Spooky Nook progressing in Hamilton, but plenty of work to go: Here’s the latest

This photo shows what the large, historic-looking windows will look like at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, reflecting the original ones that were at the Champion Paper mill. PROVIDED
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This photo shows what the large, historic-looking windows will look like at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, reflecting the original ones that were at the Champion Paper mill. PROVIDED

“Many, many times,’ it would have been easy to abandon project, owner says. But he’s glad he didn’t

Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill should be open by April 2022, but the country’s largest indoor sports complex, which also will have a convention center, is a long way from completion, a presentation by its owner showed last week.

Spooky Nook founder Sam Beiler, who operates the original Spooky Nook facility near Lancaster, Pa., told council he is pleased with how construction is progressing now, and every weekend is booked at Spooky Nook from April through August 2022.

Even after the October 2018, groundbreaking, “the challenges were almost stunning sometimes,” Beiler said.

Polished concrete floors are being installed, with some 26 concrete trucks in a day, and the first dozens of what will be hundreds of windows like the original ones at the former Champion Paper mill have been installed, following pandemic-related supply-chain delays, Beiler said.

Beiler said the steel skeleton that was to enclose an indoor soccer/football/lacrosse field “has finally been separated” from the building that will house the fitness center, allowing progress to accelerate in the fitness building.

Beiler showed images of the polished concrete inside the building that will house 90,000 square feet of sports courts and that also can host indoor exhibits, such as next year’s Model T convention there.

This is a recent photo of the polished concrete in what will be a large room where many simultaneous games of basketball, volleyball and other sports can be played. It also can house large exhibits, such as next summer's Model T exhibit. PROVIDED
Caption
This is a recent photo of the polished concrete in what will be a large room where many simultaneous games of basketball, volleyball and other sports can be played. It also can house large exhibits, such as next summer's Model T exhibit. PROVIDED

As for “Building 500,” which will house the indoor turf field, “We’re very happy to see that getting cleaned up and taken off the site so we can get a fresh start there again,” Beiler said. He said he “would have preferred to do it the first time, but, hey, you know, second time’s a charm, I guess.”

By the end of this week, all the steel should be gone, so it can be replaced by the new steel skeleton, he said. That building is not expected to be finished when the rest of the complex opens.

The grand staircase that will be a centerpiece of the convention center’s lobby has not yet been installed, but dozens of drywallers have been working on the interiors of the hotel’s 233 rooms, Beiler said. About 200 people were working on the site daily last week, he said.

This is the beginning of the grand staircase that will be in the lobby of the convention center at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill. PROVIDED
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This is the beginning of the grand staircase that will be in the lobby of the convention center at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill. PROVIDED

Around the end of this month, after testing of underground electric lines has finished, utility poles that line B Street at and near Spooky Nook will be removed, “So B Street is going to clean up really nicely,” he said.

This is what the grand staircase will look like in the convention center at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill. PROVIDED
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This is what the grand staircase will look like in the convention center at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill. PROVIDED

As Spooky Nook leaders become more confident when the facility will be finished, they hope to move the opening date sooner than the tentative April opening, Beiler said.

Each weekend that already has been booked should attract 8,000 to 10,000 athletes and their families to Hamilton, Beiler said. That comes as good news for the businesses that have opened or expanded in anticipation of Spooky Nook’s opening by Jan. 1, three months earlier than the currently projected opening date.

The complex will have about 1.2 million square feet of space.

“That’s almost double what we have in Pennsylvania,” when the mezzanine and hotel floors are included, Beiler said. “We’re at about 700,000 square feet there.”

“So we’re packing it in. It’s a lot of square feet in those buildings.”

ExploreEvery Spooky Nook weekend from April to August 2022 now booked: The latest on the project

It has been a difficult process, Beiler said.

“We’re going to open one of these days and look back at the slog of a fight that we had to get here,” Beiler said. “There were many, many times when any of us could have said, ‘You know what? This is getting a little too hard,’ and would have not been wrong to step back.”

“But I’m glad we battled through it,” he added. Even the last year and a half, you know, the challenges were almost stunning sometimes. But every time I walk through the building, every time I give another tour, I remember why we started and really can’t wait to get the first people into the building. It will be phenomenal.”

Here's an image of a ballroom at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill. PROVIDED
Caption
Here's an image of a ballroom at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill. PROVIDED