Lynyrd Skynyrd christens renovated Coliseum as fair kicks off

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The Indiana State Fair starts Friday, but Thursday night got the ball rolling with the first fair concert.

Lynyrd Skynyrd performed inside the Indiana State Fair Coliseum. It’s the largest single-day event for the venue after it’s nearly $60 million renovation which wrapped up this spring.

"It's been at least three or four years since I've been here," said Bob Deal of Indianapolis. "I came to my very first rock and roll show here back in the early 1970s, so my friends from Terre Haute drove over and it was for Chicago and it was my very first rock and roll concert," he said.

This venue is known for its versatility. That's how Eileen Brusslan remembers it.

"Ice skating. I was never any very good," she laughed.

The floor she skated on is all dirt for the state fair.

"This is a livestock pavilion, it was a livestock pavilion when it was created in 1939 and we want it to continue to be," said Andy Klotz with the Indiana State Fair.

That's also why there's a tall concrete wall around the bowl. The wall means no more staircase on the floor.

Around 6,000 people were estimated to attend the concert.

"Whenever you have a first, it's just got that excitement to it," Klotz said.

The concert is the first large one for the Coliseum. Crews spent 18 months stripping the building down to its four walls and starting over.

"We've preserved so much of the 75 year history of the building, yet we've made it a modern facility," Klotz said.

So from new concession stands to an open bar, what's old is new again, But lots of history still remains.

"It looks great, but it still looks like itself. It's cleaner, newer, and fresher," Brusslan said.

The refurbished Coliseum was built in 1939. It’s last major upgrade was in the 1990’s when air conditioning was installed.

Nearly 100 seats have been preserved and installed in a special section of the venue.

While the floor is all dirt for the fair, it can also be switched to concrete, hardwood, and ice.