Hoosiers recall Coliseum history ahead of major renovation

Building boasts 73-year history

INDIANAPOLIS - The historic Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds is getting a major face-lift, starting Saturday at noon.

The building has played a major role in Hoosier history as a major landmark for 73 years. 

Some of the most powerful people in the world have been there, from entertainment to sports and politics. 
"1964, I was here when The Beatles were here," said Bob Pickett, who worked at the Coliseum for 34 years. "You just couldn't imagine how many kids there were."

Pickett was 18 at the time.

"They started showing up at like 6:00, 6:30 in the morning, you know, and they were here all day," he said.

Mary Ann Christoff has worked at the Coliseum for 43 years.

"When the doors were closed, the entertainers would walk around so we got to meet several of them," she said.

Christoff got to meet one of her all-time favorites in 1978.

"Roy Rogers was very nice. He came up and talked to us," she said.

Who can forget the ABA Championship won by the Pacers at the Coliseum, with 8,000 strong cheering them on, or the visit by a young Massachusetts senator who would soon become our 35th president?

Hockey played a big part in the building's history -- Wayne Gretzky played there in 1978, and his famous number 99 is still hanging in the rafters.

"I love the place," Christoff said. "It means a lot to me."

She said it's been her home away from home for more than four decades, and once the renovation of the historic building is complete, she plans to come back.

"They'll have to tear the building down to get me out of here, which I guess that's what they're doing," she said.

There's a walk-through planned for Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. The public is invited to take in all the building's history. Then right after 12:00, it'll be time for the sledgehammers. 

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