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Popular Pasco County sports bar next to large depression reopens ahead of big night for Tampa sports

Pasco County

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – A huge hole in a highly-populated, well-traveled area of Pasco County continues to grow.

Pasco County Emergency Management officials said Thursday the depression, which opened up on Spring Haven Boulevard in New Port Richey Monday, just keeps growing and is now 70 feet deep.

The sinkhole-like depression sits on private property where the popular Trinity Varsity Club is located along Little Road.

The well-known sports bar was evacuated on Wednesday and shut down, deemed unsafe by county officials and marked with a bright orange sticker, posted on all entrance doors.

Then, on Thursday, the owner of Varsity Club was thrilled to announce that his restaurant would reopen, just in time for two Tampa Bay teams to take the field in their respective sports as both the Bucs and the Rays had big games.

Dave Berlo climbed a ladder to hang the ‘open’ sign out front, just moments after the county came back to scrape off the orange sticker on the front door of the sports bar.

“Pasco County did a great job. They’ve been out here every day, if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be open,” said owner, Dave Berlo. “We’ve had people out here today, they say the sinkhole is stable, still moving, but stable for now.”

For Berlo, the journey has been difficult this year, already being closed at one point this year due to COVID-19, the Pasco businessman admits it hasn’t been easy but he’s grateful for his staff, loyal customers, and, ultimately, the county.

“Employees are back to work, they’re happy. It’s just a good feeling to be back open,” Berlo told us.

Customers were thrilled when they heard their favorite restaurant had reopened.

“This is our favorite spot and we’re glad to be here,” said regular, Steve Dempsey.

His buddy, Brian Bartley, echoed that sentiment, thrilled to be out for the night, and watching the Rays take on the Yankees and the Buccaneers take on the Bears.

“They’ve always done well by us out here, support us as their clients, they take care of us. I’m sure that’ll happen again tonight, we’re grateful for him being open again,” said Bartley.

A team of USF researchers visited the property Thursday and created 3D images of the depression.

Associate professor Lori Collins described what it looks like under the concrete.

“Above the ground, you think you’re fine on the pavement. They were walking on air almost,” she explained. “There was nothing holding that pavement up!”

That’s why the area remains fenced off for security purposes and more teams will be back out on the property to survey the land on Friday.

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