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Blaze damages sports bar

Published Oct. 9, 2005

(ran NS, S editions of B)

Fire destroyed a portion of a sports bar in North Tampa on Thursday, but that didn't stop the owner from planning to reopen Friday night in time for the National Basketball Association finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns.

"I'm one of these guys that just doesn't quit," said Mikel Kennedy, owner of the Scoreboard Sports-Spirits-Eatery, 13417 Nebraska Ave.

The fire, which officials said was started accidentally by an employee, destroyed a wooden pavilion connected to the back of the lounge.

The blaze started about 6:15 p.m. inside a barbecue grill and spread quickly to the tin roof of the pavilion, Hillsborough County Fire Capt. Cliff Hitchman said.

The employee left the barbecue grill unattended while he went inside to get more lighter fluid "and when he came back the whole place was ripping," Hitchman said.

Despite that, there was very little smoke or water damage to the inside of the building, Hitchman said. Damage was estimated at $18,000, authorities said.

"We thank God it didn't get into the major part of the building," said Kennedy, who was annoyed by earlier news accounts stating the lounge had been destroyed.

"We're going to serve beer, and I'll probably let people order pizza in until we can get that portion cleaned up," Kennedy said.

Publicity is nothing new to the business complex at the corner of Fletcher and Nebraska avenues. The Scoreboard shares a common parking lot and address with the Todd Theatre, an adult movie theater and video store that Hillsborough County is trying to close.

The two businesses are not physically connected, nor are they owned by the same party.

"What happens at the Scoreboard has no effect on us," said the theater's attorney, Jeffrey Blau.

Last April, Hillsborough commissioners refused to grant permission for the Todd Theatre to stay in business at its current location. Blau has filed suit to appeal the county's decision.

The county's current adult use ordinance, adopted in 1988, said adult business could not be within 2,000 feet of homes, parks, schools, churches and day care centers. The 25-year-old Todd, which has been at its current location since 1986, is 500 feet from houses.