The 75 year old Indiana State Fair Coliseum is officially open and as modern as any structure that age can be, courtesy of a $63 million renovation that started a year and a half ago. Thursday the ribbon cutting for the beautiful facility was held followed by public tours later in the day.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence paid tribute to all those involved in the project, led by Indiana State Fair Commission Chairman Andre Lacy, for striking the perfect balance between preservation and modernization.
“And let me say Andre, and every member of the commission, you took the best state fair in America and just made it better! Thank you for your leadership and your stewardship. We’re just as anxious about preserving everything that was special about this place as we were about improving it, and we’ve achieved that objective.”
Pence added, “We’ve insured that this great State Fair Coliseum will be the jewel at the very center of the state fair for generations to come.”
The ceremony was an emotional moment for Lacy. He spoke of his fond attachment to the Coliseum.
“Just as I learned to cherish agriculture under Mr. Callahan at Pike Township so many years ago, this grand lady has served as a classroom for decades, showcasing some of Indiana’s most spectacular agriculture shows and competition. Little did I know so many years ago when I visited the state fair as a young man that I would be standing here today to re-dedicate her to the people of Indiana, renewed and restored to her former glory. Little did I know that she and I would be attached by vision, by leadership, by teamwork and by the dedication of so many, but we are.”
The Fairgrounds Coliseum is now home to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL hockey league and IUPUI basketball. State Fair Executive Director Cindy Hoye also announced a 7-event concert series in the Coliseum during the 2014 Indiana State Fair, which is themed “Year of the Coliseum.”
Populous did the architecture and engineering work while Hunt Construction Group of Indianapolis handled the construction.
Much of the building’s 75-year history was preserved by reinstalling 96 original seats; recreating the original terrazzo floor; and leaving original walls and steel support beams exposed. The renovation finished three months ahead of schedule and includes the adjoining Youth Arena, a 30,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose building that opened last August.
The renovation did little to change the outside appearance of the Coliseum, but the inside has been completely transformed and now boasts several amenities that include:
• A spacious lobby with elevators to carry guests up to the main concourse
• More than 70 wall-mounted flat-screen TV monitors throughout the building
• Full ADA accessibility
• A double-tiered seating bowl with great sight lines from every seat
• An overhead LED video scoreboard and a video ribbon board that goes around the seating bowl
• A second-floor concessions area that allows visibility into the arena
• A state-of-the-art sound system
• Sound-absorbing walls and ceiling attachments for optimal acoustics
• A curtain system that allows for natural or artificial lighting
• A new, larger Skate Shop serving both the Coliseum and Youth Arena
The new Coliseum’s first event takes place this Saturday when the Radio One Women’s Empowerment Series gets underway at 10 a.m. Future events include Dana Mecum’s 27th Original Spring Classic Auto Auction in May; the WZPL Birthday Bash featuring Karmin in June; and the National Junior Angus Show in July. During the State Fair Aug. 1 – 17, the Coliseum will host Draft Horse competitions, livestock shows, the Champion Drive, the Celebration of Champions and a full line-up of headline concerts.
Hundreds of individuals and organizations from all over Indiana have already contributed nearly $9 million to the Coliseum Campaign, which is still active. You can support the project with a visit to www.fairgroundscoliseum.com.
Source: Indiana State Fair