Greater Hamilton chamber CEO/president: ‘We want to make it an event that’s memorable that is talked about for years’

The opening event for Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill will be unlike anything anyone has ever seen in Butler County, promised Greater Hamilton Chamber President and CEO Dan Bates.

Play Ball is set for 5 to 10 p.m. April 20 at the convention center and hotel at Spooky Nook, and for a 1.2 million-square-foot multi-use complex, the gala should emulate the facility’s anticipated grandness.

“Spooky Nook is the grandest thing that’s ever happened, not only in this town but in the county,” said Bates. “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.”

He believes attendees at the $100-a-ticket black-tie optional event will drop jaws.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Spooky Nook will not be completed by the time the gala comes, but the convention center and hotel ― which incorporates 600,000 square feet of the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill ― is on pace to be completed this spring, said Spooky Nook Marketing Manager Bonnie Bastian and Spooky Nook Director of Facilities Matt Lengel.

“Our construction is on track for this side,” said Bastian of what’s dubbed Mills 2. “It’s really exciting for us. It will be the first event here, and we’ll open with a bang.”

Mills 1 is the multi-use facility that makes up the other 600,000 square feet of the complex that is bisected by North B Street and has a Great Miami River view. It’s on pace to open later in 2022, Lengel said.

Spooky Nook Champion Mill will be one of the largest convention centers and indoor sports facilities in the country. It will also be home to second locations of Hamilton businesses, such as Sara’s House, Petals & Wicks, Municipal Brew Works, and other unique shops. There will also be the Forklift & Palate Restaurant, an eatery that’s at the original Spooky Nook in Pennsylvania.

Chamber Communication Strategist Jeff Archiable said while passers-by can’t see all the internal work, they will see property improvements.

“The windows should all be in soon,” he said. “When people drive by, they won’t see the flapping of the insulation.”

Also, the property will be cleaner as it gets closer to April 20, he said.

At the April 20 event, attendees will be able to see the 233-room hotel space and the 16 conference rooms that total around 35,000 square feet of meeting space.

Conference rooms range from around 9,000 square feet to around 3,000 square feet.

The Play Ball gala will feature multiple types of entertainment, such as jazz blues and orchestral music, as well as aerialists and a dancing area.

“We want to make it an event that’s memorable that is talked about for years,” Bates said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

ExploreMore stories by reporter Michael D. Pitman


When: 5 to 10 p.m. April 20

Where: Champion Mill Conference Center, North B Street

What: Play Ball is the first official event at Spook Nook Sports Champion Mill. This VIP grand opening gala will include food and beverages, entertainment, music, tours, dancing and a commemorative gift for attendees.

More info: To register for the event, visit, and to be an event sponsor, email Nancy O’Neill at

About the Author