Shuttered – and troubled – sports bar could be razed

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The troubled and now-vacant Sports and Spirits Bar and Grill along East Wayne Street could be razed by a Fort Wayne company which hopes to buy the tavern and erect an electric sign on its site.

Deister Machine Co. Inc. has petitioned the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals for permission to put up a 17-foot-high electronic sign that would showcase company’s logo and a digital electronic board where Sports and Spirits sits empty at 1723 E. Wayne St. Deister builds mining equipment two blocks away at 1933 E. Wayne St.

The Sports and Spirits Bar and Grill at 1723 E. Wayne St. is shown on Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

Over the last decade, Fort Wayne Police were called to Sports and Spirits 436 times, including 12 times on reported shootings and seven times for reported stabbings. In September, the bar’s owners voluntarily relinquished their liquor license and said they do not plan to reopen the day after a shooting at the bar left three men dead and two more hurt.

According to Deister’s application filed with the city’s zoning board, it plans to buy the property only if its petition to erect the signs is approved. If is not approved, Deister wrote in the application, “the demolition of Sports and Spirits will not proceed, leaving the neighborhood with a vacant and deteriorating eyesore at best, or a new tavern at worst.

“Removal of Sports and Spirits and resulting illegal and unsafe activities will have a favorable effect. Sign will have negligible effect.”

Deister also plans to buy up adjacent properties to create green spaces, according to the application.

Mark Deister, president of Deister, released the following statement to NewsChannel 15:

“The tavern at the corner of Wayne and Anthony has been the site of some unfortunate events having a negative effect on the neighborhood. By buying the tavern, tearing it down and putting up a nice sign displaying messages of public interest, Deister Machine hopes to turn a negative factor in the neighborhood into a positive one – ultimately making a favorable impact on our community.”

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