Spooky Nook latest: More than 2 dozen events already booked for 2022

Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill is close to having about 30 sports weekends booked for 2022, and they will be locked in once the local booking system is in place.

The immense indoor sports complex is still scheduled to open around the end of this year, but events are being scheduled for April and later, Lisa Disbro, the facility’s director of hospitality, recently told an online audience gathered by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

So far, the only event announced for Spooky Nook has been the 65th Model T Tour held by the Model T Ford Club International from July 17-22, 2022. That was announced in June.

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But, Disbro said, “We also have (about) 27 sports weekends that are booked, that we’re waiting for us to have the (booking) system up and running. So suddenly it will be reported that we went from one event to 30 events in a matter of a few days.”

Disbro and Matt Lengel, a former NFL player who is director of facility operations in Hamilton, said the facility still is aiming for an opening around the end of 2021.

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Lengel said the complex may open in phases, although the company is hoping to open the sports complex and convention center/hotel at the same time. Spooky Nook has faced some construction supply shortages because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also had its partially finished indoor-soccer-field-building collapse earlier this year. That building remains collapsed on the property.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Disbro told an audience of mostly business people that they can count on seeing events at the immense indoor sports complex and convention just about every weekend through the year. The original Spooky Nook Sports location near Lancaster, Pa., “has events 51 out of 52 weekends this year.”

Disbro said those athletes, who on many weekends will belong to 200 teams, will spill over to restaurants, shops and hotels not only in Hamilton, but also Butler County and beyond.

Sports tournaments, which generally peak from March through July, can draw 10,000 or more athletes and their families from several-hour drives, with some even flying to attend significant events, she said.

Benefits for Hamilton

Lengel said a variety of restaurants and bars, as well as the fitness center, will be available to local residents, and there will be no charge to get inside and visit the shops. There will be fees to join the fitness center, which Disbro said is about $30 to $40 per person in Pennsylvania.

There will be a 1,000-space parking lot north of Spooky Nook for use by visitors, Lengel said. But fitness center members will have their own parking lot with a separate entrance to the fitness center so they don’t have to deal with the sports crowds on their way to working out.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“It’s free to enter our facility, and we want as many people from the community to come in as possible,” Lengel said.

There will be a beer garden, Municipal Brew Works’ second location, and a Petals & Wicks store, with more on the way. There also will be a food court and a bakery inside. The community will be able to participate in classes for yoga, spin and other exercise types.

The company plans to hire about 500 people, 100 full-time, and 400 part-time. Some employees can be as young as 14.

Beautiful places for events

On the conference/hotel side of the complex will be ballrooms and views of the river and the “B Street canyon” of the other side of the former Champion Paper mill, Disbro said.

The 8,900-square-foot, two-story Hamilton Ballroom can host 600 people for a banquet, and, “It’s going to be gorgeous,” she said.

Another ballroom will be 6,000 square feet and can hold about 400. Above that will be the Butler Ballroom, at 4,000 square feet.

A 3,000-square-foot meeting room called Waterfront Hall will have incredibly tall windows.

The hotel will have 233 rooms, with a mix of king-size and double queen-sized beds.

The hotel rooms also will be distinctive, because designers allowed beams and other parts of the former paper mill to remain in the structure. Some hotel rooms will have ceilings 25 feet tall.

“Wait until even just the windows are updated along the river side,” Disbro said. “It’s going to be really spectacular.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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