Sold-out Spooky Nook gala is tonight; first event in new space

Though it’s not game-day ready, the first public showing of the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill is tonight to a few hundred people.

The sold-out Play Ball Gala is sponsored by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and is the first official event at the 1.2 million-square-foot event and sports complex that bisects North B Street in Hamilton. While the chamber had to hurdle a few challenges, Bates said, “We guarantee that everyone will have a spectacular experience.”

Chamber President and CEO Dan Bates said there have been some unexpected setbacks — the certification process of the elevators may not be completed prior to the event. But he said they have pivoted and moved some third-floor activities to the main floor.

“There are some challenges but the event is moving forward and we guarantee everybody will have a spectacular experience,” said Bates. “We are dealing with people who have mobility issues on an individual basis.”

The orchestra, jazz band, full bar, access to food, and aerial performances are set to be on the first floor.

Bates said a letter was sent to attendees stating they’ll assist anyone with mobility concerns, and “we have turned a negative into a huge positive.”

“We shifted gears, we figured it out,” he said.

Spooky Nook is opening in phases. The Warehouse Hotel, which is attached to the Champion Mill Convention Center, started taking reservations earlier this month. The convention center is expected to open soon, and the indoor sports and event facility on the other side of North B Street should open later this summer.

Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill is also to be home to several second locations Hamilton businesses, including Sara’s House, Petals & Wicks, and Municipal Brew Works. There will also be some unique shops inside the complex, as well as the Forklift & Palate Restaurant, an eatery that’s at the original Spooky Nook in Pennsylvania.

The complex is projected to have an annual economic impact of $100 million as it can host multiple events simultaneously. And downtown Hamilton restaurants and shops, which are a short walk or drive south of the complex, aren’t the only businesses that will benefit from Spooky Nook. Neighboring communities are also anticipating economic boosts as thousands of visitors are expected to be in Hamilton every weekend.

Spook Nook spokesperson Mackenzie Bender said they look forward to hosting the Play Ball event today. Though the elevators are installed and functioning, certification is needed for them to be operable.

“Right now, all energy is focused towards ensuring a remarkable experience tomorrow night,” she said.

The Play Ball Gala will be the first event at Spook Nook, despite it being pushed back a month from its original April date. Bates said he wanted the chamber to host the first event at Spooky Nook as he previously told the Journal-News the complex “is the grandest thing that’s ever happened, not only in this town but in the county. It’s unlike anything that exists and to just do an event where people would do tours, I don’t think would do it justice.”

Spooky Nook will be a valet-only event as there is still construction happening, and North B Street will still be closed to through traffic until the end of the month, according to the city. Traffic will move northbound on North B Street from Main Street and Park Avenue. No traffic will be allowed to enter from the Black Street side of the complex.

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