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Orem Owlz to remain in Utah County after Colorado baseball stadium project falls through

SHARE Orem Owlz to remain in Utah County after Colorado baseball stadium project falls through

The Orem Owlz will be staying in the Beehive State.

A little over a month ago, Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky announced he would move the franchise to Pueblo, Colorado, contingent upon a baseball stadium project — dubbed the YES project — coming together in the Colorado town to become the new home of the Owlz while also further developing its youth baseball program.

That deal, however, has fallen through, Katofsky and Pueblo County officials said Monday. That means the rookie affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels will remain in Orem.

"I cautioned that the transaction was preliminary and there were a lot of details to finalize the deal. In the end, some within the City of Pueblo, as well as other related governmental agencies, were either unable or unwilling to consummate the written and oral promises that were made to our ownership groups," Katofsky said in a release from the Owlz ownership group.

Pueblo County Commissioners Terry Hart and Sal Pace confirmed that the project, which has been met with opposition, will not go through, the Pueblo Chieftain reported.

"After the flurry of activity last week, they have come to the sad conclusion they need to cease working on the YES project," the two commissioners said in a statement, according to the Chieftain.

Katofsky said the goal of the Owlz ownership group was to invest close to $50 million "in order to revitalize Pueblo through sports, tourism and growth that would bring literally thousands of people to Pueblo weekly during baseball season."

In addition to building a baseball stadium, the project included an $8 million expansion of youth baseball fields at the Runyon Sports Complex in Pueblo and the building of three hotels downtown with a combined capacity of at least 350 rooms, Katofsky told TV station KOAA last month.

When the Owlz announced their intention of relocating in June, 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.”

"Unfortunately, those opposed to this economic juggernaut had the louder voice. For whatever reasons, we seemed to believe in Pueblo more than this outspoken minority," Katofsky said.

Hart and Pace shared their disappointment for what bringing the Owlz and upgraded baseball facilities could have done for the Pueblo community.

"We believe that it was a worthy project for our town because it would have given Pueblo a multi-use stadium, which would have been built by the owner's own tax payments to our community; we would have received $50-million in new associated Downtown private development; it would have allowed us to host multi-state youth baseball tournaments and have a major league-affiliated minor league baseball team; it would have provided a wonderful anchor for further development of HARP and downtown Pueblo; and, it would have delivered a huge economic boost to our community," the commissioners stated, according to the Chieftain.

The Owlz's organization has been a part of the Utah County community since the early 2000s. The then-Provo Angels joined the Pioneer League in 2001, playing at BYU's Larry H. Miller Field. In 2005, the team moved to Orem, was renamed the Owlz and has been playing its home games at UVU's baseball stadium — now called the UCCU Ballpark — ever since.

"The Owlz will continue to enjoy the most beautiful ballpark in all of Minor League Baseball and its positive relationship with Utah Valley University. We wish our friends in Pueblo success and prosperity," Katofsky said.