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Sports training facility slated for empty Citrus Park store looks to include Tim Tebow

TAMPA — Negotiations are nearly complete to add another prominent name to the list of investors in a sports training and medicine chain's first foray into Florida: Tim Tebow.

D1 Sports Training, which runs a dozen other facilities mostly in the South and Ohio, is known for signing high-profile athletes as co-owners of its locations.

Tebow already co-owns a D1 location in Savannah, Ga. D1 said the Denver Broncos quarterback and former University of Florida Gator is likely to invest here also, and talks are nearly wrapped to sign him at or near the end of the Broncos' season.

"We're just trying to just finalize everything with him right now," corporate spokesman Matt Toy said last week. "Part of the reason we can't announce anything right now is that he's just so focused on the season. Plus we have a few details to work out."

The new training facility is set to open Monday at the former Circuit City electronics store on Gunn Highway in Citrus Park.

So far, it has backing from Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones Jr., the Atlanta Braves third baseman who grew up in Florida; and professional wrestler Chris Jericho, who has a house in Tampa.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks is signed to promote the facility and has equity in it.

Brooks, who described himself as an "ambassador" for the facility, said he became involved because he liked the concept of "training kids in the proper way."

"It teaches you about the different training styles and what kids should put into their bodies and not put into their bodies. There's an emphasis on sportsmanship," he said. "And it affords them the same opportunity to be trained by a professional that the pros get. That's something I never had when I was a kid."

D1 was formed by former University of Tennessee fullback Will Bartholomew.

He was to play for the Denver Broncos, but blew out his knee during his first training session with the team and founded the company in 2002.

D1 combines intense training with sports medicine. The facilities have a reputation for attracting pro and college athletes during the offseason and rehab assignments, but also cater to anyone who wants to work out.

The idea behind D1 was to offer serious athletes a training facility comparable with those at the college and pro levels.

"I wanted to help scholastic athletes train like a Division 1 athlete. That's where the name D1 comes from," Bartholomew said.

The Citrus Park site includes a 60-yard artificial-turf football field and an attached sports-medicine clinic operated by Drs. Christopher MacLaren and Kevin Scott of Westchase Sports Medicine Orthopedics. The two are investors in the D1 location.

Since summer, D1 has pumped about $1.7 million into renovations and workout equipment at the former Circuit City, which shut down in 2009 after the company went out of business.

Membership costs range from $150 to $250 per month, generally more than a membership at a health club but typically less than the cost of a personal trainer, which can run $70 a hour.

"It's not like a regular gym," Toy said. "You just can't walk in and jump on a treadmill. Everyone works with trainer and progresses through a specific set of goals."

The Citrus Park location will be its first in Florida. Bartholomew said talks are under way to expand in the state, but he wouldn't reveal details.

He said he picked a Tampa Bay location because of its similar demographics to the Nashville area where the first D1 opened.

Bartholomew started planning the move two years ago and approached local athletes to gauge their interest as investors and users.

"Not only are there a lot of great athletes in Florida, but it's very competitive from an athletic standpoint and it felt like the area was primed for a great training location," he said.

Sports training facility slated for empty Citrus Park store looks to include Tim Tebow 12/27/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 10:57pm]
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