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Pueblo County Approves MOU With Orem Owlz

Pueblo Ballpark rendering

In an early but important step in new ballpark discussions, Pueblo County has approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Orem Owlz (Rookie; Pioneer League) owner Jeff Katofsky

Earlier this week, Katofsky announced that he will move the Owlz to Pueblo, CO if an agreement for a new ballpark there can be struck. The current goal is to open the new ballpark for the relocating Owlz in time for the 2020 Pioneer League season, but Katofsky and local officials still have to come to terms on the proposed facility.

Pueblo County took a step this week to continue those discussions, as commissioners voted by a 2-1 margin on Wednesday to approve a non-binding MOU with Katofsky. There is still plenty of work remaining to move the new ballpark forward, but approval of the MOU is a key part of a longer process. More from The Pueblo Chieftain:

“It basically brings out everybody’s expectations. It’s lightweight, but it’s definitely important. It lays out all of our mutual intentions. It lays out the beginnings of our bargaining on critical aspects of the project,” said Chris Markuson, the county’s director of economic development.

“It also lays out our commitments to the community and our commitments to the developer and vice versa. I think that’s a great starting point for things and it frames up really what the work we are going to divide up between each other is.”

Commissioners Sal Pace and Terry Hart, who voted in favor of the document Wednesday, said it’s just the beginning of a long process to complete the project.

“As we work our way through, there is going to be some easy solutions and there’s going to be some tough questions come up that are going to be a little more challenging,” Hart said during that same commissioners meeting Wednesday.

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.

Rendering courtesy Youth Entertainment Sports Pueblo.

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