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Five injured in brawl at sports bar

Police say a tussle from one bar moved to another and exploded during Monday Night Football.

By LEANORA MINAI

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 20, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- With minutes remaining in Monday's game between the Bucs and Rams, a fight erupted in a Central Avenue sports bar.

Pool cues, fists and bottles flew.

A manager at Extra Innings Ballpark Cafe was forced to close the bar before the end of the Monday Night Football game, which further aggravated the crowd. In the end, five people suffered minor injuries.

"It was a very intense game. Very intense. And some tempers flared," said Ed Mlotskowski, owner of Extra Innings at 1850 Central Ave.

No arrests were made.

The fight was a carryover from an earlier altercation at the WingHouse on Fourth Street N, said Officer Dan Bates, police spokesman. Some patrons were ejected, and they moved to Extra Innings Ballpark Cafe.

Police estimated the crowd at Extra Innings at 600 on Monday night, but the fight involved about 50 people in the upstairs NASCAR-themed bar.

"It happened right after the Rams took the lead," Mlotskowski said.

Blane Huegel, a 20-year-old University of Florida student, was watching the game when, all of a sudden, pushing and shoving erupted behind him.

He was pushed and knocked to the floor. He suffered a cut above his eye and needed stitches.

Kitchen manager Brian Morris, 35, heard the commotion.

He went upstairs and tried to stop the fight but was hit on the head with a beer bottle, opening a cut.

"He went down and just curled up into a ball while punches and kicks rained down on him from various suspects," said Bates, the police spokesman.

Bartender Jamie Lashenal, 34, was struck on the left shoulder with a pool cue as he tried to break up the brawl. He got an elbow to the nose. And someone bit him on the wrist, drawing blood.

Customer and Bucs fan Kristen Katzel got slugged in the jaw and missed the end of the game.

"It basically turned into a mini riot," the 19-year-old said. "There were women taking pool sticks and throwing them around. I talked to one of the girls who works there, and they found like 15 broken pool sticks."

Over the year, officers have been called to Extra Innings 24 times for a variety of reasons. The owner says the record is good, considering 19 weeks of football and monthly pay-per-view events.

"This is the first time we've had a problem like this," he said.

So what caused the brawl?

"Male testosterone," Katzel replied.

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