Hamilton’s future sports center hopes to partner with FC Cincinnati

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Hamilton’s future sports center hopes to partner with FC Cincinnati

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Fans cheer on the FC Cincinnati team as they play English Premier League team Crystal Palace last year at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Cincinnati’s professional soccer franchise may consider a future mega sports facility in Hamilton as a training site, according to the club’s general manager and president.

Developers of Spooky Nook converted a former flooring-materials warehouse in Lancaster, Pa., into 14 acres of indoor sports courts, fields, training areas and entertainment facilities.

The proposed Hamilton site — Spooky Nook at Champion Mill — would be approximately 600,000 square feet, with a restaurant and hotel.

Hamilton, as well as other cities, made a pitch to FC Cincinnati to be a host for its training and other related team events, according to FC Cincinnati General Manager and President Jeff Berding.

“Hamilton made a very good pitch and they have some very good ideas going on there,” Berding said. “But we are really focused right now on our MLS application and have become sidetracked with looking at this.”

FC Cincinnati, a second-year professional entry in the United Soccer League, is one of a handful of teams seeking to gain admission into Major Soccer League, which is planning to expand.

Contingent on getting that nod, Major Soccer League requires teams to have a soccer-specific stadium. FC Cincinnati recently unveiled plans to build a 25,000-seat, $200 million soccer-specific stadium on eight to 10 acres of land in either Cincinnati’s West End/Over-the-Rhine area, Oakley or Newport, Ky.

Spooky Nook Sports developer Sam Beiler said the Hamilton facility would be capable of handling FC Cincinnati’s training needs.

“I believe the facility in Hamilton will reflect very closely to what we’ve built here in Lancaster, Pa.,” Beiler said. “At this facility we support the women’s national field hockey team — that is the Olympic field hockey team that trains here on a daily basis.”

“We have international (field hockey) matches that occur here against countries from really around the world,” he said, adding that the original Spooky Nook will be hosting the Pan America Cup competition this summer. That field hockey competition consists of eight men’s and women’s teams from North America and South America, he said.

But any possible plans between FC Cincinnati and the future Spooky Nook at Champion Mill are only conversations, he said.

“We expect to work with FC Cincinnati at some level — either with club teams they develop or training. But any extensive agreement hasn’t been discussed at any time recently. We don’t have any plans for FC Cincinnati to locate in Hamilton at this point.”

Not having a training facility in place won’t affect FC Cincinnati’s application with Major League Soccer, Berding said, noting finalizing a stadium location and financing are more important at this time.

Still, he said, a possible partnership will be revisited down the road with Spooky Nook at Champion Mill.

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