On Monday, two Pueblo County commissioners proposed to the city a revised funding plan for a new downtown Pueblo ballpark.
A Rookie-league Pioneer League team could be in play for Pueblo, should local officials decide to decide to move forward with constructing a new facility. Previous discussions have revolved around whether the ballpark could be financed through revenue from a ballot question approved by voters in 2016. A downtown youth-sports complex was one of the projects included in that ballot question, and Pueblo County and City of Pueblo officials had debated whether a new ballpark was an appropriate fit for the complex concept.
However, a new plan presented to the city council by two of the three Pubelo County commissioners takes that funding out of the equation for the ballpark. The key revision to the ballpark funding plan is that it now calls for the issuance of taxable certificates of participation, to be backed by tax increment financing. The county would take on all of the debt risk, though the city’s involvement is still needed for this concept to move forward. More from The Pueblo Chieftain:
Saying they did further evaluation after questions had been raised about the project’s financing, Commissioners Sal Pace and Terry Hart told council members at a work session Monday night that the plan now would be to issue taxable certificates of participation — which are bond instruments governments of Colorado use — this year for up to $25 million, which would be backed by tax increment financing revenues from specific private project development in the area.
The county is requesting that the city direct the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority to remove identified parcels out of any existing urban renewal project areas that are producing minimal amounts of tax revenues and comprising a new project area from those identified parcels.
The county would pledge its full sales and property tax increment to the tax increment financing structure, and the county is requesting that the city provide 3 percent of the city’s 3.7 percent sales and use tax and 4.3 percent of the city’s lodging tax generated from all parcels in the new PURA project area for 25 years.
The commissioners said that based upon anticipated development, the county’s financial analyst has projected up to $45 million may be generated over 25 years from the new project area. Tax revenue growth attributed to the private developer would cover the cost of the stadium, according to Pace.
The council did not make any final decisions on Monday, so discussions will have to continue. The facility would be designed to host multiple types of events in addition to baseball, including other sports. Pueblo has been eyed by MiLB and the Pioneer League as the future home of a team needing a new ballpark in the next two-to-three years because of lease issues. Furthermore, the Helena Brewers are set to relocate to Colorado Springs in 2019, so Pueblo could provide the Pioneer League with another market in its eastern footprint.