The Orem Owlz will stay in Utah despite the recent announcement to move to Pueblo, Colorado. Baseball fans in Utah can now count on the local team for many years to come.
The Owlz released an official statement in July saying they would be relocating to Colorado and would be part of a baseball stadium project called the “YES” project. The team hoped to come together with Pueblo’s residents to develop a youth baseball program.
It has always been Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky’s dream and goal to open a youth sports facility for boys and girls to learn baseball, team sports and leadership.
That deal, however, has fallen through, according to Katofsky and Pueblo County officials. The Owlz released a statement on July 23 disclosing the details of the previous agreement as it relates to its future plans.
“I cautioned 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.
Pueblo County Commissioners Sal Pace and Terry Hart confirmed that the project — which was met with resistance by the people of Pueblo — will not go through.
Katofsky said the Owlz ownership group’s goal was to invest $50 million in an effort to “revitalize Pueblo through sports, tourism and growth that would bring literally thousands of people to Pueblo weekly during baseball season.”
The project also included the $8 million expansion of youth baseball fields at the Runyon Sports Complex in Pueblo, as well as three hotels in downtown Pueblo with a combined capacity of at least 350 rooms, Katofsky told KOAA TV in June.
“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.
Pueblo commissioners Hart and Pace spoke about their hopes 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 allowed us to host multi-state youth baseball tournaments, have a major league-affiliated minor league baseball team and it would have delivered a huge economic boost to our community,” the commissioners said, according to the Chieftain.
The Owlz are a rookie league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. The team was based in Provo, Utah, from 2001 to 2005, during which time it played at BYU’s Larry H. Miller Park and was known as the Provo Angels. The team was renamed the Orem Owlz and moved its games to UVU’s baseball stadium — Utah Community Credit Union Ballpark — in 2005.
“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.