By Anthony A. Mestas

The Pueblo Chieftain

PUEBLO — Minor League Baseball is still breathing in Pueblo even after several members of the YES project reported it was dead earlier this week.

Pueblo County officials said Thursday that the private developer and owner of the Orem Owlz, Jeff Katofsky, is still negotiating with Pueblo County to develop hotels in Downtown Pueblo.

So far, only Commissioner Sal Pace has commented on the progress of the project being on life support.

For the second day in a row, Katofsky did not respond to inquiries by The Pueblo Chieftain for comment.

Katofsky has not described the hurdles that have come up to cause him to send a letter to entities involved in the project.

In that letter, Katofsky wrote: "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."

That comment sparked local officials to report that the project was done.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the county said the hotels are critical to the proposal to build a multi-purpose stadium would also host a Minor League Baseball team.

"The county proposes to repay financing on the proposed $25-million Downtown stadium through tax increment financing," officials said.

County officials said Katofsky has not formally announced he's out of the deal, as The Pueblo Chieftain reported in an online article published Wednesday, based on Katofsky's letter and comments be several government officials involved in the project.

Pace and Katofsky did not comment on the situation until Wednesday evening after the article published. The story was updated with a statement from Pace.

"Pueblo County is continuing to pursue several alternative options for the hotel sites, after last-minute roadblocks emerged. At present, the county is not at liberty to share details about those options until the various options are thoroughly vetted," officials said.

Officials said members of the YES Project expressed disappointment that individuals critical to the project's success continue to undermine the county's efforts to improve the community's economy and quality of life. Late Wednesday afternoon, some project partners announced to media that the developer had pulled out of the deal.

"However, he has not formally made that announcement to Pueblo County, and is still working with the YES team to clear the latest hurdles," the statement said.