Pueblo City Council backs downtown baseball plan
Author: Kara Mason - June 13, 2018 - Updated: June 13, 2018
Pueblo’s next economic development venture could be into a sport it knows well: baseball.
Local leaders are lining up behind a pitch from county commissioners to seek a downtown stadium and minor league team. On Monday city council members gave their blessing, inching progress forward on the project.
The decision to support the project was unanimous, despite some earlier concerns from some council members, Pueblo Chieftain reporter Peter Roper writes. However, Pueblo County Commissioner Terry Hart noted during the meeting the approval of the resolution was far from a done deal.
While support is growing, Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz, who ousted longtime Pueblo politico Liane “Buffie” McFadyen in 2016, isn’t sold. The commissioner has thrown a “curveball at the project,” Chieftain reporter Anthony Maestas wrote late last week.
Oritz told the paper he wants more information first:
“At this point, I believe the public has seen mainly glossy renderings of possibilities without the numbers and studies that really should justify our substantial investment as a community into a complex and risky project such as this,” Ortiz told The Chieftain Friday.
He went on to say:
“I, too, am excited to see nice glossy photos of possibilities for moving our downtown area forward, but my job as a commissioner is to manage a bottom line, ensure we can make payroll, protect integrity with our voters and only sign off on deals that provide a greater return to the community than the investment required.”
Local news station KOAA News5 spoke with the owner of the baseball team earlier this year about the project. While the station isn’t revealing the owner’s identity, they did tell reporter Andy Koen the relocation of the team could happen thanks to the Pueblo County taxpayers.
“The owner told reporter Andy Koen that Pueblo taxpayers deserve credit for this good news because they passed Ballot Issue 1A which let the County keep excess tax revenue rather than refunding it.
The so-called ‘debrucing’ measure requires the county to spend that money building a Youth Entertainment Sports complex at the Runyon Sports Complex. The ball club owner said the new youth sports fields attracted him to Pueblo more than anything else.
He plans to invest $50 million building new hotels, restaurants and retail shops in downtown Pueblo. In exchange, he would use the new youth sports fields to host traveling tournaments for a few weeks each year. Similar tournaments regularly bring in 400 to 500 hundred players who would all need places to eat and sleep.”
City council member Dennis Flores reportedly said Monday night he believes those numbers check out, per the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation.