Pueblo County released a statement Wednesday that the owner of the Orem Owlz has not formally announced he was no longer moving the team to Pueblo, something he told News 5 himself.
News 5’s Andy Koen spoke with the team owner Wednesday night and he confirmed he is not pulling out of the deal.
Just spoke with @OremOwlz owner @JeffKatofsky He’s not pulling out of the deal, but said he was through some serious curveballs by City of Pueblo and HARP today. They need to work through those curveballs in order to move forward.
— Andy Koen (@KOAAAndyKoen) July 19, 2018
Katofsky said the city is "moving the goalposts" and said there are questions about land promised to Katofsky for development of hotels and a stadium.
He told News 5 he needs to begin breaking ground for those developments in order to move the team to Pueblo and begin playing in 2020.
The county released a portion of the email Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky sent to government officials involved in the project Wednesday.
That portion read:
“Thanks for all your help and effort in this matter. Based upon the new developments on your end, however, looks like Pueblo has killed the deal.”
Commissioner Sal Pace said he spoke with Katofsky several times after the email was sent and said Katofsky has taken no official position.
Other local media outlets reported Wednesday that Katofsky pulled his support for the deal, citing a letter from Jerry Pacheco, the executive director of the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority.
"It is with disappointment that I have to report that I have received word that the owner of them 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). I have been contacted by local media and had to confirm that I did receive a story that hinted at that fact. Subsequently, I learned that Pueblo County had been officially notified through formal channels. It will be up to Pueblo County to comment on the formal status of the project moving forward."
During an interview with Pacheco, he said, "I don’t know where the final negotiations are at this point…it’s up to Pueblo County to confirm, deny or give an update as to where this project is…in my humble opinion there is a small window. What happens in that window will dictate the final direction."
Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace responded to that letter as well as Katofsky’s email in a news release of his own, which read:
“I never read that email to mean that the project is done. If Pueblo wants him to develop $50-million worth of downtown projects at his own expense, have a minor league baseball team relocate to Pueblo, traveling youth tournament, and last but not least a stadium built with Katofsky’s own tax payments then he wants in on the project,” said Pace. “If Pueblo doesn’t want this economic boost then he’s not going to bring us his millions of dollars towards downtown development, jobs, and a minor league baseball team. As of today, no formal position has been taken.”
These developments come a little more than a month after a public announcement with Katofsky and Pueblo County officials announcing an agreement to move the Owlz to Pueblo.
At the time, Katofsky called Pueblo a city on the rise and said, "I’m taking a lot of risks, but I believe in Pueblo."
Katofsky told News 5 on June 19 that he was going to build hotels in the area to help house visiting teams and create hundreds of jobs. He also talked about wanting to create a youth baseball tournament at the Runyon Field Complex. Under the plan, the Owlz would have played their first game in Pueblo in 2020.