Orem Owlz (Rookie; Pioneer League) owner Jeff Katofsky is taking over a planned Windsor, CO sports complex, but whether that will affect the Owlz’s future is unclear.
A plan for a new sports complex in Windsor has been in the works for several years, with the proposal backed by a contingent of investors that includes former Colorado Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs. Plans have called for the project to be developed over 100 acres at the existing Diamond Valley Sports Complex, with the new slate of amenities to cater to multiple sports. A multi-use facility would anchor the complex, and previously proposed details on that venue had made it the subject of speculation as a potential draw for a professional baseball franchise.
The future of the Owlz has also been the subject of speculation in recent years, as Katofsky previously attempted to relocate the team to Pueblo, CO to occupy a proposed new ballpark. The potential Pueblo ballpark was pitched as part of a larger downtown development initiative that would include new hotels, which would be financed Katofsky and serve the Owlz’s new home as well as a youth sports complex. However, Pueblo County pulled the plug on the project last summer after the proposal encountered a variety of political hurdles.
Katofsky’s ambitions for a sports complex/development are now shifting to Windsor. Some elements of the proposal will change under Katofsky, who is taking over for Steve Chasteen and will lead a group that still includes Spilhorghs as an investor. His iteration of the proposal is still expected to include a multi-use facility as the anchor, but he is stopping short of declaring plans to move the Owlz there. More from The Coloradoan:
Katofsky would not specifically say if he would move the Owlz to the complex, only saying “right now, the Owlz are in Utah.’’
However, there are indications a move could happen. He told the Pueblo Chieftain last year that his team’s lease is coming up and he was looking at six cities that would fit into the Pioneer League. Any move would require Major League Baseball and Pioneer League approval. The Pioneer League includes teams in Utah, Idaho, Montana and two in Colorado. The Colorado Rockies have a team in Grand Junction, and the Milwaukee Brewers have a team in Colorado Springs.
The multi-use stadium Katofsky envisions in Windsor is similar to the Owlz stadium. It would have permanent seating for about 3,000 with additional room on surrounding grass berms and concourse standing room to increase capacity to 6,000. He said adding people on the field would increase capacity up to 20,000. He said the venue would host youth and high school games of various sports, graduations and concerts.
He said the earliest construction could start is this fall but that could be pushed back to late winter. He is obligated per the agreement with the town to have one multi-use field in by March and another one by March 2022.
When plans to move the Owlz to Pueblo were discussed last summer, the idea was viewed as a way to solve travel issues for the Pioneer League. The 2019 season is the first for the former Helena Brewers in Colorado Springs, where they are now known as the Rocky Mountain Vibes. Colorado Springs is by far the most eastward market in the Pioneer League’s footprint, located 285 miles away from the circuit’s closest city: Grand Junction, the home of the Grand Junction Rockies. A Pueblo franchise would have become a natural travel partner for Colorado Springs, as the two cities are separated by roughly 43 miles.
By comparison, Windsor is 125 miles from Colorado Springs–nowhere near as close to Colorado Springs as Pueblo, but still close enough to make it a better travel partner for Colorado Springs than Grand Junction. In theory, a Windsor-based franchise would help alleviate the travel concerns that have surfaced from having a Pioneer League team located in Colorado Springs, but it is not at all certain at this stage if Katofsky’s leadership in the sports complex project will make that a reality.
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