The Indiana State Fair Commission has awarded the first four contracts for a planned renovation of the fairgrounds' coliseum that will keep the building on the sidelines during next year's fair.
Commission members approved contracts Thursday totaling more than $3 million for interior demolition, foundation work, new steel and other structural work. The four contracts are the first of several needed for the $71 million upgrade of the coliseum.
The work on the building that that opened in 1939 and hosted The Beatles' only Indiana concert in 1964 will start this fall and take it out of action during next year's fair. The project should be completed by the 2014 fair.
After the renovations, the coliseum will host concerts moved away from the grandstands after last year's deadly stage collapse. Concerts at this year's fair will be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
The commission earlier this year authorized spending $3.8 million to renovate the coliseum.
Plans call for expanding the current seating capacity of about 8,000 to nearly 9,000 by 2014.
The coliseum currently is home to the Indianapolis Ice hockey team and has hosted sports, political and musical events over the years.