Jeff Katofsky, the owner of the Orem Owlz, is betting big on Pueblo.
"I’m going to sign on the dotted line for about $50 million bucks, I’m taking a lot of risks, but I believe in Pueblo."
Katofsky is moving his rookie league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels to Pueblo beginning in the 2020 season. He sees Pueblo as a city on the rise, and he said the community’s planned $8 million expansion of youth baseball fields at the Runyon Sports Complex won him over.
"I’ve been trying to put a youth facility together for youth sports almost for 15 years," Katofsky said. "(I) wanted to do it in Utah, spent a lot of time trying to do it in Utah. When it started looking like it wasn’t going to happen, I started to look elsewhere as a possibility."
Katofsky coaches little league teams himself and even met his wife at a baseball camp for underprivileged kids. His desire to create a youth baseball tournaments drove his decision to move the team almost 600 miles east across the Continental Divide.
Another reason? He wants the public stadium to be an anchor for downtown Pueblo to help jumpstart the local economy.
"You have a fabulous downtown, that doesn’t have an anchor," he said. "If you bring an anchor, it will revitalize downtown; the restaurants get busier, the bars get busier."
Katofsky quickly recognized that Pueblo needs more downtown hotels during his first visit here. The Owlz regularly book around 1,300 room nights each season. Its safe to assume their opponents will be booking a similar number of rooms once the team moves.
"I looked around and I said ‘I can’t do this, you don’t have enough hotels.’ Katofsky said. "They said, ‘Well, we’ve got to find someone to build hotels.’ And I said, ‘I’ll build them.’ They said, ‘You’ll build them?’ And I said, ‘Yes’ and that started the process."
The multifaceted deal calls for Katofsky to build three new hotels downtown with a combined capacity of at least 350 rooms. Katofsky expects another 500 families a week to visit Pueblo for the youth baseball tournaments he plans to create. The various components of the deal are expected to create around 400 new jobs.
County leaders and Katofsky will make an official announcement about the team’s relocation Wednesday morning at 11:00 the Runyon Sports Complex. News 5 will be there and will have full coverage of the announcement.