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OREM — The Orem Owlz might not be moving to Colorado, after all.
The Pueblo Chieftain reported Wednesday that Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky, who announced last month a plan that would move the Angeles’ rookie-league affiliate from its Utah County home, appears to be backing out of the deal.
"It is with disappointment that I have to report that I have received word that the owner of the Orem 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)," said Pueblo’s director of Urban Renewal Authority Jerry Pacheco. "I have been contacted by local media and had to confirm that I did receive an email this morning that hinted at that fact."
Katofsky announced his plans to relocate the franchise that had been based in Utah County since it was the Provo Angels in 2001 a month ago with a proposal that would’ve seen the owner build three hotels for hosting national youth baseball tournaments in exchange for a $25 million multi-purpose baseball stadium.
But the plan seems up in the air, according to the Pueblo County commissioner.
"The project can happen. It also can die," Pueblo County commissioner Sal Pace told the Chieftain. "There are people trying hard to kill it. These people are very committed to have no change or growth in Pueblo."
When reached for comment, the Owlz reaffirmed that Katofsky has not formally pulled out of the project, though Katofsky acknowledged to KOAA News in Pueblo that the city was "moving the goalposts" with regards to the hotel and stadium development.
"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," Katofsky wrote in an email to the city's project participants.
When Katofsky announced the franchise’s relocation, he did so in a press release that included a lifelong desire to create a national youth baseball tournament, with facilities to match, to "help develop young players from all over the country."
"Utah County has been my family’s second home for almost 15 years," he said in a statement at the time. "This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but this is an opportunity to involve and teach our kids baseball, and hopefully leave a mark."