Helping Spooky Nook: Hamilton council considering multiple moves to aid financing

Published: Saturday, May 25, 2019 @ 8:00 AM

Butler County commissioners officially agree to give $2.5 million for Spooky Nook.

As the proposed Spooky Nook at Champion Mill gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center continues work, the Hamilton City Council is considering multiple options for financing the project.

Several pieces of legislation that likely will receive votes at the June 12 meeting will put in place the ability to make financial incentives to the $144 million project that the city promised in October.

First, council is considering an ordinance allowing the issuance of taxable economic development revenue bonds for no more than $9 million that will be loaned for the project’s construction.

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RELATED: Butler County agencies helping make Spooky Nook a reality

“Bond proceeds will be loaned to Spooky Nook Ohio, Inc., or an affiliate thereof, to be used to construct permanent improvements at the Spooky Nook at Champion Mill site and to pay interest during construction on the Hamilton Community Foundation loan,” Finance Director Dave Jones wrote in a memo to the council.

Interest will be capitalized on the loan, “and no payments will become due until after Spooky Nook at Champion Mill is operational,” Jones wrote.

The company will repay the loan using “earnings before interest taxes and amortization. If insufficient funds are available to pay the debt, the city’s General Fund would have to pay the debt.”

A second ordinance would allow the issuance of $3 million in general obligation roadway improvement bonds.

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“The city is reviewing options from local convention and visitor bureaus to contribute up to $2.5 million for roadway improvements included in the Spooky Nook at Champion Mil project.” Jones wrote.

The bureau’s payment will be used to repay part of the bonds and would come from two sources — $2 million from the Warehouse Lodging Tax and Subsequent Lodging Tax, and $500,000 from the bureau’s general fund.

One ordinance would move forward with payments for energy-efficient improvements to the the project, and. another would set up a cooperative agreement between the city, the Butler County Port Authority and the Hamilton Community Authority that would allow the Hamilton Community Authority to use Energy Special Improvement District special funds and some amount of tax-increment-financing revenues to pay off bonds, and also provide some state grants for parking-lot improvements to the community authority.

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In an ordinance the council approved Wednesday established an Urban Redevelopment Tax Increment Finance Area that will exempt the former Champion Paper mill property from new real property taxes over 30 years.

Instead, the developer must make payments equal to what those taxes would have been, and those revenues will be used to repay bonds.

The city’s schools will receive “any amounts remaining once the city has been reimbursed for eligible expenses not to exceed $31 million,” Jones wrote.

ABOUT SPOOKY NOOK

• It will a gigantic sports complex and Greater Cincinnati’s second-largest convention center.

• The complex will be on the same scale as the original Spooky Nook complex near Manheim, Pa., which is North America’s largest indoor sports complex.

• Owner Sam Beiler describes as 14 acres under one roof.

• Construction started in December. It’s scheduled to open in mid-2021.