a statement saying that they would no longer be pursuing the YES project that would have brought the team, stadium and hotels to Pueblo.

“Unfortunately the project opponent have made the chance of success far too unlikely to move forward,” said Pueblo County Commissioners Sal Pace and Terry Hart in a joint statement. “There are other important projects that we need to work on, including the other 1A projects, Fountain Creek water quality, and local economic development projects. We will continue to vigorously fight for our community, even if we are saddened by the end of the YES project.”

The project was expected to create about 400 new jobs and would have included a $50 million private investment. Orem Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky also expressed some displeasure with the deal falling through in a statement.

“Previously, we announced a likely deal with the City and County of Pueblo to open a youth sports facility, multiple hotels and a new home for the Owlz,” he said. “I have always stated that it was a dream and goal of mine to have a youth sports facility for boys and girls to learn baseball, team sports and the leadership and athletic lessons that ensue. In the end, some within the City of Pueblo, as well as other related governmental agencies, were either unable or unwilling to consummate the written and oral promises that were made to our ownership groups.”

While praising the city for its historic downtown, riverwalk and “wonderful, welcoming people,” Katofsky added that his main goal was to revitalize Pueblo.

“Our goal was to invest approximately $50 million in order to revitalize Pueblo through sports, tourism and growth that would bring literally thousands of people to Pueblo weekly during baseball season,” Katofsky said. “In addition, Pueblo would have a multi-use facility for events, concerts, graduations, high school and college games, soccer and a host of exciting community gatherings.”

Katofsky did not mince words in expressing his displeasure towards those that opposed the deal.

“Unfortunately, those opposed to this economic juggernaut had the louder voice,” he said. “For whatever reasons, we seemed to believe in Pueblo more than this outspoken minority.”

Both Pace and Hart agreed that the deal would have brought a great deal of sports-related infrastructure to the city, something they were both excited about.

“We believe that it was a worthy project for our town because it would have given Pueblo a multi-use stadium, which would have been built by the owner’s own tax payments to our community,” they said. “It would have provided a wonderful anchor for further development of HARP and downtown Pueblo, and it would have delivered a huge economic boost to our community.”

They added that there are no ill feelings toward Katofsky and praised those who had worked on the project over the past year.

“We want to thank all of the wonderful individuals and entities that have worked on this project so diligently, but it is time to move on,” they said. “We also feel sad that we are not able to conclude this project with Jeff Katofsky and the Orem Owlz. We wish them nothing but good luck in their future endeavors.”

Those who reviewed the deal saw money as the biggest obstacle. Several opponents voiced their opinion that they did not see how the tax projections from the pending hotels would fully finance the new stadium, which led them to question who would foot the bill when the figures did not match up.





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