Abandoned Hamilton paper mill to get an economy-revitalizing $150 million makeover

HAMILTON, Ohio -- Champion Paper Mill, a cavernous building populated now mostly by empty paint cans and broken glass, could be the site of a $150 million opportunity for the city of Hamilton.

"I think people kept hoping somebody would come in and do something with it," resident Frank Downie said.

The owners of Spooky Nook Sports, North America's largest indoor sports facility, hope to begin constructing a sister facility at the former site of Champion Paper by 2020, according to city officials.

The gravel, peeling paint and spent fire extinguishers could soon be replaced by a 200-room hotel, a large convention center and a variety of indoor sporting fields, including 10 basketball courts and a baseball infield.

According to the Journal-News, Spooky Nook's existing Pennsylvania location had an economic footprint $55 million wide in 2017, and guests traveled from hours away to use its facilities.

"This adds a different dimension for us," Hamilton director of economic development Jody Gunderson said. "It hones in on tourism, and tourism is an industry for the city."

The investment could revitalize the entire city, Downie said. It's an especially exciting prospect for longtime residents like him who have watched the Champion building sit empty for years.

"People are believing in Hamilton in ways we haven't seen in quite some time," he said. "It's fun to be a part of it."

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