TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Nov. 30, 2016 — Spooky Nook II: Electric Boogaloo

Spooky Nook has gone from being the name of a small road intersecting Route 283 just west of Lancaster, Pa. to a phrase synonymous with field hockey in the United States.

In fewer than three years, the Spooky Nook Sports Complex has grown not only in functionality — hosting tournaments and recreational events in many sports — but in capacity; it is estimated that a million people have visited the complex thus far this year.

Sam Beiler, the owner of Spooky Nook, announced in the last couple of days that he is going to try to replicate the sports complex’s success by converting an abandoned paper mill in Hamilton, Ohio, a town about 20 miles north of Cincinnati. There are two buildings on the site; a six-sided building on the northwest side of B Street, and a long, narrow building between the southeast side of B Street and the Miami River.

At first blush, it seems like a good idea. The early plans, as disclosed to The Lancaster New Era, include a hotel, indoor recreational courts, and a restaurant. Mind you, there isn’t  isn’t a specialized field hockey component to the facility, and there isn’t a lot of room for a 120-yard by 80-yard competition surface without putting it somewhere inside the old mill.

The new Spooky Nook at Hamilton Mill is scheduled to open sometime in 2018, subject to timeline and financing. It’s the finance that one might worry about, because I think this transaction is a bit riskier than at first blush. The cost of construction and acquisition is somewhere around $38 million, and a lot of that, I believe, is going to be leveraged equity from the value of the original Spooky Nook complex.

In other words, if there is an economic downturn, or if there is a delay in construction, or if there is chemical remediation that delays the project, the continued operation of the Lancaster site could be in jeopardy.

Then again, Beiler is an experienced franchiser, having overseen some 1,100 Auntie Anne’s Pretzel locations. He knows a thing or two about calculated risk, and this certainly fits the definition.

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