St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota State Fair opens this Thursday. Fairgoers will notice some changes to the grandstand this year. The facility is undergoing a $35 million remodeling project.
The huge concrete and steel grandstand was built in 1909. It was a replacement for the State Fair's first grandstand -- a double-decked wooden structure built in 1885.
The renovation project's first phase includes construction of new brick stairways and elevators, along with demolition of the seldom-used, outdated and uncomfortable bleacher seats. The bleachers have been replaced by temporary seats, and the seating capacity has been increased from 13,000 to 17,000.
Phases two and three of the remodeling will take place over the next two years, and will include construction of a new permanent stage and seating. A capital campaign will be launched in the coming months to assist with the project. The State Fair grandstand has a rich history -- U.S. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Calvin Collidge both gave speeches there. Architect Quin Scott says his firm, KKE, tried to stay true to the history and architectural features of the original structure.
State Fair officials will hold a ribbing-cutting ceremony to officially open the new grandstand Thursday at 9:45 a.m., which is opening day of the 2003 Minnesota State Fair.
To listen to Greta's interview with Quin Scott, click the audio link in the right column.