As he pursues a new ballpark there for the Orem Owlz (Rookie; Pioneer League), team owner Jeff Katofsky is touting his belief in Pueblo, CO.
Katofsky is eyeing Pueblo as a potential new home for the Owlz, a team in need of a new facility in the next two-to-three years because of lease issues, as its current home is slated to be closed and demolished. Under the current proposal, a new ballpark would be constructed in downtown Pueblo and potentially open for the 2020 season.
For funding of the facility, Pueblo County has proposed to issue taxable certificates of participation for up to $25 million, to be backed by tax increment financing. The county is proposing to assume all of the debt risk, but has asked the city to provide 3% of its 3.7% sales and use tax plus 4.3% of its lodging tax revenue generated in the area for 25 years. Katofsky, meanwhile, would develop three hotels in the surrounding area that could serve visitors to the ballpark and tournament attendees at a nearby sports complex that would be funded separately from the MiLB facility. He is slated to be in Pueblo on Wednesday to announce his intent to relocate the Owlz, but has spoken highly of Pueblo and the proposed ballpark ahead of his visit. More from KOAA:
“I’m going to sign on the dotted line for about $50 million bucks, I’m taking a lot of risks, but I believe in Pueblo.”
Katofsky is moving his rookie league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels to Pueblo beginning in the 2020 season. He sees Pueblo as a city on the rise, and he said the community’s planned $8 million expansion of youth baseball fields at the Runyon Sports Complex won him over.
“I’ve been trying to put a youth facility together for youth sports almost for 15 years,” Katofsky said. “(I) wanted to do it in Utah, spent a lot of time trying to do it in Utah. When it started looking like it wasn’t going to happen, I started to look elsewhere as a possibility.”
Debate over the proposed Pubelo ballpark continues. If the proposal does move forward, the relocation of the Owlz would give the Pioneer League another team in its eastern footprint, joining the Helena Brewers, who are relocating to Colorado Springs in 2019.
Rendering courtesy Youth Entertainment Sports Pueblo.
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