The Indiana State Fair Commission decided Thursday to permanently move its outdoor grandstand concerts indoors and authorized spending $3.8 million to help prepare their new home: The Pepsi Coliseum located nearby on the north side Indianapolis fairgrounds.
The coliseum that once hosted a concert by the Beatles will be expanded from its current seating capacity of about 8,000 to nearly 9,000 by 2014, commissioners said.
The announcement to move the concerts indoors permanently came about 60 days before a final report is due on the collapse of an outdoor stage and rigging that killed seven people and injured more than 40 others amid high winds before a concert by the country duo Sugarland. The commission earlier had decided concerts at this year's fair would be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
"We did not look at this as suites and luxury boxes," said Cindy Hoye, the fair's executive director. "What we looked at was as a very family oriented facility, which it's always been. It doesn't impede upon the wonderful Bankers Life Fieldhouse or Lucas Oil Stadium. It's taking and restoring what we have."
Hoye said the coliseum plans still are in the early stages and have not yet secured financing. She said the coliseum generates about 40 percent of the state fair's annual revenue.
The commission is due to begin discussing possible construction contracts for the project at its Feb. 9 meeting.
Spokesman Andy Klotz said the coliseum, constructed in 1939, will close this fall and reopen in time for the 2014 State Fair.
The Pepsi Coliseum currently is home to the Indianapolis Ice hockey team and has hosted sports, political and musical events through the years.