HAMILTON, Ohio — Despite delays caused by a March wind storm that blew down the steel skeleton of a building that was to contain an indoor soccer field, Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill plans to be open by April at the latest.
All weekends from April through August are booked, owner Sam Beiler told Hamilton City Council on Wednesday.
“Every weekend will bring between 8,000 and 10,000 people a day for a variety of tournaments,” said Beiler, whose original immense indoor sports complex is near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and attracts similar-sized groups. “Some are basketball and some are volleyball. Some are probably futsal (a form of indoor soccer) or wrestling.”
Beiler showed council a video of what the convention center that is part of the $165 million project will look like. The complex will have large ballrooms, meeting rooms and a 233-room hotel.
As construction progresses and company officials are more confident of an earlier completion than April, they will book events prior to April, Beiler said.
He also announced the facility’s third tenant: Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Ohio, whose medical staff will be the first to aid athletes injured at the sports facility. They will be able to X-Ray them on-site in the 22,000 square feet of space the company will rent, and also can refer patients for imaging such as MRIs at its other facilities.
The first two Spooky Nook tenants announced were Municipal Brew Works and Petals & Wicks, each planning to open a second Hamilton location.
On Wednesday, the day of Beiler’s presentation, he estimated 200 construction people had been on site that day, including 40 drywall hangers and finishers inside the hotel.
That same day, he said, crews poured 26 truckloads of concrete at the facility, with the same amount expected on Thursday. Those workers do their jobs from 2 to 8 a.m. because of high demand at local concrete plants.
Beiler showed council what various ballrooms, hotel rooms and other parts of the convention center will look like. The hotel-room images were accurate down to the furnishings, colors, windows and curtains, he said.
That center will occupy the part of the former Champion Paper mill that’s between North B Street and the Great Miami River. The building west of B Street will house the sports facilities, including a 90,000-square-foot space that also can be used for trade shows and other exhibit space, such as the gathering of Model T cars next summer.
Mayor Pat Moeller, after seeing images of the convention center and hotel, predicted: “When our citizens and our visitors go inside that building it’s going to be just an incredible ‘wow.’ ”
Beiler said he believes beautiful views of the Great Miami River from the convention center and hotel will help stir interest from many groups in booking there.
Council Member Carla Fiehrer asked Beiler to repeat how long a bar at the facility will be. His answer: 68 feet long.
“I keep telling people that and they don’t believe me,” Fiehrer said.
Beiler said he is pleased with the current progress, given the collapse of “Building 500,” which is at the southern tip of the complex west of North B Street. It is to house the indoor soccer/football/lacrosse field on artificial turf and is attached to a building that will contain the fitness center that local people are invited to join.
The steel structure of that building “has finally been separated” from the fitness-center building. With that steel disconnected, it now is safe for workers to pour concrete floors for the fitness center, he said.
Now that underground utilities have been installed along B Street, utility poles along the sidewalks can be removed toward the end of this month, and “B Street is going to clean up really nicely,” he said.
It will have improved sidewalks people can use to walk to Main and High streets and decorative street lamps.
As of Wednesday, Beiler estimated 17 windows had been installed to replace ones they resemble from the former paper mill. Some 50 more were to arrive Monday. The window installation was caused by supply-chain issues that have happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“It’s not a problem other than that they’re a couple of weeks behind where we expected them to be,” he said. “So that time will need to be made up between now and the end of October, early November. Otherwise, we’ll have to temporarily close the windows up again, and that’s a wasted effort.”
The complex will have several hundred windows, some of them very large.
Hamilton business owners, some of them having expanded or opened new shops, are looking forward to Spooky Nook’s opening. On the other hand, motorists are dreading the increased traffic that may happen on weekends when thousands of vehicles arrive in the city, contributing to congestion that already happens on High and Main streets on weekdays.
Beiler said work is progressing well on the sports complex part of the facility, west of B Street. Polished concrete floors have been installed in several areas, and an outdoor football field has been graded and has had its drainage system installed.
This story was originally published by WCPO 9 News partner, the Journal-News.