By Antonio Cordero
After a multi-year, $63 million renovation, The Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds is open to the public once again.
The renovations mark the largest capital improvement project in the State Fairgrounds' 123-year history.
"It took us seven years to get to this point today. This was not an easy task, in fact, I would say some of the words that we used are determination, resilience, perseverance, and by golly we are not giving up on this project," said Cindy Hoye, Indiana State Fairgrounds Executive Director.
The renovation, which was a complete overhaul to the inside of the coliseum, includes a new lobby, an overhead LED video scoreboard, a second-floor concessions area, sound-absorbing walls for optimal acoustics, and a new Skate Shop at the Youth Arena.
Andre Lacey, Chairman of the Indiana State Fair Commission, highlighted the importance and meaning the facility has on all Hoosiers.
"This grand lady has served as a classroom for decades, showcasing some of Indiana's most spectacular agricultural shows and competitions," Lacey said.
Lt. Gov. Sue Ellsperman and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard also praised the renovation.
"On behalf of half a million Hoosiers involved in agriculture, I express our sincere gratitude to everyone involved in this magnificent project," Ellsperman said. "Today we celebrate a new, old friend of agriculture, our beloved coliseum."
"It's just remarkable to see a renovation, a renaissance if you will of such a great building that means so much not only to the city of Indianapolis but to the state of Indiana, because it's held so many great events and will in the future now because of this renovation," Ballard said.
The coliseum has hosted a variety of high-profile events - ranging from presidential campaigns to a Beatles concert. Gov. Mike Pence said the renovation was a necessary step to ensure that continues.
"We've preserved, we're improved it, and we've ensured that this great State Fair Coliseum will be the jewel at the very center of the state fair for generations to come," Pence said.
The new Coliseum will host its first event Saturday when the Radio One Women's Empowerment Series gets underway, and will be the site of several concerts this summer including Lynard Skynard and Pitbull.
Antonio Cordero is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by journalism students and faculty at Franklin College.