Last month, the Orem Owlz announced they would be relocating to Pueblo, Colorado, with team owner Jeff Katofsky eyeing a 2020 schedule for the move.
Now, that relocation is reportedly in doubt for the rookie affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels that has been a part of the Utah County community since the early 2000s.
The Pueblo Chieftain reported Wednesday that the plan to bring the Owlz to Pueblo — which included the creation of a $25 million multipurpose stadium — is up in the air.
An email from a Pueblo official, obtained by the Cheiftain on Wednesday, indicated Katofsky is walking away from the deal.
“It is with disappointment that I have to report that I have received word that the owner of the Orem Owlz, Jeff Katofsky, has declined to move forward with his plans to develop three hotels and will not move his team to Pueblo (into a new to-be-built stadium),” Jerry Pacheco, director of the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority, wrote to other officials involved in the project, the Cheiftain reported. “I have been contacted by local media (The Pueblo Chieftain) and had to confirm that I did receive an email this morning that hinted at that fact.”
A statement from Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace left the door open for things to still come together while acknowledging the opposition to the project.
“This project can happen. It also can die. There are people trying hard to kill it. These people are very committed to having no change or growth in Pueblo,” Pace said in a release, according to the Chieftain. “Let’s be very clear, these people are very close to succeeding again in their objective to prevent anything new from coming to Pueblo. In the meantime I’m going to keep working to make Pueblo a better community.”
When the Owlz announced their intention of relocating last month, Katofsky shared in a press release his dream of creating a youth tournament, with the facilities to host such an event, to “help develop young players from all over the country.” The longtime owner of the Owlz has been unsuccessful in creating a local baseball facility in Utah County that would have accomplished that goal.
“Utah County has been my family’s second home for almost 15 years. This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but this is an opportunity to involve and teach our kids baseball and, hopefully, leave a mark," Katofsky said in a release at that time.
It's what also what made the development project in the Colorado town so appealing, as Kotofsky noted Pueblo "embraced the concept and provided us with the opportunity to not only accomplish this legacy, but also to have a new stadium built for the Owlz.” Katofsky would not have paid for any of the stadium costs. The project, though, has encountered opposition and sparked debate for several months, according to the Chieftain.