Pueblo City Council endorses minor-league baseball stadium plan
12 June 2018
City Council gave its unanimous endorsement to Pueblo County's plan to locate a minor-league baseball stadium in the Downtown during its regular meeting Monday.
Commissioner Terry Hart emphasized the resolution that council approved wasn't a final decision, but it was clear county officials had persuaded council members to endorse the project to this point.
Councilman Mark Aliff said the stadium would become a "crown jewel" of the community.
District 2 Councilman Larry Atencio said it would be good for economic development while Council Bob Schilling said the county only wanted a gesture of support and city taxpayers won't be at risk.
Councilman Dennis Flores said the team owner would be investing $55 million in the stadium project. And he said the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. had checked his finances.
"I give him an A-plus," Flores said.
Council President Chris Nicoll noted that he'd been cautious about endorsing the plan but said the city also needs to cooperate with the county.
"It's not our job to block their projects," he said. "I want the Downtown to develop."
Even District 4 Councilman Ray Aguilera voted for the resolution, although he'd been highly critical.
While the owner of the minor league baseball team hasn't been publicly identified -- although city and county officials have met with him -- but Hart noted the owner's plan is to build three hotels in the city to support youth tournaments.
The stadium itself would be financed by directing a portion of any growth in tax revenues to the project, called tax-increment financing.
Nicoll had raised sharp questions about whether the owner had a business plan the city could have confidence in and Hart assured him he'd become convinced.
"The elements are there to make it work," he said.
Nicoll also said the city would have other chances to voice its opinion on the plan as it goes ahead. Schilling said all the resolution council approved Monday night was a vote of goodwill for the project.
"Do I think (the stadium) would be an asset to this community? You bet," he said.
Hart noted that financing for the project would have to be scrutinized by any banks that would assist with financing.
The project got challenged as well. Citizen Joe Latino said Runyon Field was available, historic and could be improved.
"We don't need another stadium," he said, getting some applause.
Rod Slyhoff, president of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, said the city needs more hotel rooms.
He said Runyon didn't meet professional baseball standards but the new stadium would.