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Spooky Nook, Miami University campuses discuss sports partnership

Operators of the Spooky Nook at Champion Mill complex now being developed have worked regularly, month-by-month, in recent years to develop relationships with area sports teams and leagues that may train at, or host sports competitions, there.

They’ve also been discussing with officials on Miami University’s Oxford and Hamilton campuses how they can work together at the facility that is scheduled to open in mid-2021, most likely with the university’s club sports, which compete against teams from other schools.

Another thing Spooky Nook and Miami have been discussing is meetings of the many associations that Miami’s professors are involved with. Spooky Nook will include Greater Cincinnati’s second-largest convention-center space, behind Cincinnati’s Duke Energy Center.

“We expect that their students on the intramural sports side will be interested in using space here,” said Spooky Nook’s founder and owner, Sam Beiler, whose original Spooky Nook location, near Manheim, Pa., is North America’s largest indoor sports complex. Beiler describes it as 14 acres under one roof, plus outdoor fields and facilities.

Beiler said Miami University’s Oxford campus has an impressive number of intramural and club sports teams.

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“With 50-plus dedicated teams, Miami Club Sports boasts one of the largest programs in the country,” according to the university website. “We offer a unique combination of community and commitment while we compete for national titles and develop real-world leadership skills.”

RELATED: A look at Hamilton’s funding sources for Spooky Nook

Miami’s club sports, which compete against clubs from other schools, include men’s and women’s baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, bowling, boxing, broomball, clay shooting, cycling, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, fishing, football, men’s golf, gymnastics, men’s and women’s ice hockey, ice skating, men’s and women’s lacrosse, martial arts, paintball, roller hockey, rowing, rugby, running, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, table tennis, volleyball, men’s and women’s ultimate Frisbee, men’s and women’s volleyball, beach volleyball, waterskiing and water polo, among others.

Miami’s Oxford campus has 17,240 undergraduate students, and 1,500 athletes participate in the more than 50 club sports, with more than 300 events and 1,000 practices.

Miami’s sports clubs have won more than 35 national championships during the school’s history, according to university spokeswoman Claire Wagner.

Intramural sports, on the other hand, compete on campus between teams made up only of Miami students.

Aside from that, Miami’s Oxford campus has more than 700 intramural teams that compete on campus against teams made up of other Miami students. The intramural program has more than 3,000 participants who play 1,900 games, for a total of 20,000 participation hours, Wagner said.

Ruchelle Dunwoody, Miami’s director of intramural sports, said club sports would be more likely than the intramural ones to be involved with Spooky Nook, “because most of our stuff is on campus, and we don’t need transportation (to intramural games), where the club teams and some of the other groups would probably be able to use it more than we would.”

Beiler said Spooky Nook and university officials also have discussed the fact that many Miami professors belong to associations in their specific fields.

“Those associations have meetings once or twice a year — quite large meetings,” Beiler said. “And there hasn’t been space available of significant size for that. So I think there’ll be an aspect of a relationship with Miami that’ll be related to the students, but then there’s a business side that they’re excited to support as well.”

Also, with Miami’s Oxford and Hamilton campuses, “We look forward to working with them in terms of internships and other student opportunities for employment,” Beiler said.

MORE: Groundbreaking held for “transformational” Spooky Nook project

Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller during last week’s groundbreaking at the North B Street former Champion Paper mill site thanked Cathy Bishop-Clark, who is Miami University’s associate provost and dean of Miami University Regionals, as well as Chris Connell, Miami’s regional senior director of administration, “for working on creating partnerships between the Nook and Miami University.”

Miami’s Connell, like Wagner, noted it is so early in the process there are no agreements in place.

“Me, personally, I am thrilled about this, being a lifelong Hamilton resident,” Connell said. “I see this, like a lot of folks, as a catalyst to continue expansion of new restaurants, nightlife, retail and all kinds of stuff. So I think it’s the biggest thing to hit Hamilton.”

Another thing that excites Connell about Spooky Nook for Miami students is the hundreds of part-time jobs the complex will have: “I thought this is fantastic for a student to be able to get their four-year degree right here on the Hamilton campus and be two miles away from a potential employer is a wonderful opportunity for our students.”

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