Hamilton schools promised free access to Spooky Nook

Deal for $90 million complex includes tax abatement, potential for proms and more.

Perhaps as early as 2019, Hamilton High School might have its prom at one of the largest indoor sports and entertainment venues in the country without leaving city limits.

If the proposed $85 million to $90 million Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill is built in Hamilton, the mega sports complex will have a special place for Hamilton’s public schools, the school district has announced.

Spooky Nook Sports, which operates the largest indoor sports facility in the country in Manheim, Pa., near Lancaster, plans to build in Hamilton on the former Champion Paper site on B Street near the Black Street Bridge.

The Hamilton Board of Education last week approved a 30-year, 100 percent Tax Increment Financing agreement with the city and Spooky Nook Sports Ohio LLC.

The school district also announced it has entered into an agreement with Spooky Nook to give the district “free use of the facility on three different dates annually for 30 years.”

One or two of those dates each year will be used for fund-raising events, and, “The third date will be for prom, and the district is pleased that we will have a first-class venue in Hamilton to hold this event off school district premises.”

“That’s really cool,” Hamilton High sophomore Anna Rowland said when told about the plans. “It’s something different for the city.”

Another sophomore, Kole Lavender, said the plan sounded good to him: “It sounds cool. I think it would be interesting.”

Lori Schwab, a biology and forensic-science teacher at the high school who is the lead faculty planner for this year’s prom, was pleased to think about the possibilities.

“It does definitely open up new possibilities for planning,” she said.

One big advantage the Spooky Nook connection could mean for the school would be the addition of After Prom events — fun through-the-night festivities that keep the students together enjoying one of their final weekends together, with the related advantage of keeping them out of other trouble.

“Anything, change-wise, is scary but good,” Schwab said. “It would give the kids the opportunity to have the prom of their dreams. Anything that would make it more special for them, I’m definitely for.”

Spooky Nook in Manheim has about 14 acres of indoor sports fields, courts, training areas, fitness facilities and other athletic amenities under one roof, and a complex of similar size is planned for Hamilton.

Spooky Nook founder Sam Beiler in January announced hopes of starting construction on the facility in June. The work is expected to take 18 months, possibly making the facility available for a prom in the spring of 2019, if things go as hoped. In addition to being a sports complex, Spooky Nook also would host conventions and trade shows.

About the Author