Sports & Spirits bar demolished for green space - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Sports & Spirits bar demolished for green space

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

A perennial trouble spot for police is no more.

It's on the city's near east side, and a local business man said "enough is enough" and decided to do something about it.

"We want to honor the past. There was loss that took place here," the Rev. Roger Reece of Associated Churches says.

In recent years, the Sports and Spirits bar became synonymous with crime.

Over the past ten years, police responded to the bar more than 400 times for a dozen shootings, seven stabbings and 19 claims of shots fired.

The last straw came last September, when a shooting there killed three people and wounded two others.

The bar's owner surrendered the liquor license and sold the place to local businessman Mark Deister who owns surrounding properties.

Monday marked a time for new beginnings and a prayer for restoration of the property.

"Yeah, we're blessed to have the Deister family, the Deister Corporation and others who've stepped up in times, in bad situations to make them good," Reece says.

But not everyone was focused on the bad situations.

Payne Randle made a special stop to take some pictures and remember the good times he had at the bar.

"I have nothing but good memories. It was hurting me when I would see of somebody getting injured or, you know, a crime or something bad would happen, just because it would give the whole neighborhood a bad name. But I don't think that's the proper representation of what the Sports was," Randle says.

Sports and Spirits was right down the street from Indiana Tech, and Deister says the recently-retired president of the university called him Friday.

"He thanked me for what we are doing because he's had bullets go through his dorms over there, which are right there, when they had shootouts here. And so he called me to thank me again for what we are doing," he says.

In the coming months, once the area is converted to landscaping, Deister will put up a sign honoring the first two generations of his family in the business.

He hopes people will use the green space to honor others who were victims of violence there.

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