HAMILTON, Ohio — Construction has begun on North America's largest indoor sports complex.
The former Champion Paper Mill building is being redeveloped as a massive new Spooky Nook Sports facility. Several dozen local business owners and community leaders traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to see the first Spooky Nook location and see the impact it's having on the economy there.
"I think, for us, it opens up opportunities and possibilities for small businesses," said Chamina Curtis with the South East Civic Association.
Curtis was looking specifically for how the facility would impact Hamilton's second ward with housing and economic development.
"We want to unite out community," Curtis said. "How can we be ready for when this hits?
For Sherry Hoskins, the owner of Petals & Wicks, the trip was an eye-opener.
"We're expanding our bar over here. We're remodeling our model. We'll put in another full bar over here, so we can have more capacity for people to come in when they're at Spooky Nook," she said.
Hoskins said Lancaster business owners she met were expecting a 30 percent increase in business before the first Spooky Nook opened.
"They got a 250 percent increase in business because of Spooky Nook," she said. "If we get a fraction of that, we'll be really happy."
Dan Bates is the president of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. He said having the community prepared is key.
"It's a game-changer. It's a huge opportunity for the communities around us," he said. "This isn't just about Hamilton. Hamilton may be the epicenter, but hotels and restaurants, activities around us, are going to benefit from this."
The planned development includes an athletic facility, 250-room hotel, restaurants and convention center.
"We believe in it," Hoskins said. "We truly believe in Spooky Nook. We have from the beginning."