A one-time multi-million dollar sports and fitness facility could be reborn as home to one of the Tampa Bay area’s most popular craft breweries if Anthony Derby has his way. 

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Brew Bus Brewing and Florida Avenue Brewing Co. in Tampa says he is eyeing the former Sports + Field Family Athletic & Fitness Club complex on S.R. 56 to expand his current operations, and hopes to close on the property by the end of June.

“We love the property, we love that area of town, but there are some things we need to work out and plan for,” said Derby, who co-founded his brewing companies with his mother Toni Derby, who serves as the company’s chief financial officer (CFO).

Anthony says he, architect Ken Cowart — who also is the project architect for the St. Petersburg Pier — and land-use attorney Anne Pollack met with Pasco County planning officials on April 17, and Derby says the meeting went well.

Derby says he plans to spend $8-9 million on the initial phase/renovations of the project, if it continues to move forward, developing a full-service restaurant and bar while utilizing what was once an outdoor field for training athletes as a beer garden.

“The property has a great L-shape and that is going to help us create a nice little customer experience,” Derby says. “Right now, this property is a really big deal for us.” 

The outdoor area also will serve as a family-friendly activities area with games and events, and that was one of the things that made the property even more attractive, along with its location on a busy stretch of S.R. 56 and its proximity to AdventHealth Center Ice, one of Wesley Chapel’s busiest spots. 

The “bones” of the building itself remain in great shape, Derby adds, and he expects an extensive but fairly quick indoor renovation that could see the new craft brewery and restaurant open by this time next year.

It’s the next piece of the puzzle out here,” Derby says. 

The tasting room at Florida Avenue Brewing Co.

While Wesley Chapel has its fair share of bars, it is not yet home to a craft brewery and restaurant like Brew Bus Brewing and Florida Avenue Brewing Co., which is located in Seminole Heights, at 4101 N. Florida Ave.

The company produces Florida Avenue and Brew Bus-branded beers at that location, also serving food and offering tours of other local breweries in Tampa. 

The two-story building the Derbys are hoping to renovate as part of their expansion was originally developed by Strong-S Corporation and opened in 2005 as a $10.5-million fitness center that had multiple purposes. It held local basketball leagues on its NBA-sized court, and hosted a number of professional athletes who came there to train, like tennis player Jennifer Capriati and some of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It also offered a number of fitness and massage options for community members.

Sports + Field promoted itself as the only local facility offering elite strength training for professionals and amateurs. 

However, it closed in 2015, and while there was talk of a charter school or car dealership moving into the space, neither of those two plans materialized and the building has remained unused.

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