Hot SheetSouthern Colorado

Pueblo calls off baseball stadium after failed negotiations

Author: Kara Mason - July 30, 2018 - Updated: July 30, 2018

iStock-846214364-1-1280x853.jpg
(Photo by bernie_photo, istockphoto)

Some Pueblo government leaders had vivid visions of a downtown baseball stadium, just off the historic Riverwalk, being built by 2020. But those plans were abandoned last week after negotiations failed to get off the ground.

Some local leaders, such as city council president Chris Nicoll and county commissioner Garrison Ortiz, challenged the project’s financing. County commissioners Sal Pace and Terry Hart had first proposed using tax dollars set aside for a number of projects, including the Riverwalk expansion and a youth sports complex. Later, a possible TIF (tax increment financing) district was proposed, but that had to be approved by the city.

Hours before the Pueblo City Council could take up the TIF on Monday, the Orem Owlz, the minor league team which had announced they’d likely be moving to Pueblo earlier this year, said they would stay in Utah.

“I have always stated that it was a dream and goal of mine to have a youth sports facility for boys and girls to learn baseball, team sports and the leadership and athletic lessons that ensue. I cautioned that the transaction was preliminary and there were a lot of details to finalize the deal,” Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky said in a statement. “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.”

Estimations put the stadium at $25 million and would have been leased to the Owlz during the season, but Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority leaders said there wasn’t a strong financial foundation. The project would have also brought two hotels to downtown Pueblo. They were slated to be financed by private developers.

The Pueblo Chieftain reported that the Owlz were pulling out of the deal days before they had actually done so, citing an email from PURA CEO Jerry Pacheco that said Katofsky had pulled out of talks. County commissioners countered that reporting saying negotiations were very much still alive.

Following the collapse of the potential project, Chieftain reporter Ryan Severance reported that some government leaders blamed the demise on bad communication.

“This really is a classic example of something not happening because there wasn’t good communication with all the parties involved,” city councilman Dennis Flores told the paper. “There was a lack of information that was mind-boggling.”

Kara Mason

Kara Mason

Kara Mason covers southern Colorado, Aurora and statewide issues for ColoradoPolitics.com. She also writes for the Aurora Sentinel.