The Orem Owlz (Rookie; Pioneer League) could move to Pueblo, CO in time for the 2020 season, pending approval of a new ballpark project.
On Wednesday, Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky visited Pubelo to announce his intention to relocate the team if an agreement can be struck for a new ballpark. Under the funding model for the proposed facility, Pueblo County would 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.
Officials still have several steps to take to make the proposed ballpark a reality, but Katofsky was clear Wednesday in expressing his enthusiasm for Pueblo as the future home of his franchise. More from The Pueblo Cheftian:
“The Owlz were in a situation where our lease was up and we had to move. We looked at Utah for a long time and Utah was certainly viable. I looked all over the place,” Katofsky said.
“And selfishly you might wonder what this carpetbagger is doing here in Pueblo. I am going to be selfish now and tell you why and I am standing on it here and it’s that field and that one and this one and the six more,” he said, pointing to the fields surrounding him at Runyon.
“For me, this is more about giving me the opportunity to do a youth program. The other things go with it.”
County Commissioner Sal Pace, who has taken the lead on the project, and Commissioner Terry Hart spoke as well, as did several other city and county leaders.
If the move goes forward as proposed, it would mark the second consecutive season in which an existing Pioneer League team relocates to the circuit’s eastern footprint. The Helena Brewers are already set to move to Colorado Springs in 2019.
Rendering courtesy Youth Entertainment Sports Pueblo.
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