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On the Boards | Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum

Coliseum 1

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In 1901, Illinois architectural firm Reeves and Baillie designed the Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum. Over 115 years later, Bailey Edward has been awarded the project of renovating and repairing the Coliseum to its former glory. The building is constructed of steel, brick and limestone, and features a tiered hip roof with a band of windows for air circulation.

The Coliseum opened its doors to the public during the 1901 Illinois State Fair, hosting horse shows and livestock competitions. Due to the popularity of the events, the building was expanded in 1903 to accommodate more people. In 1958, the Coliseum was renovated by closing the open-air arches, creating a new entrance, and replacing the original wooden bleachers with metal ones. Throughout the years, the Coliseum has provided significant rental income to the Department of Agriculture by hosting numerous community events including theatrical performances, musical concerts, livestock shows, expositions, and markets. The Coliseum has capacity for 2,700 people, but in 2016 after a detailed engineering study, the Coliseum was deemed unfit to be occupied. The building is shuttered until it is made structurally sound, part of Bailey Edward’s task.

In collaboration with the Capital Development Board and Hanson Professional Services, Bailey Edward will work to restore the structural integrity of the building, replacing the roofing system and clerestory windows, and other structural upgrades determined necessary to reopen the Coliseum to the public. Many of the steel beams supporting the building have suffered corrosion, wooden purlins have deteriorated and the framing has bent over the years. Furthermore, framing connections were found to have loose or missing bolts, compromising the structural safety.

Bailey Edward and Hanson Professional Services will provide the necessary updates to allow the Coliseum to continue to serve the Springfield community and host events at the Illinois State Fair while honoring the Coliseum’s vibrant past and historic integrity.