Citing frequency of police calls, Hilliard officials poised to challenge Sports on Tap's liquor license

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
Sports On Tap, 4030 Main St. in Hilliard, is the subject of a hearing the city of Hilliard has requested with the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control.

Hilliard officials have requested a hearing before the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control concerning the renewal of a liquor license used by Sports on Tap, 4030 Main St.

The license is held by MCHC Management, Inc., according to a resolution that Hilliard City Council unanimously approved Feb. 8 to ask for the hearing.

City officials said they are concerned about the frequency of Hilliard Division of Police calls to the establishment, according to the resolution.

City Manager Michelle Crandall said she informed the owner of Sports on Tap, Steve Messinger, in advance that the city planned to request the hearing.

“There are significant issues involved, including a demonstrated disregard for the laws, regulations and ordinances of the State of Ohio and City of Hilliard, including repeated fights, resulting in some injuries; criminal damaging; bartender requests for assistance with intoxicated patrons who were over-served; weekly responses by HPD to the establishment in summer 2020; and prosecution of individuals for OVIs who admitted to drinking at this location before driving," the resolution said.

City attorney Phil Hartmann said the city can ask for the hearing to be dismissed if a resolution is reached with the owner, but he appealed to City Council on Feb. 8 to seek the hearing and said he had been in contact with the owner’s attorney.

David Ball, director of communications, identified the owner as Messinger and the attorney as Jim Gilbert.

“These are serious and significant concerns, but the city has not entirely closed the door on the possibility that they might be addressed to our satisfaction by the owner of the business," Ball said. "If such a resolution is possible, it might not be necessary to follow through with such a requested meeting with the liquor commission."

The liquor license that Sports on Tap uses was to expire Feb. 1, but per Ohio House Bill 404, licenses that would normally expire Feb. 1 have been extended until July 1, Ball said.

The extension is related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to Hartmann.

The Ohio Revised Code requires that legislative objections to the renewal of permits be filed within 30 days of the expiration of the permit, Ball said.

No hearing is scheduled until the liquor-license holder applies to renew it, he said.

“We do not believe (Sports on Tap has) filed to renew yet,” Ball said.

Messages left by ThisWeek via calls to Gilbert’s office and to Messinger at Sports on Tap were not returned, although Gilbert’s office acknowledged one call was received and said Gilbert was not available “for a few days” the week of Feb. 8.

According to Hilliard police records, 71 calls for service to Sports on Tap were recorded in 2020, with all but 14 occurring June 1 or later.

Sports on Tap also is one of the local establishments approved to participate in Hilliard's Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, which has specific guidelines, times and boundaries in which the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages are permitted in public rights of way.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo