What’s the impact of Hamilton’s coming mega-sports complex? Area officials will take a trip to find out

Officials from rural Ross Twp., which is just minutes from Hamilton, are joining a junket to the massive Spooky Nook sports complex in Pennsylvania next week to learn about the facility that will open a Hamilton location.

Township Administrator Bob Bass and Trustee Tom Willsey are two of 30 local government and business people making the eight-hour trek to Manheim, Pennsylvania on Monday to experience the impact the huge development could have here.

“The Chamber of Commerce has done a good job of selling the fact that this could have tremendous regional impact on the economy, based on the fact that the one in Pennsylvania does,” Bass said. “As a result of that we want to go see what it is and how it may or may not effect Ross Twp. in the future.”

RELATED: With $2.5M investment, Butler County says Hamilton’s Spooky Nook will be boon for entire county

According to an economic analysis performed by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, Spooky Nook’s Pennsylvania complex had $15.5 million in revenues last year, with another $5 million at the Warehouse Hotel within the sports complex. The company last year had about 150 full-time employees and as many as 450 part-time seasonal workers. More than 1.1 million people (470,000 from outside the immediate area) visited the Pennsylvania site in 2017.

Sponsored by the Greater Hamilton Chamber, the trip travelers include officials from Ross, Hamilton, Miami University Hamilton and a host of local businesses.

Dan Bates, chamber CEO and president, said this will be his fourth trip to the original Spooky Nook. He said they invited Ross along on this trip because “they have some big economic development plans in their future that they’re working on” and they want to help further those goals.

“We’ve really been working with our business community and trying to get the businesses to understand the potential impact of Spooky Nook when it comes,” Bates said. “We’re looking at all the arterial roads that will be coming to Spooky Nook and certainly that impacts Ross.”

Bass said the township is looking at both the positives and negatives such a huge development might bring and trying to prepare as much as possible.

Living next door to a major city had a downside a couple of years ago after a drive-by shooting happened there and the suspects tried to escape through the township. Ross Twp. police Capt. Jack Tremain and officer Larry Johns chased — climbing steep hills and crashing through vegetation — the suspects and eventually helped apprehend them.

RELATED: Ross Twp. honors officers who caught Hamilton murder suspects

Bass said officials are examining all aspects of the giant new neighbor.

“I can surmise we are going to get more traffic volume through town,” Bass said. “Whether that parlays into more businesses or not I don’t know. That’s part of what we want to go go out and see, how it actually has effected that area… We’re looking at it from the total impact side of it.”

No Butler County officials were on the guest list for Pennsylvania trip, despite the fact the commissioners have pledged $2.5 million towards road infrastructure for the project. Commissioner Don Dixon said they have been asked on junkets to the Spooky Nook site before, but they already know what they need to about the project.

“Nothing is all positive, there’s always some negative effect,” Dixon said. “But by far when you get an activity like that or a user like that the benefits outweigh the negatives… You can plan what you want to plan but in reality, until you open the door and turn the lights on, you can build it and see if they’ll come, that’s the deal.”

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