Crime-plagued sports bar denied alcohol license

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission on Tuesday cut off a plagued east-side sports bar, voting to deny the renewal of its liquor license.

The decision effectively spells the end for the Sports & Spirits bar at 1723 E. Wayne St. that has been the destination of police calls and violent crime for years.

Last September, the Allen County Alcohol and Tobacco Commission voted unanimously not to renew Sports & Spirits’ alcohol license, the local fallout of about 135 police calls over the last two years. The state upheld the decision soon after.

Last month, though, a hearing judge with the state commission issued a preliminary ruling that gave the bar’s owners – brothers Burke and Craig Baughman – hope the establishment could remain open. The decision fell on the four-member state Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, though.

That panel disagreed Tuesday.

Fort Wayne Police told Newschannel 15 in April that they were working to see the bar closed.

“Since i took over in narcotics in August of 2012, we’ve never actually focused on a bar because we’ve not really had those same issues. So, this is a very problem location and we’d like to close it down and be done with it,” said Captain Kevin Hunter of the Fort Wayne Police Department, Vice and Narcotics Division.

Burke Baughman, though, argued then that a majority of those calls weren’t for violence or drugs and over the last six months, police admit that they’ve responded to the bar a handful of times. However, police expect this to be a temporary fix.

“It has slowed down but it hasn’t stopped,” said Captain Hunter.

Baughman attributed the decrease in violence to opening earlier for lunch, closing earlier and watching the crowd. In fact, he said in April that his staff had turned away at least 50 customers.

“We were new to the business so we were learning, too, so, we’ve learned a lot over the last few years and we’re utilizing the tools that we’ve learned,” said Baughman.

It’s not clear when Sports & Spirits will have to close.

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