The Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds re-opened this week with much fanfair as the renovation/construction project came to an end. The new look of the building promises up-to-date facilities with a huge tribute to the history of agriculture in Indiana.
The Indiana State Fair Commission invited several hundred guests and dignitaries to participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony and the first public tours of the building.
Cindy Hoye, executive director of the Indiana State Fairgrounds, made introductions and served as the emcee of the event.
“In October 2012, I had the opportunity to turn the lights off in the grand Coliseum,” Hoye said. “And as promised, we have created a brand new building where new memories can be created.”
The $63 million renovation was financed through bonds payable with commission revenues and funds raised by the Indian State Fair Foundation.
The original building was dedicated in 1939. It was made possible through funds made available by President Franklin D. Roosevelt through the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Hoye said the facility had become dangerous and needed to either be restored or torn down. The Indiana Legislature voted to improve the building and bring it back up to its former glory.
“One of the toughest challenges was to do this without any new taxes,” Hoye said. “We are doing to do this by hosting a whole lot of events.”
Populous was chosen to do the architecture and engineering work and Hunt Construction Group of Indianapolis handled the construction.
The project preserved the facility’s 75-year history by reinstalling 96 original seats, recreating the original terrazzo floor, and leaving original walls and steel support beams exposed.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was rendered speechless by Hoye during her introduction. She told the story of his first date with First Lady Karen Pence.
She “claimed” workers found two old pair of ice skates in the walls during the demolition process.