Spooky Nook vote postponed; funding pact still being worked out

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Dan Bates spoke with this news outlet about the economic impact of Spooky Nook Sports following chamber officials’ visit there.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

City Manager Joshua Smith has postponed a request for Hamilton City Council to vote on the proposed development agreement to create Spooky Nook at Champion Mill sports complex and convention center because that pact still is being finalized, he informed the council on Friday.

“Please know,” he wrote to council, “there is no doubt in my mind we will vote on the agreement in the near future. The outstanding issues are minor, but require time for both sets of attorneys to review.”

ExploreMORE: A look at Hamilton’s funding plans for mega sports complex

Typically on the Friday before the following week’s Wednesday-evening council meeting, city staffers send council members the legislation, staff reports and other information that the city’s elected officials need for that meeting.

“I am very sensitive to providing City Council ample time to review/ask questions,” Smith wrote to the council. “I do not want to submit the Agreement to you during or after the weekend, when you may not have appropriate time to review.”

“Unless we hear otherwise, look for the Development Agreement to be on the October 24, 2018, Council Agenda,” he added.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Spooky Nook owner Sam Beiler talks about plans to bring sports complex to

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Administrators appeared to have built in a time cushion weeks ago when they announced they hoped to hold the vote on Oct. 10, yet announced they planned to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for Spooky Nook construction on Oct. 25, the day after the following council meeting’s date of Oct. 24.

ExploreRELATED: Spooky Nook to include second-largest convention space in region

Smith and Spooky Nook owner and founder Sam Beiler have told the Journal-News that discussions and efforts to balance the project’s budget have been extraordinarily complicated, a reason the development pact has taken so long.

The “capital stack” of funding sources that will pour into the project is “the most complicated that I’ve seen, certainly,” Beiler said in August.

RELATED: Butler County asked to give $5 million for Spooky Nook

“The development agreement speaks to about eight other agreements,” Beiler said. “And all of them have to come together. So it didn’t really make sense to get into the overall development agreement without relative certainty that the other components would align as we needed them to.”

The project will include at least one hotel inside, plus a boutique hotel to be built in a second phase within the former Champion Paper Mill office building that faces the Black Street Bridge.

It also includes about a dozen restaurants or other stores that face outward toward North B Street and inward, toward the interior of the hotel building and convention space.

The Spooky Nook Sports Complex near Manheim, Pennsylvania is a 600,000 square feet multi-use sports, recreational and event space. A turf field hockey field is located outside and a turf field is inside the dome for sports of all kinds. The U.S. Women's National Field Hockey Team is based out of this location. A high school field hockey camp was going on while we were visiting. Spooky Nook Sports has proposed a similar facility in the former Champion Paper Mill located on B Street in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Caption
The Spooky Nook Sports Complex near Manheim, Pennsylvania is a 600,000 square feet multi-use sports, recreational and event space. A turf field hockey field is located outside and a turf field is inside the dome for sports of all kinds. The U.S. Women's National Field Hockey Team is based out of this location. A high school field hockey camp was going on while we were visiting. Spooky Nook Sports has proposed a similar facility in the former Champion Paper Mill located on B Street in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The project has many moving parts, said Beiler, who estimated there are a dozen components in the funding.

“After three years of work on the capital stack, I’ll bet we’ve explored no less than 50 options, or opportunities, to finance the project,” Beiler said.

The various funding sources have to be spelled out in the development agreement.

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Spooky Nook and the city have worked on a variety of complicated funding aids, including more than one form of historic tax credits, to finance the project, which will cost about $150 million. Also involved are loans that will be made available based on the project’s energy efficiency. Spooky Nook’s first phase is expected to be finished in the summer or fall of 2021.

Mark Hecquet, executive director of the Butler County Visitors Bureau, this week told the Journal-News his organization already has booked the AAU girls national championships, a 300-team event, for 2021.

Denise G. Callahan contributed