Owlz planning move to Pueblo, Colorado

Orem's potential relocation pending approval from MiLB, MLB

Orem's UCCU Ballpark will remain the home of the Owlz for at least two more seasons. (Orem Owlz)

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com | June 21, 2018 10:00 AM

The Orem Owlz are taking flight to Colorado, the team announced Wednesday.

Orem, the Rookie-level affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, released a statement that said the team will "likely" relocate to a new stadium in Pueblo -- located 45 miles south of Colorado Springs -- following the 2019 season at the earliest. The plans remain subject to the approval of Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball.

Orem said it had "mixed emotions" about the pending move. "The relocation date, at least two seasons away, is yet to be determined. The date will be released as soon as possible."

"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," Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky told KOAA.com.

Tweet from @mestas3517: Jeff Katofsky, Owner of the Orem Owlz talks about why he chose to bring his team to the Steel City. pic.twitter.com/iQr9OFvy4X

The news comes a day after Ballpark Digest reported that an unnamed Pioneer League team would announce its intention to move to Pueblo on Wednesday. The site said the Owlz are "in need of a new facility in the next two-to-three years because of lease issues, as the team's current home is slated to be closed and demolished." 

Orem's UCCU Ballpark, which boasts some of the most spectacular views in professional baseball, was constructed 13 years ago for $6 million. It has a capacity of 5,000 and is located on the campus of Utah Valley University -- the Owlz share the stadium with the Utah Valley Wolverines baseball team.

"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," Katofsky said in the team's statement. "We have loved our time in the Provo/Orem and surrounding communities."

Katofsky said the organization plans to keep the "Owlz" name in Pueblo.

"It will still be the Owlz," Katofsky said in a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday. "The first name will change, not the last name. We spent a lot of time on branding and marketing. We will change some of the logo sets to incorporate the locale here, but we will keep the Owlz name. We are hoping to have first pitch here in 2020."

Ballpark Digest said Pueblo County "will issue taxable certificates of participation for up to $25 million, to be backed by tax increment financing." The project also includes an expansion of youth baseball fields, which Katofsky said was a major factor for him.

Katofsky will also construct three new downtown hotels near the stadium to accommodate visitors, fans and visiting teams. They're also central to his plans to expand his youth baseball program in Pueblo, a plan he said he couldn't put together in Utah.

"I looked around and I said 'I can't do this, you don't have enough hotels.' Katofsky told KOAA.com. "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."

Orem Owlz alumni include Mark Trumbo, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart, Kole Calhoun, Peter Bourjos and the late Nick Adenhart. The club was previously known as the Provo Angels from 2001-04.

Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog column, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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