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Fairgrounds Coliseum renovations completed early

The renovation of the historic Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum is set to be completed three months early, with a ribbon-cutting scheduled for April.

The Coliseum, the beneficiary of $63 million in renovations overseen by Populous, is already drawing new events in 2014 and beyond. The interior was basically gutted, with the arena’s footprint expanded. From the Indianapolis Star:

Still, the modern venue will preserve touches of 1939. Its exterior looks the same after a little sprucing up — new windows in the same glass block style and shape. The old steel girders hold up the structure, and crews built a new 9-foot wall in the same circle around the arena floor for draft horse competitions.

The expanded front lobby will have similar terrazzo floors. The original ticket window grilles will decorate the lobby. A lower section of seats will be restored to original condition.

“People will be amazed by the renovation,” State Fair Executive Director Cindy Hoye said Thursday in a press release. “It retains the building’s historic and iconic feel, and the natural lighting inside the arena is incredible, just like it was when it originally opened in 1939.”

The building first opened its doors in 1939 with a performance by ice skating legend Sonja Henie. Many famous music legends, including the Beatles, Nat “King” Cole and Neil Diamond have performed there.  It was also the original home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers from 1967-74.

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