ILLINOIS — It’s no secret buildings at the Illinois State Fair have been falling apart at the seams for years now. The historical Coliseum was forced to close in October and it needs nearly $4 million in repairs.
“The whole fact that it’s closed is a sin,” says Briney.
With a lack of funding, many feel the problem will only get worse.
“If we don’t get the repairs done in a timely manner, what shows are we going to lose that won’t come back?”
The Coliseum is to remain closed through the summer and repairs have yet to begin. The tourism industry in Springfield says without these events, things could go south.
“The agricultural part of the State Fair is very good to the city of Springfield. That’s probably where we see one of our highest demands.”
On average, visitors stay at hotels for four days.
“You’re looking at anywhere between $700,000 of lost revenue to millions of dollars,” says President of the Springfield Lodging Association Darren Dame.
Horse competitions are just one of many events the Coliseum hosts throughout the year .
“We’ve had two of our shows and called and more have moved,” says Briney.
The Coliseum has already lost seven horse shows this year. That number is expected to increase.
“I think the equestrian industry, if we want it fixed, then we’re going to have it make it happen and by fundraising.”
The area outside the arena next to the Coliseum is currently under construction. Adjustments are being made so shows can still take place on the fairgrounds.
The backlog of repairs totals more than $180 million. Rauner’s non-profit has only raised $5,000 since it was created. The fund would go to repairs across the fairgrounds.