Hamilton council approves city government building sale to aid sports complex

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
What the mega sports complex at the former Champion Paper mill might look like - especially the hotel, convention space

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Hamilton City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to sell the city government tower at 345 High St. to a community authority and lease it back over anywhere from five to 30 years as a way to fund financial assistance Hamilton has promised the Spooky Nook gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center.

There was only one significant indication of how talked-about the issue has been. That was when Vice Mayor Michael Ryan offered a short statement before the vote, explaining to residents who are concerned about the financial arrangement, and saying he had experienced those same concerns.

“Bringing Spooky Nook to Hamilton is the very change we need,” Ryan said.

He said he understood why people would fret over whether selling the seven-story government tower “is in our best interest as a city.”

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The authority plans to borrow about $26 million, about $10 million of which would go to pay off the city building, with other funds going toward Spooky Nook grants and loans, and some going toward a Gilmore Road roundabout.

Under the arrangement, the city will pay $1.4 million in annual rent, the same amount it now is paying on what it owes for the building, which was dedicated in 2000. The authority will use that pledged $1.4 million from the city to borrow to provide funds for Spooky Nook.

“I know it’s difficult to hear. It’s difficult to consider,” Ryan said. “I know, because I have felt the same way. And I have spent weeks, and countless hours, researching and analyzing all the whys, the hows, and the what-ifs of the sale.”

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Ryan noted the proposed Spooky Nook at Champion Mill project, which will be on the same scale as the existing Spooky Nook complex in Lancaster, Pa., which is called the largest indoor sports complex in North America, is expected to create hundreds of jobs.

Officials say it also will consume large amounts of electricity, which should help keep residents’ rates stable, and attract a million athletes and their families to the city each year to visit Spooky Nook and other Hamilton businesses.