‘Monumental moment’ for Hamilton as city votes 7-0 for Spooky Nook

With silence that belied the importance of its decision, Hamilton City Council voted 7-0 Wednesday to approve development agreements that will help bring the Spooky Nook at Champion Mill indoor sports complex and convention center to be by summer or fall of 2021.

The vote will trigger an increased amount of work on the former Champion Paper mill, particularly on its exterior, with full construction work likely starting after the winter. It also sparks a public “celebration and groundbreaking,” with free food and drinks, at noon today at North B Street and the Black Street Bridge, next to the mill.

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While council members made no comments during their vote, Mayor Pat Moeller defended the project earlier in the meeting after a resident questioned whether the city’s $26 million investment in the $144 million project will be worth it, and improve the lives of Hamilton residents.

Council Member Tim Naab after the meeting said he believes the project will help Hamilton for decades.

“I just want everyone here and in the public to know all of the due diligence, all of the hours and dotting I’s, crossing T’s,” he said, adding Hamilton’s Spooky Nook decision “is the correct thing to do.”

“This complex will bring a plethora of opportunity to our city,” he said. Spooky Nook “is going to define Hamilton for the next 50 years to come, and hopefully a lot longer than that.”

After the meeting, Dan Bates, president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, agreed that council’s decision, at least two years in the making, was very significant.

“I think it’s a monumental moment,” Bates said. “And I think it’s going to be the most significant thing that has happened in Hamilton maybe ever, and a very significant thing for the entire region … from the edges of Cincinnati to the edges of Dayton.”

“It’s going to drive the economy throughout the entire region,” he said. “It’s investment in the future, which will bring jobs, money for streets, money for schools. This is the single biggest thing I think that we can do to positively impact our future.”

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Resident Mark Kidd before the vote asked, “What is the draw? Where are people going to come from?”

City Manager Joshua Smith said teams of athletes and their families drive from as far as 300 miles to the Pennsylvania Spooky Nook, and officials expect the same for the one in Hamilton. Officials also noted the complex, which will have its own hotel, also will contain Greater Cincinnati’s second largest convention space, behind only downtown Cincinnati’s Duke Energy Convention Center.

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