What’s next for the giant Hamilton Spooky Nook project in 2019?

Construction at the former Champion Paper mill on North B Street — the future home of the approximately $144 million Spooky Nook at Champion Mill gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center — will be apparent in early 2019, leaders of Hamilton and the project’s development team have said.

That construction should curb most skepticism that still remains about the project two months after the city approved financial incentives for the development, they believe.

Also in early 2019, Spooky Nook owner Sam Beiler, who already operates North America’s largest indoor sports complex near Manheim, Pa., expects to finish arranging financing for the project. Beiler, a former owner of the Auntie Anne’s pretzel company that has stores in many malls, will personally be guaranteeing more than $60 million of the project, City Manager Joshua Smith has said.

After Hamilton resident Mark Kidd pointed out the project has its risks during a council meeting in late October, Smith conceded the development, like almost every commercial enterprise, has its risks. On the other hand, “Do you think a guy would invest as much money as he’s investing, and personally guarantee over $60 million in loans?”

Council Member Tim Naab earlier this year said when Beiler sold the pretzel company he received more than $100 million, which will enable him to personally guarantee the $60 million in loans. Smith noted would mean if the project were to fail, Beiler would have to repay the $60 million in loans.

Smith noted Beiler has already operated the existing sports complex for five years that had been converted from a gigantic flooring-materials warehouse and successfully ran Auntie Anne’s.

“Do you think he’d put $60 million, plus the $25 (million) he’s going to have into it on the line if he didn’t think it was going to work?” Smith added.

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Beiler, who after retiring when he sold Auntie Anne’s became bored and depressed, and became re-energized by rehabbing buildings and later by creating Spooky Nook, is clearly passionate about sports facilities, and the beauty and architecture of the former Champion Paper mill, officials have said.

He has told Hamilton audiences that when the former paper mill’s currently bricked-over windows are reopened and light streams through, the sight of it will be awe-inspiring.

“When you walk in there, I want people who have a memory of that as an operating company to feel like it felt back in the day,” Beiler told one group. “I think the beauty is there, and it’s going to be an incredible addition to the city.”

The complex is to be finished by June 30, 2021, under development agreements with Hamilton.

MORE: Spooky Nook to include 2nd largest convention space in region

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